By Earl Bittner, NAVFAC Southeast Public Affairs Office
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 7 at Pacetti Bay Middle School in St. Augustine, Fla.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international nonprofit organization that promotes creative problem solving, innovative thinking and teamwork for students ages kindergarten through college.
"I love watching the kids come up with creative solutions to the scenarios," said NAVFAC Southeast Integrated Product Team South Atlantic Deputy Assistant Operations Officer Scott Glass. "Watching their minds work fills me with awe and keeps me coming back year after year."
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."
Other NAVFAC Southeast volunteers joined Glass this year at the event to assist with judging the presentations of teams from the greater Jacksonville area to Gainesville, Fla.
Teams competed in one of three divisions (elementary, middle or high school) and presented their solutions to the judging team in one of five categories including vehicle, technical, structural, theatrical and literary classics problems. The teams were scored on the creativity, innovation and quality of their solutions. The students apply creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.
The winning teams will represent the Manatee Region at the State Tournament April 11 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Glass and Doug Mercer (recently retired from NAVFAC Southeast) and their spouses are part of the Manatee Regional Board and have participated in the program for more than a decade. They wear funny hats as they act as judges to add a little light-heartedness to the judging.
"We try to add a little levity to put the more shy participants at ease," said Glass.
Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the Odyssey of the Mind program. The 2015 World Finals will be hosted by Michigan State University May 20-23.