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Odyssey of the Mind Set for 3/24 at ALCS

(Allegany, New York) -- On Saturday, March 24, 2018, 37 teams from across the Southern Tier will be showcasing their creativity at the Odyssey of the Mind Regional Tournament.  Odyssey of the Mind is a world-wide creative problem-solving tournament that promotes original and divergent thinking as a team sport.  Divergent problems -- those with more than one solution -- encourage students to learn and lead the way using 21st century skills.  By working in teams of up to seven members, participants learn teamwork, the appreciation and understanding of others, and the concept that a group is a more powerful thinking force than an individual.

Allegany-Limestone Central School will be hosting about 250 creative kids aged 10-18 years old, who will be showing off their brain power in this high-energy tournament. The winners, who will be announced at the end of the day, will represent Region 19 at the New York State Tournament at Binghamton University on April 7, and possibly at the World Finals, which are set to take place at Iowa State University on May 23-26.

Teams from 14 area school districts have worked hard to come up with eight-minute solutions to one of these five mind-bending problems posed by Odyssey of the Mind:

Problem 1: Triathlon Travels

On your mark…get set…go! In this problem, teams will ride on and drive original vehicles in an Odyssey-style triathlon. They will try to score in “curling,” hit the right targets when “jousting,” and “run track” by navigating a course in two directions. Between these events, the team will entertain the audience and the vehicle will change appearance. All of the action will take place in a team-created performance featuring the vehicles’ triathlon travels, a commentator, and a coach.

Problem 2: Emoji, Speak for Yourself 

Three-dimensional emojis will be used to communicate the life story of a once famous, but now forgotten, emoji. Teams will create a performance where the emojis demonstrate special functions like growing, turning into a team member, and changing into a different emoji. Performances will also include a choreographed dance, a technical representation of texting, and sounds to enhance the performance. The twist? No spoken language is allowed.

Problem 3: Classics… Mockumentary! Seriously?

There are often two sides to the same story. In this problem, characters don’t always agree as they recount the classic story where they appeared. The team will select a classic from a list and present different characters in a humorous documentary-style performance where details are added, denied, exaggerated, and disputed. There will be interviews, behind-the-scenes “clips,” and voice-overs that take the audience through the story and help present the events as they “really” took place. Whose side will you be on?

Problem 4: Animal House

Over the years, Odyssey of the Mind teams have designed structures that changed into many unbelievable shapes and sizes that balanced and held as much weight as possible. This year, teams will turn their balsa wood structures into animals! Since animals need to eat, they must be fed. The structure will have its appearance transformed and explained during an original performance. During the performance, the structure must hold the team-created food while it supports weights.

Problem 5: A Stellar Hangout

In the outreaches of the universe, there is an Intergalactic Hangout where all sorts of creatures from different worlds stop, eat, refuel, and relax. Teams will create a humorous performance centered on this science fiction hangout that includes original creatures, foods, and a search for space treasure. There will also be a worker character, entertainment, and a futuristic map at the hangout.

Students have spent months of their free time solving these problems as well as developing teamwork skills, independent study, friendships, confidence . . . all while improving their brainstorming and problem-solving techniques. They learn new things and utilize their individual strengths to solve the problem. Teams also learn how to budget money since there is a cost limit to each problem. Throughout the day, one will witness imaginative costumes, elaborate props, dances, original songs and poetry, creative writing and much more.                                                   

Not only do the participants compete within their chosen problem, but teams must also perform well in a “spontaneous problem”, where they solve a new problem on the spot. They must be creative, quick thinking and work well together as a team.

Saturday, March 24, is the culmination of many months of work from students, coaches, parents and judges who all work together with the common goal of encouraging creativity, supporting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and learning new things in a fun environment. Spectators are welcome to join in the excitement of the day.  The competitions start at 8:20 a.m. and continue throughout the day. The Awards Ceremony begins around 3:15 p.m.

Thousands of teams from throughout the United States and 20 other countries participate in Odyssey of the Mind.  For more information on this program, please visit, or call CABOCES Student Programs at 716-376-8323.