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What is Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey of the Mind (OOTM) is an international creative problem-solving program for students in kindergarten through college, founded in 1978 by Dr. Sam Micklus, Professor Emeritus, Glassboro State College, New Jersey.  Today, hundreds of thousands of students in all of fifty states and over thirty countries participate in annual programs.


Creative Problem-Solving

Under the guidance of a coach, Teams pool their diverse talents to find innovative solutions to the annual Long-Term problems.  Problems may involve building mechanical devices such as spring-driven cars or portrayals of classical literature. Thousands of Teams from all over the world will select and solve the same problem, but no two solutions are ever the same. Everyone learns to think Beyond the Box.


Outside Assistance

One of the most important parts of OOTM is that the Team MUST conceive, design, construct, and perform their own ideas.  Help from individuals other than those on the team is termed Outside Assistance (OA).  The solution is the Team’s design, their work, their performance, and their score. The Team is responsible for what they do, NOT the coach.  OOTM is a hands-on program for kids but a hands-off program for adults.



A school or community organization may purchase a national Membership. The Membership will allow the school to field one team in each Long-Term problem for each division the school covers. The exception to this rule is the primary division (K-2) in which a Membership can field multiple Teams. Most elementary schools are Division 1, middle schools are Division 2, and high schools are division 3.



Primary                K-2 (Non-competitive)

Division I              Grades 3 through 5

Division II             Grades 6 through 8

Division III            Grades 9 through 12

Division IV            Collegiate



Teams consist of up to seven students working on a particular Long-Term problem.  Teams are formed by division and compete against others within the same division in the same problem.  The oldest member on a team defines the division in which the team must compete.


Long-Term Problem

Teams select their Long-Term problem when they join OOTM and spend weeks or months creating and developing their solution. Each team member finds a role to play in the many stages of problem-solving, including brainstorming, artwork, set design, technical design, sketch writing and more. Solutions are presented in a live performance at a tournament. Long-Term problems are different every year, but they fall into six general categories:

Primary                Non-competitive

Problem 1           Vehicle

Problem 2           Technical                         

Problem 3           Classics

Problem 4           Structure

Problem 5           Performance



On tournament day, each team also faces a creative challenge never seen before. Spontaneous problems may be verbal, hands-on verbal, or hands-on.  Solutions are scored according to teamwork and the creativity of the team’s solution. Spontaneous problems are TOP SECRET, and only the team may enter the problem room.



National Organization                           $290.00 per Membership 

Florida Registration Fee                        $100.00 per team ($50.00 for primary)

Regional Team Fee                                 $100.00 per team

State Tournament Fee                           $50.00 per team advancing to State

Team Expenses                                       Varies based on team 

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