All right, so here’s the plot: There are twin sisters who are opposites, and a guide who leads tours. But Dr. Jeckyll spills a potion on a table, and havoc ensues when a chemical imbalance leads to extreme behaviors.
Confused yet? That’s okay. Actually seeing disparate developments unfold and converge was part of the delight of the Odyssey of the Mind Showcase, held recently at Trailblazers Academy. Students performed original skits for parents, community members and each other in advance of competing in the Connecticut Finals later this month.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program focusing on creative problem-solving. Each team is given a narrative problem, and students work together to find solutions by creating original scripts, costumes, sets and props.
“It’s all theirs,” said John Haynes, coach for the Rippfield Team, which includes students from Rippowam and Scofield schools. A total of 11 teams from 14 middle and elementary schools are participating this year.
The Rippfield team’s problem guidelines required inclusion of a tour guide representing a character from classic literature, an inanimate item that becomes animate, and a worthless item that is closely guarded. Other teams’ problems involved similarly disjointed directives. The challenge for the teams is to make them cohesive. Students learn to work as a unit.
“There’s a lot of clashing of ideas, but you have to cooperate and compromise a little bit,” said Meghan Rowley.
They also learn how to fail.
“Once you start something and it doesn’t work out, you can’t get upset with yourself,” said Olivia Martinez. “You have to keep going until it works.”
The Stamford Youth Foundation and Parent Teacher Council sponsor the program. Last year, the Roxbury and Westover teams won the Connecticut Finals, advancing to World Finals in Michigan. There, Roxbury earned fourth-place honors.
What do you think of Odyssey of the Mind as a way to teach problem-solving and encourage creative thinking?