ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — May 22, 2008 — Nine groups of students from the Department of Defense Dependants Schools (DoDDS) will travel to the University of Maryland's College Park campus in late May to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals Competition.
Four elementary school teams and three middle school teams from the Department of Defense Dependants Schools-Europe (DoDDS-E) will travel to the United States to compete. Two of the teams are from SHAPE Elementary School in Belgium. The other teams are from Landstuhl Elementary/Middle School, Geilenkirchen Elementary/Middle School, Garmisch Elementary/Middle School, Spangdahlem Middle School which are all in Germany; and Brussels American School in Belgium. This is the largest group that has been accepted to the finals from DoDDS-E since the program began 29 years ago.
One elementary and one high school team from W.T. Sampson Unit School in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is also entering in the World Finals. This is the fifth year that the W.T. Sampson Unit School has sent students to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals competition. In the past, the W.T. Sampson Elementary school was the top DoDDS school in their problem and division level.
The Odyssey of the Mind program encourages students to use creative thinking, work within a budget to solve problems, and exercise teamwork and problem solving skills as they make difficult decisions.
Odyssey of the Mind began in 1978 when Dr. C. Samuel Micklus, "Dr. Sam," at Rowan University in New Jersey, decided to create the very first problem-solving competition. Twenty-eight schools participated in the initial competition. Dr. Micklus, along with his son Sammy, the CEO of the company that licenses the Odyssey of the Mind program, develop all of the problems for the competitions.
Approximately 7,000 students from more than 30 countries around the world are expected to attend this year's World Finals along with their parents, teachers and sponsors. The teams will spend four days on the university's campus.
To participate in the Odyssey of the Mind Program, sponsors or community members must purchase a membership then put together teams of five to seven students. The teams, ranging from kindergarten to college level, then choose one problem from five different categories within their division. Problems can be technical, artistic or performance-based.
Teams spend months working to solve their problems before they can compete at the regional level with other teams in their division. First, second and third divisions are determined by the students' ages. The fourth division is only for college students. Teams that place at the regional level then participate in the State Association Finals. If they place at the state level they are invited to the Odyssey of the World Finals.
Teams from W.T. Sampson Elementary School and High School were exempt from the regional and state level competitions and were able to participate in the World Finals as a "free agent" since they do not belong to any specific region or district.
Each of the teams will share their solutions to problems they picked earlier in the year in the form of a creative skit and in spontaneous competitions against other teams. Team responses to problems are judged by volunteers.
The DoDDS-E and W.T. Sampson teams worked on their solutions from October 2007 until their state finals in March 2008. All of the teams from DoDDS-E placed first within their age division and earned money to travel to the competition by hosting fundraising events. Both of the W.T. Sampson teams also hosted fundraising events to raise money to compete in the competition.
"This is an excellent opportunity for our students here in Cuba to interact with students from all over the world and exchange ideas in this outstanding creative problem solving program," said Sonja-Lee Pollino, an Art Specialist at W.T. Sampson High School.
The Odyssey of the Mind World Final Competition runs from May 31 to June 2.
DoDEA consists of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) located overseas, and the Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) located in the United States and its territories and possessions. DoDEA provides education to eligible DoD military and civilian dependents from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages the education programs for Department of Defense (DoD) dependents who would otherwise not have access to a high-quality public education.