The primary problem is reserved for K-2 participants. The purpose of the primary division is for participants to learn about Odyssey of the Mind, get a feel for team dynamics and problem solving, and understand the process of competing. The format is largely the same as the older divisions in that teams receive a long-term problem, develop their solution through the year, and present at a tournament.
Key differences in the primary problem
However, there are procedures and rules which differ from the older divisions:
are optional for primary, but it would be good to have the team at least become familiar with them. Not only will they need to know about forms if they advance to Division I, but the forms can help organize the solving process to the team.
are not usually given to primary teams. However, a coach may wish to organize parents to score the team. Why? Because the scores can help a team plan its time and decide what they need to do. Also, the team may wish to “score themselves” at a rehearsal, just to see how they think they are doing. Remember, this is about learning and feeling good about problem solving. Scores can help with that process.
Feedback in the form of comment sheets may be given in some regions to primary teams at the tournament. If a region does not give the team any comments, a coach might ask the regional director whether that would be possible. If not, the coach could have the team parents write down a few comments for the team. KEEP THESE POSITIVE. Do not allow any negative remarks to spoil the hard effort of these young Odyssey team members.
may or may not be offered to primary teams at a regional tournament. However, teams should still practice spontaneous. Spontaneous thinking is a fundamental ability in creative problem solving. A team has FUN with spontaneous, and may not even realize they are learning to work together, to analyze problems, to think divergently, and to take risks. Whether someone is 5 or 55, spontaneous problem solving teaches a way of thinking that we can all use in our lives every day. Let the primary teams have fun with spontaneous … just adapt the problems for their age level!
Meetings should be adapted to the age level. It is unlikely that a group of Kindergarten-age students will want to work at any given task for an hour! Plan meetings accordingly. Enlist the aid of parents, if necessary, to allow the team to work in several small groups.
should also be adjusted for the age level. Don’t expect primary teams to invent cold fusion in a bottle, or paint like Degas! And, even more important, don’t allow the parents to expect the team to have the polish and expertise that the team would have if the PARENTS were helping solve the problem
!! Sometimes it is difficult for parents to understand that a tree painted pink is OK! This is about learning, not about perfection. (And who said a tree couldn’t be pink, anyway??) Parents following these guidelines also helps prepare the team to avoid outside assistance
in the future.
are not given to primary teams, since they generally receive no scores!! However, good behavior is certainly expected, and parents could be asked to remove a child from the tournament if the behavior is totally unacceptable. (It never is … these teams are very excited to be participating!)
FUN and LEARNING should be the primary focus of primary team (and for all teams.) This is not a competition for them, and everyone should relax and enjoy the showcase of the talent of these young teams!