Geeklets Galore: Odyssey of the Mind

GeekMom

How awesome is Odyssey of the Mind? I’ve developed an opinion about that. My spouse and I served as Odyssey of the Mind (OM) coaches for a few years. This organization provides more than brain challenges for the geeky kid. OM also builds skill, creativity and confidence. Oh yeah, and your kids can’t help but pal up with other geeklets.

In his sixth grade year our son’s OM team chose to take on a structure challenge. That meant designing and building a strong but light structure capable of holding more weight than those built by other teams. That meant lots of balsa.

As part of the challenge, the team had to act out a story incorporating the weight-bearing test. The kids decided take on the characters of Greek gods and goddesses overseeing the earth (their structure) and commenting on hefty global issues as the weights were added. Their costumes were simple: togas made from bed sheets and laurel wreaths made from paper. They really got into practicing their divine roles. And the final structure they built was a tribute to many well-considered design changes. Tests the team ran in our basement showed that it supported more weight than national champion structures had held in years past.

We met early in the morning at the first competition, a regional meet held at an area high school. The atmosphere was lively and it was fun to see all the work other teams put into their projects. Finally our team was called. They were nervous but kept to their lines and staging as they watched OM judges add increasingly heavier weights to their structure. Each time it held as strongly as we hope the real Earth will continue to do.

Just as the structure got close to bearing award-winning weight, a girl’s toga got caught on a projecting piece of balsa. She gestured with the dramatic flare suited to a Greek goddess and her toga pulled part of the structure away. It collapsed. Our team was out of the structure challenge but the kids kept going. They finished their lines and rolled their design off stage with brave faces. They didn’t win in their division, but were awarded the Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award. The name comes from an arthropod, Renatra fusca, which can walk on water. Every balsa-building, toga-wearing, creatively challenging minute was worth it. OM is awesome that way.

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4 thoughts on “Geeklets Galore: Odyssey of the Mind

  1. Ooooh, I love OM. Sounds like a fantastic group of creative geeks you have coming up there. I only wish there were a group in my state (RI). My kids will have to do without, sigh.

    1. You forgot to mention that the winners of the Renatra Fusca get to move on to the next level of competition. 🙂 My daugher has done OM since 5th grade in 2009, her team had the vehicle problem (Earth Trek) and went all the way to the World’s Finals; the past 2 years her team has made it all the way to the state finals, but this year (I’m coaching, like last year) they are hoping to be Iowa bound again! I DO love OM so much! It is an addicting activity!

  2. Ooooh, I love OM. Sounds like a fantastic group of creative geeks you have coming up there. I only wish there were a group in my state (RI). My kids will have to do without, sigh.

    1. You forgot to mention that the winners of the Renatra Fusca get to move on to the next level of competition. 🙂 My daugher has done OM since 5th grade in 2009, her team had the vehicle problem (Earth Trek) and went all the way to the World’s Finals; the past 2 years her team has made it all the way to the state finals, but this year (I’m coaching, like last year) they are hoping to be Iowa bound again! I DO love OM so much! It is an addicting activity!

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