PODyssey of the Mind

Welcome to our podcast – an online radio show – all about Odyssey of the Mind. We speak with past and present OMers, coaches, judges, parents, volunteers, and friends from around the world about Odyssey advice, culture, experiences, opportunities, and skills.

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Episode 7

Odyssey of the Mind’s top dog (top raccoon?) joins us to discuss this past year’s Virtual World Finals and how the coming 2020-21 season is shaping up. We’re thrilled to have Sammy Micklus, Odyssey of the Mind HQ’s program director, in this first part of a two-part series. 

Sammy’s father, Dr. Sam, founded the program in 1978. Over the past 40 decades, Sammy has watched Odyssey of the Mind grow. This year, Sammy and his team at Odyssey HQ led thousands of creative problem-solvers and volunteers from around the world to navigate through an unprecedented “spontaneous problem.” In this episode, he reflects on the outcome and looks forward to the new season. 

Episode 7

Good people of the PINternet, we’re back! This week’s ePINsode is chock full of pins. Pin trading is a staple of the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals experience. Long-time World Finals officials and pin gurus Ryan Blackman, Olivia Holvik, David Palermo, and Paisley Ramstead join us for our first coast-to-coast show to discuss the economics of pin trading, their favorite pins, displaying their pins, and their friendship born of a mutual love of – you guessed it – pins. 

These four Odyssey alums also extol the virtues of participating in Odyssey of the Mind and discuss the skills they use in their careers and lives to this very day. As Paisley says, “No matter what you’re into, or what your skills are, there’s a spot in Odyssey for you.”

Links Mentioned in This Episode
Pin Trading Facebook group
Pictorial Pin History by Barbara Parris, North Carolina

Episode 6

Are they coaches, or are they OMers? The answer is – both! 

We caught up with a team of 11th grade OMers who run a creative problem-solving summer camp called “Makers, Take the Stage!” in western Pennsylvania. It’s a mini version of Odyssey of the Mind that the students came up with a few years ago when they didn’t want the fun to stop after competing. 

From Mt. Lebanon High School in western Pennsylvania, we’re joined by Nikki LaSota, Anna Mares, Natalie McGee, Melody Reynolds, Ruby Siefken, Leah Vuillemot, and their coach Kerry McGee. 

They discuss the genesis of “Makers, Take the Stage!” and some of the things they’ve learned from the younger students they mentor. They also discuss their experiences as OMers, having competed in nearly every different long-term problem and applying their skills in unique, Ranatra-worthy ways.

Episode 5

Back in Pennsylvania this week, we get the scoop from two rising high school seniors in the Masterman School Odyssey of the Mind program in Philadelphia. Long-time OMers Ariel Weinbaum and Drew Brown talk about pushing the envelope with their long-term and spontaneous solutions, their World Finals buddy teams, Ari’s family’s Odyssey obsessions, Drew’s unconventional competition day diet, and why they choose to be a part of Odyssey of the Mind among all of the options high school students have today.

Episode 4


Full Episode

We cross state lines for our biggest episode ever! Coaches Doug MacConnell and Justin Sulsky join us with several of their fourth and fifth grade OMers from the Long Beach Public Schools in New York. 

Mr. Mac and Mr. Sulsky discuss how they started coaching teams a few years ago – coming in with no past Odyssey experience – and worked their way to bring teams to World Finals both in-person, and virtually this year. Their team members jump in with stories and strategies from creating their solutions. And even the district’s assistant superintendent, Dr. Paul Romanelli, was on the call to lend his support!

Our conversation emphasizes how Odyssey of the Mind teams are like a family. The young OMers discuss how they are using their Odyssey skills and teamwork to help their community with an Odyssey Angels project. As Mr. Sulsky says, “I think that global issues like racism and the pandemic, only prove more about why we need to nurture the talents of our young kids.”

Episode 3

A special edition of PODyssey of the Mind: We’re joined by Odyssey alumni from across the state of Pennsylvania for our first ever Virtual Graduation Ceremony. Members of our state board who are past OMers shared their wisdom for our graduating seniors, who had their own stories to add. It was a special evening that we are excited to share with you! Congratulations to the class of 2020!

Click here to watch the Virtual Graduation Ceremony on YouTube…

Episode 2


Full Episode

What do a bubble machine, magnetic silverware, and melted Starbursts have in common? Find out in this week’s episode featuring North Penn High School teammates Abby Boquist, Lorna Loughery, and Luca Scott! A graduating high school senior, an incoming high school senior, and a college freshman respectively, these three OMers reflect on how their Odyssey paths brought them together to advance to World Finals in 2019. 

Episode 1


Full Episode

In our inaugural episode, graduating Pennsbury High School seniors Kartik Kannan and Robbie Oleynick discuss some of their favorite Odyssey memories, mentors, and – of course – pins. They also explain the challenges they’ve faced as high school seniors during the pandemic.

Links mentioned on PODyssey of the Mind
PA Odyssey of the Mind Instagram
Odyssey of the Mind Pin Trading Facebook Group

Be our guest

Are you interested in being on our podcast? We’re looking for guests from all walks of life of Odyssey of the Mind – OMers, coaches, parents, officials, alumni, and anyone else who has a connection to the program – from anywhere around the world!

If you’re interested in being on a future episode, email podcast@paodyssey.com

Podcast host

PODyssey of the Mind is hosted by a past OMer and current member of the Pennsylvania volunteer board of directors, Ryan Balton. Ryan oversees the PA state and NEPA region public relations, which includes maintaining our social media and web presence, administering our Jumpstart Grant program, producing our awards ceremonies, and arranging press coverage of our tournaments.

Starting in fourth grade in 1998, Ryan was on teams in problems 1, 2, 3, and 5 – including a division IV team at his alma mater, Syracuse University. Ryan’s day job is as a freelance television camera operator. He says, “Every day in my line of work is a spontaneous problem!”