HOUSTON – Oct. 1, 2018 – Spring ISD elementary and middle-school students will have the opportunity this year to participate in Odyssey of the Mind, an international problem-solving program that has been challenging students to think creatively for four decades.
“One of our strategic priorities this year is to strengthen our Gifted and Talented program,” said Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson. “Introducing Odyssey of the Mind to our students will expand our enrichment activities, giving them more choices and opportunities to develop their creativity.”
Coordinated by the GT program, Odyssey of the Mind competition is open to students in kindergarten through eighth grades at all district elementary and middle schools. It will be offered first to GT students, however, general education students will also have the opportunity to participate.
Odyssey of the Mind interest forms have been distributed at each campus, and coaches will be using the information on those forms to identify team members.
“We are looking for students who have a desire to participate, and who bring certain skills to the team, such as performing and visual arts, thinking outside the box, and an interest in building things,” says GT Specialist Lameisha Watts.
Campus staff will be serving as coaches, supervised by the district’s GT coordinators and assisted by parent volunteers. Thirty-three coaches from district schools and some area school districts met at Dekaney High School on a recent Saturday for several hours of training before teams are actually formed and begin meeting in November.
Once the teams are established, they will each choose a long-term problem to solve from five scenarios provided by Odyssey of the Mind. Leading up to the regional and state competitions held in the spring, teams will spend their time creating an eight-minute performance, complete with props and costumes, that demonstrates the solution to their long-term problem. During competition, each team will also be required to solve a spontaneous problem.
“The long-term problems are not just creative,” said Advanced Academics Manager Tiffany Williams. “They are rigorous as well, requiring students to follow specific instructions to the letter and learn to be self-reliant.”
Coaches and parent helpers are allowed to teach the process of creative problem solving, but the teams must do their own work. Not only is outside assistance a disqualifier, but it also interferes with the students learning to be problem solvers, which is the primary goal of the program.
In addition, Williams said the program connects to many of the district’s initiatives, including the opportunity to make choices, work collaboratively and experience arts integration, which is also a district priority. .
“Odyssey of the Mind is a learning experience that will nurture our students’ creativity and strengthen their preparation for future careers,” Williams said.