How does it work?
There are no “try outs”. POMA sponsors “team formation nights” each Fall. These take place at the middle schools. Volunteer coaches are identified and then all students are placed on teams of 5 to 7 students. The goal is that every student that attends a “team formation night” will be placed on a team. It’s not a very scientific process, but everyone goes home happy.The teams will then practice from the Fall until the late February regional competition.
What are the competition levels?
In the U.S., the first level of competition is usually within a region of a state. Teams who place are invited to compete at the mid April state level tournaments. These championship teams are then invited to participate in the annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals during Memorial Day weekend. They will compete with teams from countries around the world such as Canada, China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Poland, India, Singapore, and Uzbekistan. New countries join the program each year.
How are teams judged in competition?
Thousands of volunteers from around the world judge the competitions and serve in various positions to help make the tournaments a success. Teams are scored for their long-term problem solution, "style" (the elaboration of their long-term problem solution) and how well they solve a "spontaneous" question.
Do I need to register my team?
As a coach, you will need to register your team on the national web site. POMA will take you through that process.
Do I get to pick my problem challenge?
Pennsbury has so many teams that we use a lottery process. You will select your top 3 choices of the 5 problems. If you are one of only two teams that selected your first choice, you will receive it. Multiple teams requesting the same problem enter a lottery. The reason we do this is because only the top 2 teams can advance to the state tournament and we want to avoid Pennsbury teams eliminating each other. Keep in mind that there are 3 divisions: elementary, middle and high school. Each gets to select from the 5 problems. So there are 30 combinations of problem positions. If we have more than 30 teams, we simply increase the number of Pennsbury teams competing against each other.
How is the team scored?
The long term performance solution can receive a maximum of 200 points. Performance Style can receive 50 points. Spontaneous question responses receive a maximum of 100 points. You will learn all about scoring during your POMA training.
Where do we practice?
Practice typically takes place at the home of the coaches. Be sure to have space for constructing scenery, props and costumes. You can also request space from your school principal.
How do I advance in the competition?
First and second place will advance. A tie for second will advance both teams. If there are a large number of teams competing in a problem, a third or even a fourth place team will advance.
What is the time commitment of a coach?
It is about 2 1/2 hours per week at the start of the season. That could be a 1 ½ hour long term practice on the weekend and a 1 hour spontaneous practice during the week. As the season progresses and you get closer to the competition, the amount of time may increase depending on the progress of the team.
Where can I find examples of spontaneous questions?
POMA has a list of spontaneous questions in coaches section of this web site. In addition, questions can be found by searching the internet.
Where can I find examples of long term problem solutions?
Search on YouTube under “Odyssey of the Mind World Finals High School”.
How much outside assistance can I give for the long term solution?
You can only guide the students. What is presented has to be their ideas. “Outside Assistance” will be explained during our coaches training.
How much outside assistance can I give for spontaneous training?
There is no limit. The Outside Assistance rule does not apply to spontaneous.
How much spontaneous training is really necessary?
A lot. Spontaneous is a key component of your overall score at the competition. It is also an excellent exercise that builds team chemistry.
How much of the paperwork do the kids need to do themselves?
That depends on the age of the students. Middle school and above must complete the paperwork themselves. The paperwork that has to be submitted at the competition will be explained during our training.
What will OM do for my child that they are not going to get at soccer/team sports?
Instead of physical exercise, OM will give them mental exercise. The program puts students in an adult situation. They will learn to work in a group, communicate, and utilize a budget and a timetable.
What is the time commitment of my child?
It will be about 2 1/2 hours a week to start. Typically one practice on the weekend and one during the week. This time may increase depending on the progress of the team.
What are the costs associated with OM?
To fund the program, each student pays $150. This is about the fee you pay each year to participate on a sports team. POMA will fund a student in cases of hardship.
Can I help him/her sew their costume, use power tools, etc?
You cannot participate in any physical aspect of construction. However, you can teach and guide the team members.
How can I help the coaches out? It's really a lot of work on their part.
Think of yourself as an assistant coach. Ask what you can do to help. That might mean bringing snacks to the practice, helping to organize the students, etc.
Can we use costumes we already have? What if they're homemade?
Yes. For example, you can use a halloween costume if it is applicable to your performance. A homemade costume is ideal because it was created by the team.
What does it take to make it to World competition?
The most competitive teams have great chemistry between the team members, coaches and parents/guardians. Everyone is sharing in and enjoying the journey towards the competition.
Can we ask our coaches for ideas?
Your coaches cannot give you their ideas. That would be outside assistance. What they will do is ask you questions so that you are able to think of your own ideas.
How do you determine prices for items, especially when they are trash or donated supplies?
Just use an honest estimate of the current value. Think of what you would pay for at a yard sale.