Kettering students join youth at Odyssey of Mind championships

May 18, 2001

Kettering and Flint, Michigan, will be well represented when the World Championships of "Odyssey of the Mind" open in June.

Kettering and Flint, Michigan, will be well represented when the World Championships of "Odyssey of the Mind" open in June.

Kettering is helping to send two teams -- a group of Kettering students and a team from Randels Elementary in Flint Township. World Championships are at the University of Maryland in College Park, June 2-5.

Kettering's team of five students will participate in the college division, where students will compete in the Achilles Heel problem and also serve as judges in the lower division events.

In Achilles' Heel, teams build and test a structure made of balsa wood and glue with a vulnerable spot (the Achilles Heel of Homer fame). The structure will be tested by balancing and supporting as much weight as possible while being hit by a team-created, free-wheeling vehicle at its "Achilles' Heel." The vehicle must hit the Achilles' Heel part of the structure in intervals determined by the weight supported by the structure.

The structure must stand between eight and 8.5 inches high and weigh no more than 18 grams. The Achilles' Heel of the structure must be a piece of wood, painted black, that touches the top of the tester base and the bottom of the crusher board. However, it may touch a piece that is parallel to and touching the tester base and/or a piece that is parallel to and touching the bottom of the crusher board.

The vehicle will be made by the team using team-made and/or commercially produced parts. It will not have a power supply. When it is time for an impact, it will roll down a ramp and hit the Achilles' Heel. The vehicle may be designed as simply or complexly as the team wishes within its limitations. There is no score for the vehicle even though it must meet certain specifications.

The students from Randels Elementary, which is part of Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools, will compete with youth from dozens of countries in contests focused on robotics. Kettering is among the sponsors helping send the robotics team to world championships. Six boys and girls, aged 10-12 years old and in the fifth and sixth grades, built two "techno-pet" robots. The robots perform eight simple functions.

The team from Randels finished second in state finals to qualify for World Championships, which will host teams from 20 countries and 43 states.

What is the Odyssey of the Mind?
(Visit the Odyssey of the Mind web site at:

The Odyssey of the Mind is a program that develops creative-thinking skills in students from kindergarten through college. Students must learn to be part of a team. Each year five new competitive problems are presented to appeal to people with a wide range of interests. Some of the problems are technical in nature, while others are artistic or performance based. Through solving problems students develop creative skills that can be transferred to real-life situations.

The program was created by Dr. Sam Micklus, professor emeritus at Rowan University in New Jersey. He and his son, Sammy, president of Creative Competitions Inc., develop the problems to be solved. A team of five to seven people develops a solution to a problem and presents the solution in a competition against other teams in the same division. Divisions I, II and III are determined by age. Division IV is for college students.

The first level of competition is often within a region of a state. Teams that place are then invited to compete at the association finals. These championship teams are then invited to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. Here, teams from across the United States compete with teams from many countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Singapore and Slovakia. New countries enter the competition each year.

In competitions, teams are judged for the long-term problem solution (worth up to 200 points); how well they solve the spontaneous problem, presented on the day of competition (worth up to 100 points); and on style, or the enhancement of the long-term problem solution (worth up to 50 points). The aggregate score determines a team's rank in the competition. Not-for-profit organizations in various states within the United States are licensed by Creative Competitions Inc. to provide training and competitions for participants. There are similar licensees for other countries.