Creative Thinking

Odyssey Of The Mind…

Knowledge is essential. The road that leads to knowledge requires imagination to “believe in the possible.” Imagination then leads to discovery. A great abundance of knowledge fuels the imagination. It takes more than knowledge to be creative – creativity occurs at the intersection of imagination and knowledge. It allows a trial and error to provide various solutions. Creativity is about finding the most troubling of problems and identifying the best possible solutions. Developing creativity requires skill, motivation and self-awareness. It is a high level of thinking because it requires many thought processes – imagination, intuition, pattern discovery and originality. Art and science co-exist with creativity. How do you build skills for creative problem solving?

Dr. Samuel Micklus in New Jersey began a creative problem solving competition in 1978 known as Odyssey of the Mind. Community members would come watch Dr. Micklus’ classes at Rowan University as students attempted to complete a set of tasks in creative ways. Grades were based on ingenuity of thinking. One challenge that continues to be fun and creative is the Ranatra Fusca. The challenge was to build something that could take you across a small lake. A student observed the insect Ranatra Fusca, a water bug, and built a unique watercraft based on his observations.

Today, kindergartners through college students in nearly all 50 states and about 24 countries participate in Odyssey of the Mind. Participants are encouraged to solve one of five long-term problems that may be technical, theatrical, classical, vehicular or structural. Kids are still encouraged to think outside of the box. “Odyssey of the Mind has taught me that life isn’t always smooth and easy, but when you have a strong foundation and team around you, you can overcome anything,” says Meghan Nix, a high school participant.

Katherine Loberg is the assistant association director for Norcal Odyssey of the Mind. She has been involved since participating in high school in the early 1990s. She has been a coach for eight years on various teams, and is now a state board member. “There’s also an episode of ‘Storage Wars’ about Odyssey of the Mind called ‘The Nutty Appraiser’ featuring my daughter and I,” Loberg says. Darrell asked the state director what the program was all about. Before she could answer, his producer said, “I learned more about how to do my job today from Odyssey of the Mind in high school than in four years of college.”

Regional Director Bob Lipman says, “We often say Odyssey of the Mind was Common Core before Common Core was common in our schools. As a teacher and a parent, what I appreciate most about the program is that it encourages/requires parents to get out of the way of their child’s creativity and let the students come up with the solution themselves. My daughter, who is a high school senior this year, uses the skills she practiced in her 10 years of Odyssey of the Mind to solve real-life problems, like how does her drama class put on a performance during a stay-at-home order, budgeting her time and creatively using materials around the house to make projects for school.”

To get involved in Odyssey of the Mind, a school or community organization needs to purchase a membership and enlist volunteers.

About Christy Milan

with a passion for story-telling and a love of words, has been pursuing her dream that encompasses adventure and community connections. She grew up in the North State and adores the outdoors, which brings her inspiration and recharges her batteries. She is avid about holistic health. [email protected].

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