Last year, Campbell’s PTA sponsored five Odyssey of the Mind teams. Team formation is dependent on volunteer parents who are willing to commit to acting as coaches for teams of 5-7 students. While the coach is not responsible for solving the problem, sewing costumes, painting sets, writing songs, or building sets, they are responsible for meeting with their team regularly, usually once a week, so the students can practice spontaneous problem solving and work on the solution to the long-term problem they choose. It is the responsibility of the students to come up with the ideas and bring them to life; however, it is the coach who helps keep the students on track toward completing their solution by keeping students focused, productive, and safe during their meetings. Parents of students are all asked to volunteer in some way toward the group’s effort, whether serving as a judge or volunteer at the regional meet in March, going on shopping runs with their child to purchase materials or sending in snacks for the meetings.
At Campbell, the PTA sponsors the Odyssey of the Mind program, and therefore the cost to parents is minimal. The PTA funds the school membership which is purchased through Creative Competitions Incorporated, coaches’ training fees, and fees for the regional meet. The PTA advertises and registers students for Odyssey of the Mind similar to the way they register Project Discovery classes; however, unlike other Project Discovery classes, they run from November to mid-March and a parent or two from each team must volunteer to coach in order for the team to form.
Last year, two of our teams worked on the competitive long-term problems. The 4th and 5th grade team did problem entitled, “A Stellar Hangout.” They created a humorous 8-minute-play about some space creatures at an intergalactic hangout. The 3rd grade team’s problem was called “Animal House,” and they had to create a balsa wood structure in the shape of an animal and write a skit about it. Plus, their structure needed to hold weights! During the regional meet, those teams had to perform their solution to that problem and solve a spontaneous problem with their team as well.
The other three teams that was formed last year were our primary teams. Primary teams work on a long-term problem as well, but they perform non-competitively at the regional meet in March. Last year’s problem involved characters on a cooking show. The teams consisted of 5-8 members each, all Kindergarten through 2nd graders at Campbell.All teams performed along with about 140 other teams from the surrounding areas of Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, and part of Fairfax County at the Nova East Regional Meet at West Potomac High School in March 2018.