Each semester, Colgate students flock to the activities fair to sign up for extracurricular activities, hoping to build their resumes. However, activities like these are no longer just for college-age or high school students. At Hamilton Central School, students in grades as low as kindergarten are signing up for the after-school Odyssey of the Mind program, as they and their parents wish to broaden their horizons and take part of some academic activities outside of the classroom.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that allows students to get creative and problem solve. Each group of students participating in the program works on a problem or a project that is unique from year to year. Some of the projects this year include creating a shock-resistant tower out of balsa wood, designing a vehicle that changes its appearance as it travels from environment to environment and presenting an original rendition of a Heracles play.
After the students have completed the project, they travel to competitions to present what they have worked on. Students compete at the local, state and international levels and present what they have worked on for eight minutes in front of judges. In addition to presenting the project they have prepared, participants are also must solve an impromptu puzzle that requires them to think on their feet and work together as a group.
Hamilton Central School has kept this program going for twenty years, and what makes it so unique is that young students are given the chance to work independently from teachers or parents. Each time has a volunteer coach, usually a parent, but he or she simply supervises, as the students are expected, as well as quite eager, to apply their own creativity and hard work.
“This is a great opportunity for an extracurricular activity that is not a sport,” Kathleen Stahl, who helps coordinate the Odyssey of the Mind program and has children in the program, said.
Stahl has seen this program grow over the past few years, and is currently pursuing the help of Colgate students to coach and bring in a fresh perspective to make this program an even stronger one.