How to start your team
1. Sign up for an Odyssey of the Mind membership. Once you’ve registered at the international level, you’ll be sent a membership packet which includes detailed copies of this year’s problems and the Program Guide, with all of the rules. Each membership is allowed one team per problem per division.
2. Locate your region on our state map and check the calendar of events for Coaches’ and Judges’ Training in your region, regional fees, requirements for teams and judges, and other regional information.
3. Register teams of up to seven students each, and recruit coaches and judges. Parents or teachers are often coaches. A team can have co-coaches to share the experience. Each team is also required to provide a volunteer judge, who must attend the region’s Judges’ Training and judge at the regional tournament. If a team advances to the State Finals tournament, the judge will be required to serve as an official at the State Finals.
4. Have the team(s) read through the problems and choose the one they’d like to solve. Teams work on their solutions over a period of months, so it’s good to start as early as possible.
5. Attend Coaches’ Training. Each region has one and they are designed to help with the various challenges of coaching a team, and to familiarize coaches with what to expect on the day of the tournament. Coaches are welcome to attend a training in any region.
6. Register your team and judges for your Regional Tournament. Use the Odyssey of the Mind Members Area to register your team.
7. Have fun helping students discover how to express themselves creatively and work together as a team to create their unique solution to one of the problems in an eight-minute performance. You’ll be amazed at what they can do when they’re encouraged to think “beyond the box.”
In relation to Pennsylvania state laws requiring clearances for volunteers:
All PA Odyssey of the Mind coaches, officials, and volunteers must conform with the standards and policies set forth by the entity which sponsors the team with which the person is associated.
PA Odyssey Jumpstart Grants
Your first year of Odyssey of the Mind is on us!
Recipients of our donor-funded grants have their registration and tournament fees covered, and receive a stipend to cover supplies. The average grant is worth over $400!
You’re eligible to apply if you’re a new membership, or if you’re an existing membership that has not had a team compete in the past five years.
The deadline for grants for the 2019-2020 school year has passed. Please check back next year for information about our 2020-2021 grant program.
About PA Odyssey of the Mind flyer (.pdf)
Share with administrators, parent organizations, school boards, and teachers!
What are Pennsylvania educators saying?
“The World Economic Forum chose complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity as the top three job skills for 2020. I can’t think of anything that develops those skills more than Odyssey of the Mind does. Being on an Odyssey of the Mind team has literally changed the lives of students in our district and created memories that will last a lifetime.”
– Dr. John Bell, Superintendent, Delaware Valley School District / Milford, PA
“Odyssey of the Mind provides an outlet in an environment where almost every type of student will thrive. Odyssey of the Mind is not a college bowl or a competition about knowledge. It’s about creativity, an often overlooked element in the growth and development of many students. Students are rewarded more for how they apply their knowledge, skills, and talents, and not for coming up with the correct answer.
In Odyssey of the Mind, students learn at a young age skills that will last a lifetime. They work in teams so they learn cooperation and respect for the ideas of others. They evaluate ideas and make decisions on their own, gaining a greater self-confidence and increased self-esteem along the way. They work within a budget, so they learn to manage their money. They see that there is often more than one way to solve a problem, and that sometimes the process is more important that the end result.”
– Dr. Catherine Sweeney, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Pocono Mountain School District / Swiftwater, PA
“Problem solving is so important in our world, and I am not sure that educators think about its value and relevance when we are planning instruction. When Odyssey has visited our schools for regional competitions, I’ve tried to make it a point to stop by and to remind participants that I would much rather hire someone who is resourceful and resilient versus someone who only knows textbook information.
Rarely in this world do things go according to plan, and the best and most efficient work team is that team whose members do not shut down when the most obvious solution doesn’t work. Instead, these individuals rise to the occasion. They apply their creativity and innovative spirit to move on quickly to Plans B, C, D, etc. without missing a beat. Those are the people I want on my team!”
– Dr. Nancy J. Hines, Superintendent, Penn Hills School District / Pittsburgh, PA
Congratulations to our grant recipients!
- Choconut Valley Elementary School – Friendsville, PA
- College Square Elementary School – Beaver, PA
- General Nash Elementary School – Harleysville, PA
- Inquiry Charter School – Philadelphia, PA
- Knapp Elementary School – Lansdale, PA
- Main Street Elementary School – Upland, PA
- Marshall Elementary School – Wexford, PA
- Montgomery Area Public Library – Montgomery, PA
- Monroe Career and Technical Institute – Bartonsville, PA
- St. Thomas More School – Allentown, PA
- Stetser Elementary School – Chester, PA
- Toby Farms Intermediate School – Brookhaven, PA