Odyssey of the Mind, an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities, provides an avenue for allowing students to strengthen critical skills in all of these areas. Teams of students apply their creativity to solving problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.
Each team then presents their solution in the form of an 8-minute skit.
Engaging students in math, science, and technology is one of the most important factors in creating tomorrow's workforce, and GMC’s strong tradition in these areas as well as in teaching creative thinking and problem solving skills is of infinite value to students in preparing for a productive future.
For each of the past six years, GMC Prep School has sent up to four teams to the regional competition, and for the three years, every GMC team made it to the state competition along with over 110 teams from all over the state of Georgia. In 2009, one of the teams placed first at the state tournament and headed to the World Finals at Iowa State University on May 27-30, placing 6th out of 55 teams. Two teams advanced to World Finals at Michigan State University the following year, one team from the middle school and one from the high school. Last year, the high school team placed 5th at World Finals at the University of Maryland.
This year, our high school team placed first at both regional and state competitions and will compete at World Finals held at Iowa State University on May 23-26 against teams from around our country and around the globe. The team’s problem “Ooh-Motional Vehicle” required the team to design, build, and drive a vehicle that travels a course where it must encounter three different situations. The vehicle had to display a different human emotion for each encounter and one that caused it to travel in reverse. The team also had to create a theme for the presentation that incorporates the vehicle and the different emotions. The emphases were on the technical risk-taking and creativity of the vehicle's engineering for travel and change of emotional appearance. The team members wrote the script, blocked their scenes, composed songs, choreographed a dance, designed and built all stage-sets, props and costumes. In addition, they had to keep within a tight budget, monitoring their spending along the way.
The vehicle was constructed with two different propulsion systems. The first propulsion was indirect human power—a rowing chair mechanism linked to a chain and wheel of a bike. Rubber tubing allowed the bike chain to reset itself when the rowing chair was pulled into forward position. When pushed backward, the chair pulled a string through a pulley system, pulling the chain to rotate the bike wheel. The second propulsion system allowed the vehicle to go in reverse. Its battery-powered drill motor turned a roller, turning the bike wheel in the forward direction. The bike wheel sits on top of two rolling pins that spin, converting the forward motion into reverse motion, causing the vehicle to go backwards. The drill is activated via a bike-brake mechanism mounted around its trigger.
The high school team members are Elliot Fairbrass, Sarah Poole, Jostin Grimes, Taylore Brooks, Liam Fairbrass, Haley Spires, and Kris Irvin. Elliot and Sarah are currently juniors and have participated in the program for six consecutive years. They have competed at World Finals since 2009. Liam Fairbrass and Taylore Brooks are freshman. Liam has competed in World Finals since 6th grade. This will be Taylore’s second time competing at World. Jostin Grimes, a junior, joined the program as a freshman and will be competing in his third World Finals. Kris and Haley are new to the program this year and look forward to experiencing World for the first time.
Elliot Fairbrass—“As a six year member of GMC’s Odyssey of the Mind program, it is good to see how the program has progressed and the successes we have achieved. Every year presents a new challenge, but also an opportunity to further develop my problem-solving and engineering skills and ability to think quickly and decisively on my feet. I am excited to represent Georgia and GMC at World competition in Iowa.”
Haley Spires—“This is my first year doing Odyssey and it has been an amazing experience. Odyssey is a completely different world. Performing at regional and state finals was surreal. Having small children come up to you and tell you they want to make sure they watch our team perform is incredibly humbling. Our team has become a family and I have become more confident and creative than I ever believed possible. This past year has been magical.”
Sarah Poole—“Being involved with GMC’s Odyssey of the Mind team for the past six years has proved to be very beneficial. I’ve learned to work within a budget and manage money, since all of our solutions must meet budget requirements. It also pushes me personally with going outside my comfort zone in performance and construction/design of stagesets, costumes, and props. The skills that I have gained throughout many Odyssey work sessions have not only helped the team reach outstanding heights in competition, but also have prepared us for quick thinking and problem-solving in our adult future.”
Taylore Brooks—“Odyssey has helped me to come out of my shell. It has also helped develop my leadership skills and character. Overall, I feel the program has helped me to become a better person.”
Content provided by MAJ Emily Fairbrass