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2008 World Finals

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Jennifer Veale

Odysseys of the Mind kids take over Maryland!

College Park, M.D. -- Over 800 teams of creative students from around the world will be competing in the 29th annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals from May 31 -- June 3 at the University of Maryland. Students from different cultures and widely varying economic backgrounds will prove that creativity is universal. 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 OotM problem and were judged as the most creative in a series of rigorous state and national competitions. At UM, 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 15 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:

• Odyssey Road Rally: OotM's new take on the Road Rally -- teams navigate their inventive vehicles around checkpoints while playing a variety of sports. No vehicle will be alike since teams choose and create the sports that the vehicle will perform.

• DinoStories: What might have happened to the dinosaurs that existed so many years ago? Teams tackle this question in a humorous performance that also tests their technological skills. Teams must build a dinosaur and use some form of technology in giving their bound-to-be-interesting "extinction theory."

• Classics. . . Those Wonderful Muses: Be inspired by teams while they try to influence important figures in history as they portray the Greek muses and use each muse's special skill. They will also inspire a team-created character that tries to make a positive impact on the world. They will also feature two works of their own art.

• Tee Structure: Eighteen grams of balsa wood and glue are designed into structures that have been known to hold thousands of pounds. This year the structure holds golf balls that in turn hold as much weight as possible.

• The Eccentrics! Teams solve their own creative global problems and prove that there's nothing wrong with being different. These eccentric characters are sure to give audiences a laugh as they solve a problem within an Earth System and go on to launch a new fad.

   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 the Discovery Channel for its creative programming and global reach. A representative will be there to accept the award and to show a special video about the company.

    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.

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. Visit our World Finals page and find teams from your town! Simply click "competition schedule" and enter your area.

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