Braille Works & Odyssey of the Mind

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Braille Works is proud to be a longtime sponsor of Odyssey of the Mind.  This year we are pleased that two of our team members, Donald Garcia and Christine Sket, are working with area students as team coaches. Donald and Christine both see the value of the Odyssey of the Mind program for students.

People in the stands at Odyssey of the Mind

What is Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey of the Mind is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Education, Art, Math) based creative problem-solving process that involves a couple of components in problem-solving.  There is a Long Term problem that teams of seven students must solve. Students find solutions to the problem without adult input or assistance, over a time period of up to six months.  The Long Term problem also has a style component that requires students to go beyond just solving the problem.  Finally, there is a Spontaneous problem that the team must address in front of a panel of judges. Students do not know what the Spontaneous Problem will be until they enter the room with the judges.

Students learn how to work as a team, communicate ideas, and explain solutions.  Odyssey of the Mind is a hands-on learning approach that lets students learn by doing. Students are able to try, fail, learn for the mistakes, try again, and eventually reach success.  Odyssey of the Mind also allows students to apply what they learn in the classroom in a real situation.  Participants in the Odyssey of the Mind program learn valuable life and work skills.

What does an Odyssey of the Mind Coach do?

An Odyssey of the Mind coach provides support for the team.  A coach is present at most meetings to help the team understand the problem, provide requested resources and training. A coach also keeps the group safe and on track.  Coaches provide support for the team members to grow in their problem-solving abilities and setbacks.

An Odyssey of the Mind team huddled up on a basketball court

Meet our Team Members and Odyssey of the Mind Coaches

Donald Garcia is coaching a Middle School team of 6 students from Rowlett Academy in Bradenton, Florida.  The team is tasked with building a car that team members can ride with a self-contained propulsion system. One twist is the vehicle needs to be taken apart and placed into a suitcase and rebuilt on sight.  The car also has to complete specific tasks as prescribed by the problem.  If that isn’t enough, the team must also write a play and perform it in front of an audience and judges while the car completes its tasks.

These Rowlett Middle School students, under the coaching of Donald Garcia and his wife Kristin Garcia, will be representing the Tampa Bay region in the Odyssey of the Mind State of Florida Finals.  The Garcia Team won first place for their creative problem solving on March 2, 2019, at the Buccaneer Bay Regional Competition.

Donald Garcia and his Odyssey of the Mind 2019 team

Donald is used to managing a team as the Document Automation Project Manager at Braille Works. Donald “…focuses on technologies that automate the remediation of documents. He places precedence on collaboration with other Braille Works teams to create systems that automate the entire remediation process as well as ad hoc tools that automate specific tasks.”  He is no stranger to making the seemingly impossible possible.

Christine Sket has been coaching Odyssey of the Mind for almost a decade. She also coaches students from Rowlett Academy in Bradenton, Florida.  This year she coached three teams, and all three took first place in the Buccaneer Bay Regional Competition.  She coaches the same problem as Donald for elementary school students.  She also co-coaches the balsa wood structure problem for middle school students and the technical problem for high school students.

Christine Sket is a contracted subject matter expert in the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and other Federal Laws that pertain to and protect individuals with disabilities.  Christine writes content for Braille Works blogs and collaborates with the marketing team.  She also consults and instructs on topics specific to ADA and Disability-related subject matter.

Christine Sket and her Odyssey of the Mind 2019 team

Best of Luck

Braille Works wish all of the Odyssey of the Mind teams the best of luck as they move on to the next level of competition.  We also look forward to seeing how these future problem solvers will help in making the world a more accessible place for people with disabilities.

Learn more about Odyssey of the Mind at https://www.odysseyofthemind.com.

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This post was written by Christine Sket

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