Odyssey of the Mind

Become a part of a creative problem-solving community

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and world level.

Download the 2019/20 Program Details and Registration Form

Previous Years Photos and Highlights

View photos from previous McKinley Odyssey teams!

Read this article about an all-girls engineering team from Glebe Elementary that competed at the GLOBAL level in 2018!

2019/20 Program Details and Registration

First Ask Yourself: Is Odyssey Right for Me?
  1. Do you want to commit to meetings after school once a week after Thanksgiving until the beginning of March? (You are not required to be at every meeting, but it is helpful to be present at as many as possible since the team will make decisions during each meeting.)
  2. Do you like to be creative and work with a team to solve a problem?
  3. Do any of this year’s problem descriptions (page 3 of this document) interest you? Teams with students in grades K-2 work with the one primary problem. Teams with students in grades 3-5 work on one of the five numbered problems.
    See an example of a K-2 Primary Problem: OM-Primary Problem Statement
  4. Are you available to perform your solution on Saturday, March 14 at West Potomac High School in Alexandria? Our participation takes several hours!
  5. Is your parent able to help out by coaching, judging, or volunteering? The program does not run without coaches.
If You Answered YES, Register and Join Us!

Complete the online form no later Wednesday, November 27. Or download and complete the form on the last page of this info packet, and return to the McKinley office by November 27.

Parents will receive a call or an e-mail from the Odyssey coordinator(s) by Monday, Dec. 2 to let you know the status. We will first need to find coaches for each team. From then on coaches will contact you directly about practices.

We will place as many children as we can on a team, but a team is only allowed 7 members, and we cannot form a team without a volunteer coach. Coaching is a great way to connect with your child and facilitate their Odyssey adventure!

KEY DATE: Regional Competition/Performance

How do students benefit from participation?


In Odyssey of the Mind, students learn at a young age skills that will last a lifetime. They work in teams so they learn cooperation, collaboration and respect for the ideas of others. They evaluate ideas and make decisions on their own, gaining greater self-confidence and increased self-esteem along the way. They work within a budget, so they learn to manage their money. They see that there’s often more than one way to solve a problem, and that sometimes the process is more important than the end result.

What is the student/parent commitment?

Students will meet with their team for 1 hour per week on a day and time that is agreed upon by the coach and the team. Most meetings will be held at McKinley after school. They will run from November through March. Odyssey of the Mind is run completely by volunteers.

Parents will be needed to coach teams, to help the team’s coach, or to serve as judges or volunteers at the competition. If you sign your child up for Odyssey of the Mind, you should expect to help out in some capacity!

How You Can Help

Coach team members after school in areas such as building mechanical devices and presenting their interpretation of literary classics.

Contact the program chair(s) if you wish to help.

2023-24 Program Chair(s)

Amanda Panko (amillerpanko@gmail.com)

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