Freshman Lauren Brace has been involved in Odyssey of the Mind for the past six years and she wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Odyssey of the Mind is a creative-solving competition designed to test students’ ability to think outside of the box. The rules also make things a little more difficult: competitors have to complete every task without ‘outside assistance,’ meaning no suggestions from parents or asking for advice from coaches.
The success of the team depends entirely on its members.
Teams compete to perform a creative solution and compete in an event called “Spontaneous.”
The FHC Odyssey of the Mind team—coached by Mike and Ren Brace—recently snagged the first place spot at regionals for their problem, The Effective Detective, and their division this year.
The team has to involve a plethora of items in their skits. They are given pages of information that demands specifics factors from them: a detective character that must follow clues and solve a mystery like the city Atlantis or Bigfoot. The skit must also include a distraction or “red herring,” and a battle between the detective and a villain. The settings of the skit need to change and showcase the action going on—the team is then challenged to store its solution in the smallest space they can.
Freshmen teammates Lauren Brace, Tara Brace, Olivia Thornley, Maya Rogue, Aden Pomeroy, Trevor VanSkiver, and eighth-grade teammate Jackson Savin have been working tirelessly since October to make sure their skit is nothing less than perfect and is executed seamlessly on the day of the performance.
“Towards the beginning, we usually only practice twice a week for 1-2 hours,” Lauren said. “As we get closer to competition, the length of practice increases as we build out props, backdrops, costumes, and piece together our script.”
Along with having to build props and write scripts, the team also has to compete in a second part of the competition; one you can’t exactly prepare for.
“Spontaneous is on the spot problem solving,” Olivia said. “There is hands-on, verbal, and hands-on verbal spontaneous.”
Verbal Spontaneous is when teams are presented with simple, everyday questions and have to answer them in interesting, unique ways. While Verbal Spontaneous is about questions, Hands-on Spontaneous is more focused on completing tasks within specific time parameters with random materials.
For example, you may have to try and build the tallest tower out of sheets of paper and a couple pieces of tape, or you may have to name as many things that you think of that are white, like polar bears or paper, and they’d be rewarded extra points for a creative answer like Snow White.
Besides just teaching you how to solve problems and how to work together as a team, Odyssey of the Mind also teaches you several other things.
“[Odyssey of the Mind has taught me] how to look at a problem from a different angle,” Trevor said.
Along with creativity and thinking about things outside of the box, Odyssey of the Mind also teaches valuable skills that can be carried with you for years.
“Odyssey of the Mind has taught me a countless number of skills,” Lauren said, “like woodworking, sewing, the improvement of writing, acting, and painting.”
While some might think spending “125 hours of practice time total” on one project could be a bit redundant, Olivia’s favorite part is spending those 125 hours with all her teammates.
“My favorite part of Odyssey of the Mind is getting to spend time with my friends while solving the problem,” Olivia said. “We are all having fun while getting work done.”
And while one of Lauren’s favorite parts of Odyssey of the Mind is getting to spend time with her friends, the other half is getting to perform.
“It allows you to explore a wide variety of elements that are used to create your solution,” Lauren said. “While constructing different pieces of our solution is extremely fun, my favorite part [of] Odyssey of the Mind is performing on competition day, getting to spend time with some of my best friends, and showing everyone what we’ve accomplished.”
FHC’s team of seven came in first place at this year’s regional competition and are highly anticipating ranking in first place yet again at the State competition this year. After states, the next level of competition is Worlds.
Worlds this year is being hosted at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
While states are far away, Lauren looks forward to spending that time with her team in the weeks to come before their next competition.
“This is my sixth year in Odyssey of the Mind,” Lauren said. “I’ve continued because working creatively with my friends never ceases to be a fun experience. One mind can be creative, but when we work together the possibilities are endless.”