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Journey to the center of your mind

By Maria G. Ortiz-Briones

Creative problem-solving skills and outside the box thinking are some of the things students learn to develop while participating in the Odyssey of the Mind competition.

Today , the Odyssey of the Mind South/Central Valley Regional Finals competition is taking place at Hanford High School.

This is the seventh year the competition has taken place in Hanford, said Odyssey of the Mind Regional and State Director Mark Lopes. He said there are 40 teams - four teams from Kings County and the rest from Kern, San Luis Oblispo, Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Inyo and Mono counties.

Lopes said there are two teams from Hanford High School and two teams from Kit Carson Elementary School.

"This is their first year participating," Lopes said of Kit Carson's teams.

The winners from today's competition will advance to the State Finals at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia on March 31. The State Finalist will be eligible to travel to Michigan State University, in East Lansing, for the 2007 World Finals May 23-26, Lopes said.

Some 250 students are participating at the regional tournament said Lopes, who has been the regional director for seven years and the state director for three and a half years.

According to Lopes there are three divisions in the competition. Division 1 is for third- through fifth-graders, Division 2 is 6th through eighth grade and Division 3 is the high school level.

Every year, Lopes said there are five different problems for teams to pick one out of the five to solve.

Lopes said this year NASA is sponsoring problem number three which is named "Around the World in 8 Minutes."

He said this problem has been one of the most popular for this tournament with 18 teams competing to solve the problem.

Lopes said Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem solving and hands-on competition for students.

He said it teaches students creative thinking, team building and brain storming, among other things.

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