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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Odyssey of the Mind is the kind of program you learn best by doing.  However, newcomers to the program often share several of the same initial questions.  Below, we list some of those questions (and their answers) to help you better understand OM.

Q: Is there an Odyssey of the Mind group in my area for my child to join?

A: Odyssey of the Mind teams are sponsored by schools, community organizations, or individual groups (e.g., homeschool), so if you aren't sure if there's an Odyssey group in your area, the best thing to do is to ask your child's school if they have the program. If they do, great! If not, let us know, and we'll help you bring the Odyssey of the Mind program to your school, community, and/or family.

Q: My child's school doesn't have Odyssey of the Mind; what can I do?

A: Easy! Start a program! We can help you work with your child's school to begin an Odyssey program or, if the school is unable to support a program, with a local community organization - like the local library, scouts, or even the local VFW. An Odyssey team can compete under the name of any existing organization. Homeschool teams are also an option. In other words, we will do everything we can to make sure your child/children can participate!

Q: How will I know what to do once I start an Odyssey of the Mind group?

A: Illinois Odyssey of the Mind has created a 45-page "Getting Started" manual that provides new members a step-by-step guide to ensure success in OM!  We even provide a schedule called "The 10-Week Method "to help new coaches have a 'curriculum guide' of sorts to keep their teams on track to be ready for competition. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us using the form below with details about your school, location, and contact information. You'll have an Odyssey program up and running in no time!

Q: What is the cost to do the program? Do you offer financial aid?

A: An Odyssey of the Mind membership is $290 for the full academic year.  It is important to note that this *single* membership fee of $290 covers as many teams as the membership can provide: whether your membership has a single team or 20 teams, the membership fee is the same -- $290 total.  Thus, a single team of 7 participants means OM costs $41 per pupil for the academic year, while 20 teams of 7 participants means OM costs about $2 per pupil for the academic year.  This approach allows us to bring the program to more young people without cost being an issue, as schools and community groups can welcome as many participants as possible in a single membership!  Schools that provide OM as an activity typically pay this fee, but community groups, sponsors, and parents are allowed to pay the fee or chip in to cover the $290 membership.  Otherwise, there is no cost to participate in the program other than the cost of the materials the team uses to solve its selected problem.  Each problem features a "cost limit" - a constraint that keeps the competition fair and affordable for all participating teams.  Some teams will develop solutions that cost $0 - choosing to use "object work" instead of real props to creatively (and cheaply) convey objects.  Constraints enhance creativity!  Although Illinois Odyssey does not offer financial aid, we are able to work with schools to ensure cost is not the reason your students don't get to experience Odyssey.

Q: Is Odyssey of the Mind only for gifted and talented students?

A: Nope! Everyone is welcome to compete in Odyssey of the Mind. While many schools do offer Odyssey of the Mind as part of their gifted and talented curriculum, plenty of other schools keep their Odyssey programs open to any interested student.  Illinois Odyssey of the Mind believes that all students can benefit from the Odyssey of the Mind school program!

Q: Is Odyssey of the Mind the same thing as Destination Imagination? They sound similar?

A: Nope, but there is a history there!  Odyssey of the Mind (OM) is the original creative problem-solving program that began in 1978 and has been providing competitions around the U.S. and in over 30 nations for 40+ years!  Destination Imagination (DI) was started by a subset of OM volunteers several years ago and has a very similar structure to OM (e.g., OM: Long-Term Problems - DI: Challenges; OM: Spontaneous - DI: Instant Challenges; OM: Judges - DI: Appraisers; OM: Style - DI: Team Choice Elements).  The good news is that if you're already familiar with Destination Imagination, then you'll surely understand Odyssey of the Mind, given that DI is based on OM.  One important difference: the cost.  OM has managed to provide the same quality program for over four decades in a way that is much more affordable.  For example, DI charges a fee per team while OM charges a single membership fee (which permits multiple teams under that single membership).  Similarly, DI's cost to attend Global Finals (that program's version of OM's World Finals) is roughly $5,000 each year just to register; this does not include any housing or food costs.  The cost for a team to attend OM's World Finals is about the same but, importantly, includes housing and food.  Plus, OMers at World Finals get to spend a week making memories together on a major university campus (the location rotates among several universities), giving students a taste of the college experience!  We love the fact that young people can participate in creative problem solving no matter what program they do; we're just glad we are able to provide the same exceptional quality we have provided for almost fifty years for a fraction of the cost.

Q: Is Illinois Odyssey of the Mind a company? Do you have staff members?

A: Nope. Odyssey of the Mind is an international program whose tournaments are hosted in Illinois by the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization Illinois Knowledge Quest (IKQ). IKQ trains new OM coaches, onboards new schools and memberships, and runs OM competitions throughout Illinois thanks to scores of volunteers throughout the state who give their time and talent to make sure young Illinoisans can participate in Odyssey of the Mind.  From the Association Director to the Judge Coordinator, the State Problem Captains to the Merchandise Manager, everyone you'll meet and interact with at Illinois Odyssey of the Mind competitions is a volunteer!  For more information about how you can volunteer, please visit our volunteer page.

Q: When will the competition schedule be released for the Illinois tournament?

A: In order to schedule teams for the big competition, our volunteer coordinator has to know how many judges/volunteers will be available and when. As such, the competition schedule is typically completed once all the judge/volunteer training events have taken place (usually one week prior to the competition). We'd love to get it to teams sooner, but we get it out as quickly as possible. If there are scheduling concerns, just let us know!

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