The International mission of Odyssey of the Mind is to provide creative problem solving opportunities for everyone and to foster original and divergent thinking. Through the Odyssey of the Mind program, coaches, parents, judges, and volunteers promote creativity by challenging teams to solve divergent problems, that is, those with more than one solution. By working in teams, participants learn teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, the appreciation and understanding of divergent views, and that a group can be a powerful thinking force. Students who participate develop a sense of self-respect and respect for others through development of their solutions, and through preparatory activities such as brainstorming and role-playing.
While the ultimate goal for most teams is to present their problem solutions in official competitions, this is not a requirement of participation. The purpose of the program is to provide students with an exciting learning experience that promises to be challenging and fun.
The Odyssey of the Mind has its roots in the Industrial Design classes of Dr. Sam Micklus, Odyssey of the Mind founder. As a professor at Rowan University in New Jersey (formerly Glassboro State College) Dr. Micklus challenged his students to create vehicles without wheels, mechanical pie throwers and flotation devices that would take them across a course on a lake. He evaluated them not on the success of their solutions, but on the ingenuity applied and the risk involved in trying something new and different. Students had fun. Word spread and the students’ activities attracted attention from the local media. Soon, people on the outside wanted a part of the action. This public interest led to the development of a creative problem-solving competition for school children. The Odyssey of the Mind was on its way. Since then, Dr. Micklus’ life has been happily consumed with developing problems for other people to solve. His rewards are in the joy and pride of the millions of participants who rise to the challenge of solving those problems.
Odyssey of the Mind has a solid foundation in Texas with 250 teams. The program has grown immensely each year with the thirst for creativity and problem-solving thinking.