Odyssey of the Mind



Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem solving competition

  • 4-7 person teams
  • Long term problem solution presented as an 8 minute skit
  • Tournament includes a spontaneous problem & points for style


3rd-5th grade teams do one of the following long term types problems

  1. Vehicle
  2. Technical (think robots or other things that have to do something)
  3. Classics
  4. Structures (balsa wood structures that hold weight)
  5. Theatrical

Note: only 1-2 teams can do each problem.


K-2nd grade teams all do the Primary problem.

We can have any number of K-2nd grade teams doing the primary problem.




Consider coaching - You don’t have to have art or technical skills

Start getting a group together to form a team


Problems are chosen (team may not get their first choice)

Teams get started working on their problem

Most teams meet once a week


Teams may start having additional meetings

Early March:

Regional tournament - An all day event usually at Concord High School


How to form a team

  • The best way to be on a team is to form one yourself
  • Start chatting with other families that are interested
  • Good to have some diversity of skills and interests on a team and not just best friends
  • There are some existing teams, but they will have very few open spots


Is it right for your family?

  • Out of the box thinking, working with others, building, art, tinkering skills
  • It can get quite busy in Jan & Feb
  • Have to be able to commit for the season. Dropping out hurts the whole team (replacement team members are not allowed)

Forming teams

We usually have enough spots for all interested kids. To make this happen we need coaches



  • Coaches do not need to have any special skills
  • Coaches provide the structure and the schedule but are NOT allowed to help
  • Being a coach gives you the ability to set the schedule and requirements for the team
  • It is a great time to be a coach in Lamorinda! Coaches are helping each other out.


Team requirements

  • Teams need a place to work
    • A garage or outdoor space for building
    • Early season meetings can be at school, one LES team meets at a church
  • Judge for the day of the tournament
  • 2 hour volunteer at tournament
  • Engaged parents providing help with snacks, spontaneous problems and supply runs
  • Kids that are engaged, respect the work space and want to participate


Considerations when joining/forming a team

  • Does the practice schedule work for your family? It’s hard when kids miss a lot
  • Do your goals match the team’s?
    • Some teams want to compete, others are more focused on the process
  • Does the time commitment work for your family?
    • Some teams are co-op style and want a lot of parent involvement, others are mainly run by one or two coaches (Though all teams require some parent help)
  • Is it a fit for your child?
    • Some 3rd graders may want to be on a team of 5th graders, others may not
    • Some will want a structured environment others may not
  • If a team member leaves after the season starts, they can’t be replaced. Make sure the team is a good fit for your child before you commit.


Process for joining/forming a team

  • If you decide you want to coach, let Kathi know at kathi@mccrackendesign.com
  • There is a google doc that will track teams that are forming


  • If you want to join a team, contact the coach
    • This conversation is important to make sure it is a good fit
  • You may not end up on a specific team, but we can always add teams, so there will be plenty of room (if we have coaches).
  • There is no rush to form a team. Think about it, talk with friends and potential team mates and put a plan together that works for you. Things won’t get started until the fall.



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