Update on OM World Finals
Ron Raab-Long (raablong@DMV.COM)
Mon, 1 Jun 1998 15:07:00 -0400
Since so many of you are also OMER's, judging by the response I got from
my message last week, I thought I'd let you know my thoughts on the OM
(Odyssey of the Mind) World Finals. For those not familiar with the OM,
it is an international creative competition for kids from elementary
school through college. Teams compete in one of five problems where
they present an 8 minute solution in the most creative way they can.
The problems encompass things such as building a balsa wood structure
that weighs around 15 grams - and holds > 1,400 pounds, building a
vehicle that is able to follow a pre-determined route and accomplish
certain tasks, develop a skit based on ancient societies, build a series
of small cars using alternative power sources that perform certain
tasks, and create an inanimate object that seems to come alive during
their preformance. They must also complete a spontaneous problem where
they are given a problem, have a minute to think about it, then must
provide possible solutions within a five minute period. Emphasis is on
risk taking, thinking "out of the box", and presenting unusual
This year's World Finals were held in Walt Disney World in Florida.
There were teams from 48 states, Washington, DC, and 22 foreign
countries. The competion sites were spread out over the Disney theme
parks for maximum exposure. The problem I judged, Create and Animate,
was held in the Disney theatre on the town square just inside the Magic
Kingdom's main gate. Others were held outside at Epcot Center,
Disney-MGM Studios, and the the new Disney Wide World of Sports Center.
The Disney folks bent over backwards to accomodate us and were as
gracious as any host could possibly be. But, if truth be told, their
just too big and fancy for the OM. For those who have attended before,
you know how important the competition is to the kids. I have been
involved in OM for about 8 years. Usually, about half the teams start
crying when they're finished, just from emotional exhaustion. They've
worked on their problems for months and its all over in just a few
minutes. At Disney, the competition seemed to become secondary. The
kids were tired from all the running around they were doing, and just
wanted to get it over with.
The exposure OM was looking for didn't happen either. Even though
Disney advertised the OM on all their park brochures, it was just too
hard to get people to sit and watch the teams perform with Space
Mountain and Mickey Mouse just outside. Our site averaged about 30-40
spectators - less than I usually get at our state competition in
Delaware. Still, the overall level of performances was exceptional.
One piece of good news (at least for me), a team from William Henry
Middle School, here in Dover, Delaware received a Second Place finish in
one of the problems. Its the first time a Delaware school has taken
home any hardware, and I believe its a team that includes one of my
Scouts that just crossed over. You guys in Texas, Pennsylvania, New
York, etc., probably think its no big deal, you've won lots of times.
But here in Delaware - its BIG news!
This was my first time judging at Worlds. It was quite an experience,
and I met a bunch of wonderful people. Our Timekeeper was a school
teacher from Plano, Texas. She ipitomized what the OM is all about.
Her humor, attitude, and way with dealing with the kids made all our
jobs easier - plus she gave back rubs to the entire judging team on a
I'll end by suggesting that all of you should look into getting involved
with the OM in your states. I know by virtue of your involvement with
Scouts that you all care about the future of our children. And OM,
since its limited to a few competitionas a year - really will take less
than an hour a week (if you average it over the year.)
Sorry for taking up so much bandwidth, but the OM is as addictive as
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City