By Earl Bittner, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Affairs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Several Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast employees participated in the annual Manatee Region, Odyssey of the Mind, Regional Tournament held March 1 at Bishop Snyder High School in Jacksonville, Fla.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international nonprofit organization that promotes creative problem solving, innovative thinking and teambuilding for students ages kindergarten through college.
"Watching the kid's minds work as they come up with creative solutions to the scenarios is just so impressive and inspiring," said NAVFAC Southeast engineer Scott Glass.
Glass first got involved in 2002 when his daughter, then a third grade student, brought home a permission slip and said she wanted to compete but only if "daddy would be a judge."
Volunteers assisted with judging one of five problem 'solutions' presented by teams from Northeast Florida to Gainesville.
The students apply creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level.
Teams competed in one of three divisions; elementary, middle or high school and presented their eight minute solution to the judging team in one of five categories where they were scored on the creativity, innovation and quality of their solutions. Categories include vehicle, technical, structural, theatrical and literary classics problems. The winning teams will represent the Manatee Region at the State Tournament April 12 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
NAVFAC Southeast employees have supported Odyssey of the Mind for several years. This year's NAVFAC Southeast volunteers included Ryan Howard, PWD Mayport; Doug Mercer, Assistant Regional Engineer Staff, Trish Loop, PWD Mayport; Scott Glass, South Atlantic IPT; and Cheryl Mitchell, PWD Mayport.
Glass and Mercer and their spouses are part of the Manatee Regional Board and have participated in the program for more than a decade.
"We wore funny hats to add a little light heartedness to the judging," said Glass. "We just try to make it fun for everyone especially some of the more timid participants."
Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the Odyssey of the Mind program. The 35th Annual World Finals will be hosted by Iowa State University in May.