Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Judging Odyssey of the Mind

It was intriguing to find out about a thing in the US called "Odyssey of the Mind" that is supposed to be a contest that challenges kids of all ages to "think outside of the box". I was really skeptical about how anything could be *judged* as being "outside the box", but the judge's training kind of gave me a glimpse at a possibility and since I'd volunteered so that a team from Blue Mountain Elementary could go to the competition, I thought I should follow through with that.

I had the judges training just before Biloxi, and was asked to judge today. The team had to go to Littleton, which is an hour to an hour and a half drive away, so I was up at 6:30 this morning to get there on time.

It was surprisingly easy after a week of getting up at 6:30 Central Time, now that I'm back in Mountain time, and I was up and functional far earlier than I thought I could be. I think that if I just stayed getting up that early that I might actually like it.


And I loved the long drive in, for some odd reason, it touched off all of my LA-girl buttons, going a steady lick bumper to tail with the car in front of me on three or four lanes of freeway just felt really good all of a sudden.

I got there plenty early, got my judging t-shirt and was amused when the lady at the table said that I was skinny enough to fit into a medium. I have now lost nearly ten pounds since the beginning of the Biloxi trip, and have been feeling kind of skinny, to have it confirmed from outside of me was very nice.

The judging team for Problem 1 for the southern Colorado division was nicely set up by the head judges. There were two of them. There was a pre-staging judge, a staging judge, an announcer/timekeeper, a scorekeeper, three problem judges, three style judges, and one guy who simply helped out with anything that needed helping with. And the whole judge team was involved whenever penalties were assessed.

I was one of the "problem" judges, and it was an odd blend of just figuring out if the requirements were met and how "originally" and "creatively" the kids did them. I was glad that I had more of the "did they do it at all" sorts of things to measure while the style folks did more of the "how well did they do it?" sorts of things. That was cool. And with six of us, the scores were pretty well modulated.

I got to see 11 teams bring on their creations.

And did the judging on them all, which was kind of exhausting. The team of judges was fun to work with, and I found myself really liking that part of it, having fun people getting to a common goal was really cool in many ways.

The whole process was pretty clear and clean, especially by the end of the whole thing. But I was oddly disappointed, for me at least, while there were some good ideas and some fun approaches, nothing really surprised me to the point of wow, they're really being super creative or being particularly surprisingly out of the box. Most of the elementary school kids had ideas that were more unconventional than the high schoolers did. That was... intriguing to see.

Got to see a few of the parents doing the competitive parent thing, too, which is always kind of a let down.

I think the idea is solid, I'm still contemplating the actual implementation of it all before I'll really try to get Jet into that kind of competition next year. I'm also very glad that I did do the judging before contemplating even coaching, so that I understand what it is that is expected of the kids. It was obvious that some of the coaches had no clue what really needed to be done, and their kids really suffered in the competition because they and their coach had no idea what the definition of the problem even was. They'd worked off the synopsis rather than the actual requirements. *sigh*

It was worth a single Saturday, but I'm going to have to think a bit about it all. I suspect that Jet might well learn how to think outside the box more easily without a competition result hinging on it, given how John and I think anyway.

I got home around 4:30 and the boys had taken care of themselves. John made dinner, and we ate, and Jet and I played for most of the evening and did both video games and making one of Jet's stuffies. He's into making stuffies right now, and we're gradually putting together a tree stuffie for him. *grins*

Tomorrow's an early start, so I'm probably headed for bed now.
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