Odyssey of the Mind

In a nutshell, Odyssey of the Mind (OOTM) is a competitive problem-solving competition that combines STEM and the performing arts. Students choose one of 5 problems; the categories stay the same from year to year but the theme, criteria, and constraints change yearly. Students work together to solve the problem and present their solution.

This spring was the inaugural season in which D-E entered the OOTM competitive arena (and earned admirable, notable results, going to the intense OOTM “Worlds” competition hosted at Michigan State University – Lansing, in early May!).

Colleen Larianoff served as faculty advisor and shares, “D-E’s Upper School OOTM team chose the structure problem, which requires building a weight-bearing structure of balsa wood.  This year’s structure had to be at least 8 inches, under 15 grams, and be comprised of 3 distinct parts that interconnect to bear weight.  They also wrote and performed an 8-minute scene incorporating the structure, 2 magic tricks, a poem, a vocal duet, a choreographed ballet number, and more.  Additionally, they made all the costumes, props, and scenery.”

She continues, “The other part of the competition is called ‘Spontaneous’ Improv.  In this portion, they enter a room and they have to work together to solve a novel problem as creatively as possible.” The team landed on an “Alice in Wonderland”- themed story for their dramatic interpretation. 

Ultimately they placed 16th out of 43 teams in their final ranking, and placed 4th in the “Spontaneous” Improv challenge – a feat for their first time competing!  Best of all, OOTM team members clearly strengthened their creative problem solving as well as collaboration skills.

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