Be a Judge!
Acting as an Odyssey of the Mind judge is one of the most rewarding activities you can do. Witnessing teams perform their creative solutions to the variety of open-ended problems each year can make you laugh, open your eyes to unusual and innovative ways of doing things and above all is fun!
Don’t take my word for it… watch how Odyssey participants “OMers” explain why you should be an Odyssey Judge!
Properly trained judges are a key element to holding a successful Odyssey of the Mind tournament. If teams leave feeling that they have been judged fairly by caring, interested and knowledgeable judges, then that tournament has been successful. Most tournaments require judges to attend a training session and pass a certification test.
So what roles could you sign up for as a Judge?
Highly outgoing individuals are likely candidates for positions with a great deal of team and audience interaction. Some people prefer looking for creativity and judging subjective areas that are based on opinion, while others prefer judging objective areas.
There are five key roles on a long-term judging team: (1) Staging Area Judge, (2) Timekeeper/Announcer, (3) Problem Judge, (4) Style Judge and (5) Head Judge. A separate team of officials judge spontaneous. There are also the positions of Score-checker.
Staging Area Judge
This is the first official to greet the team in long-term and must first and foremost be a friendly person who can make the kids and coaches feel at ease. They must be familiar with all the paperwork required for the problem, and they must know about any required items that must be checked in the Staging Area.
Staging Area Judges should be familiar with the competition venue and the problem in general so they can answer any questions the team asks while in the Staging Area. After reviewing the team’s paperwork the Staging Area Judge forwards it to the appropriate long-term judges and inspects the team’s props, membership sign, etc.
Timekeeper / Announcer
The Timekeeper/Announcer is responsible for introducing the team to the audience and giving each team the exact amount of time allowed for the problem. It is critical that the Timekeeper be precise and exact in this regard. The Timekeeper completes a checklist and then introduces the team to the judges and the audience. In problems where a penalty for overtime is given, he/she keeps exact time of the presentation and calculates how much the team went over time. In other problems he/she stops the team at the end of the 8 minutes.
The Problem Judge scores the team’s long-term solution. Problem Judges must be completely familiar with the rules of the problem. They have to be comfortable scoring subjective categories (opinion) or objective categories (either something was or wasn’t done, or did or did not work, and so on).
Problem judges do not rank teams; they evaluate problem solutions based on given criteria. Judges encourage and praise team members and are trained to evaluate and record what they observe.
Style Judges receive the teams’ Style Forms from the Staging Area Judge and review them for accuracy and to learn which areas they are to score. Style Judges need to know the overall idea of the problem and the specific items scored. They must determine if the categories selected for Style are not scored in the long-term problem, and if the Style is appropriate to the problem solution. Style Judges must be comfortable with subjective scoring, since this is the only way to score Style categories. Style Judges do not confer with each other to determine scores.
The Head Judge is an experienced judge and the leader of the judging team. The Head Judge keeps the judging team on time and on task, and reviews score sheets. He/she presents the scores to the team coaches and answers questions regarding the teams’ long-term scores. The Head Judge must be thoroughly familiar with the long-term problem and have the ability to handle people in a friendly, but firm, manner.
The score checkers (usually 2 people) collect score sheets from the scoring judges and review them before entering them into the scoring program or sending them off to the score room. The score checkers make sure the other judges score within the appropriate range for subjective categories and award the correct number of points for objective categories.
In Verbal problems, the other judges evaluate the team’s answers to a verbal prompt and determines whether team members give a common or creative response. In a hands-on problem, the judges generally score specific aspects of the problem e.g. creativity, team work, weight held, task achieved or not etc. In verbal-hands on problems, scoring is a some combination of verbal responses and object manipulation, task completion or performance. One judge will also review the various time allowances that will be given, e.g. think time, practice time, response time, and clearly tells each team when to begin and end each timed portion. Score checkers are also an integral part of a spontaneous judging team.