In sixth grade, Jackson Langley, Michael Lotz, and Diego Ruiz began a team for Odyssey of the Mind. In seventh grade, they were joined by Spencer Corley, followed by Tyler Long, Sam Landers, and Luke Barnes in Upper School. Coached by parents Leslie Langley and Bill Lotz – with all families pitching in and helping along the way – the team had one goal in mind when headed into their senior year – win the world championship.
And that’s what they did.
As shown on their website, “Odyssey of the Mind (OM) teaches students how to develop and use their natural creativity to become problem-solvers. Imagine being faced with a problem that requires an original solution. It can be frightening. Now imagine not being afraid to solve that problem – that is where oMG members learn.”
OM, an international program, helps students grow and reach their full potential.
Each year, Jackson, Michael, Diego, Spencer, Tyler, Sam, and Luke would work from October to mid-June, competing first in an annual regional tournament in February. They then would work to improve their solution for the state tournament in April. In May or June, the team would travel to the world championships, with final adjustments made.
Georgia has always been well-known for having a strong Odyssey of the Mind program. Each year, the team won first place in the region tournament, the state tournament, and qualified for world finals – a qualification only allotted to the top two teams in the state.
Class of 2022 Spencer Corley shared, “I have been doing OM since 7th grade and our goal has always been to get first place in the world. My team and I have had countless first place medals at region and state, but the best we had ever done at worlds was fifth place. We knew this would be our last year, and we had to go all in.”
For this year’s competition, the team built a vehicle that was six feet long and about 12 feet high. One of the team members had to travel to three locations, each 10 feet apart, and return to the starting location before traveling in reverse. The vehicle was required to use stored energy and have a break for stopping. Additionally, the vehicle needed special effects to make it smile and laugh.
All of these aspects were put together in an eight minute skit, fulfilling the requirements of the five page “problem” given to them in October. Tools and supplies needed for their solution included an arc welder, table saw, a LOT of cardboard, bicycle inner tubes, coat hangers, aluminum Coke and Sprite cans, paper mache, yarn, a razor scooter, concrete, and more. With all of their building and planning on a budget of just $140, a lot of the items used were recycled or repurposed.
When scoring a solution, a team can earn up to 200 points for their long-term solution, 100 points in the spontaneous competition, and 50 points for style, giving each team a possible total of 350. Creativity also plays an important role, as judges are looking for a solution that they have never seen before – something with a “wow” factor.
During the spontaneous competition, the full team enters a room where they are given a problem and a limited amount of time to solve it, generally between 3-5 minutes. In Grade 9, the team earned the Ranatra Fusca Award at the state tournament in the spontaneous category, the highest honor available for creativity.
Above and beyond their daily classwork, the members of this team are also involved in AP classes, fall, winter, and spring sports, music and band practices, Boy Scouts, and some even hold part-time jobs. On top of that, they were able to find an additional 10 hours to work on their solution together.
“We spent multiple weekends working 4-6 hours a day to perfect our skit and it all paid off. Getting first place in the world was such an amazing feeling, and I am so glad we put in all that time. OM taught me skills that I will use for life, and I will always remember all of the things my team accomplished.” – Class of 2022 Spencer Corley
Congratulations to Jackson, Michael, Diego, Spencer, Tyler, Sam, and Luke, as well as their coaches Leslie and Bill, and their supportive families!