For over 40 years, New York State Odyssey of the Mind Association, Inc. (NYSOMA), a 501c3 organization, has offered the Odyssey of the Mind (OotM) program to students from throughout New York State. A creative problem solving program, OotM encourages divergent thinking as teams use creativity and teamwork to solve unique problems.
Odyssey of the Mind is open to all students from Kindergarten through college level. Guided by coaches, team members work throughout the school year on their solutions to one of six long-term problems. These are then presented at a regional competition at which students hope to advance to State Finals. Successful teams then represent New York at the World Finals, meeting students from across the U.S. as well as from other countries.
Odyssey of the Mind incorporates aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) but also goes one step further to include arts, theater and music. Each year, students work in teams to solve original problems in a variety of areas, from building mechanical devices such as vehicles to designing and building balsa wood structures to hold weight to giving their own theatrical interpretation of literary classics. Students learn lifelong skills such as brainstorming, teamwork, evaluating ideas, making decisions and creating solutions while developing self-confidence. Creativity, communication, time management and divergent thinking are encouraged, all of which are highly prized by employers in today’s workforce.
In 2020 the NYS tournament will be held on April 4. Approximately 240 teams of 7 students, plus coaches from all over NY State come to compete. A dedicated band of almost 300 volunteers help officiate and assist in running the tournament. All together including supporters and spectators, over 4,500 people attend.
For over 20 years, the Tournament was entirely hosted at Binghamton University but in 2018 and 2019, economic pressures required NYSOMA to utilize less of the university’s campus and move part of the tournament to local schools. Without additional funding in 2020, the tournament will be even more fractured adding stress to competitors and attendees, reducing the tournament day experience on campus and significantly increasing complexity for NYSOMA organizers and volunteers.
With your help, we can work towards our goal of bringing the tournament totally back to Binghamton University.