Imagination at work in Odyssey of the Mind

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A new club has taken off in the past year at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax. Odyssey of the Mind is an international competition where students in teams of up to seven devise creative solutions to problems provided, without any outside assistance.

 

Teams write and perform an eight-minute play that fits the criteria of the problem and are judged against other teams.

 

The challenge Paul VI picked was to write, rehearse and put on a play about a superhero who saves creativity — and included a clumsy sidekick, a nemesis character, a choreographed battle and a cliffhanger ending.

 

The students met after school to write, rehearse, design costumes and more to bring their ideas to life.

 

At the competition, in addition to performing the play, teams were also required to participate in a spontaneous competition, which could take several forms. The three main categories of spontaneous problems are verbal, hands-on, and verbal hands-on. An example of a spontaneous problem would be for the teams to get in a circle and call out as many things as possible that are red. Bonus points are given for creative answers. Each of the spontaneous problems put students on the spot and encourages them to use their imagination.

 

The Odyssey of the Mind club was started last year by then-freshman Kathryn Webb, and it gained enough of a following this year to enter the competition. Club members took the initiative to increase membership and recruited enough people to form two teams. The two Paul VI teams competed at the regional competition, one winning first place and the other taking fifth.

 

Team A went on to compete at the state competition, held at John Champe High School in Aldie. The team performed the same play with a few tweaks and placed eighth. Teams A and B may not have qualified for the Odyssey of the Mind world finals, but according to the members, they put every ounce of their creativity into making their plays the best they could be.

 

According to Daniel Jacobs, who played the talent show master of ceremonies in the challenge, “I have never written a play or story before. It was fun to be a part of the process and see it come to life.”

 

"As club moderator, my only role was to provide a time and place for the meetings,” said Rose Kocis.  “The students did everything else: brainstorming ideas, writing the script, creating props, practicing — they even ran the meetings themselves, staying on task, assuming natural leadership roles.  I was amazed at what they could accomplish entirely on their own."

 

The students plan to continue with Odyssey of the Mind next year, and there is no telling where the journey may lead. 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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