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2007 World Finals

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May 18, 2007

Jennifer Veale

Creative Kids Making a Difference at Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Gloucester City, N.J.--- Over 800 teams of creative students from around the world will be competing in the 28th annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals from May 23 --26 at Michigan State University. Students from different cultures and widely varying economic backgrounds will prove that creativity is universal. It doesn't matter whether a team comes from Shanghai China or Monterrey, Mexico or Washington D.C. They will all demonstrate their unique creative solution to an Odyssey of the Mind problem while appreciating the creativity of others.

The teams have worked throughout the school year solving an Odyssey of the Mind problem and were judged as the most creative in a series of rigorous state and national competitions. At East Lansing, Michigan, the teams will represent their state and country in hopes to prove that they are the world's most creative problem-solvers. Odyssey of the Mind has teams throughout the United States and in more than 25 other countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Germany, and Mexico.

They will come with interesting costumes, original stage sets, and innovative inventions -- all part of solving an Odyssey problem. This year's choice of problems include:

• Tag 'Em: Students must design vehicles and a device to tag them while they are traveling across the floor.
• The Long and Short of It: Teams tell a story with small storybook-type pages and make it "come alive" by using large versions of the pages as stage sets.
• Around the World in 8 Minutes: Students take a trip of discovery during a performance. They visit any known location of their choice, a polar location, and a newly "discovered" location created by them. This problem is sponsored by NASA.
• Out of the Box Balsa: Eighteen grams of balsa wood and glue are designed into structures that have been known to hold thousands of pounds. This year the structure will be in parts that fit into a small box that are assembled during a performance and tested by holding as much weight as possible.
• I'm Only Thinking of You: This original humorous performance features a team-made self-centered character that takes advantage of others but gets caught in the act in the end.

These problems are judged on creativity and risk-taking. The students learn to apply their creativity to problem solving. Teams also learn how to manage time and money, how to share ideas and negotiate with one another, and to perform in front of an audience. Because the problems provide for divergent solutions students incorporate their knowledge and interests into their solutions such as math, history, art, music, science, acrobatics, athletics, robotics, and anything else a child can imagine and enjoy.

Although this is a competition to be a world champion, kids will form life-long friendships with their teammates and opponents. These friendships span the globe! Through Odyssey, they learn to communicate and appreciate different cultures. The Odyssey of the Mind "family" is made up of many different cultures, personalities, and ages. There will be 800 teams of "kids" between the ages of eight and 80!

There are also many other events at World Finals, such as the Creativity Festival. Booths from each Odyssey state or country will challenge attendees with creative games. NASA, our sponsor, will have a booth at the festival handing out informational materials. Entry to the competitions and festival are free.

The competition will conclude with an Awards Ceremony, where over 16,000 people will gather to see the World Champions of Creativity announced. During this ceremony, an Odyssey of the Mind Creativity Award will also be given out to someone who has made a positive difference in society using creativity. This year's award will go to students from Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee for the Paper Clip Project, which used creative teaching methods to teach tolerance by gathering paper clips to help explain the Holocaust. Their project was depicted in the motion picture documentary called Paper Clips.

Like most kids, Odyssey of the Mind team members will exceed expectations when given the opportunity to express themselves. At World Finals, few will become World Champions, but every team that solved their problem is a winner.

An article written about World Finals in Smithsonian Magazine called it "a dizzying four-day think-a-thon that looks like some kind of kooky cross between science fair, masquerade party, performing arts fest and the Olympics."

Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program for students from K-college. Founded in 1978, it is the oldest and largest creative problem-solving competition in the world. Learn more at www.odysseyofthemind.com.

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