East Lansing, M.I. – Over 20,000 students and supporters from around the world will travel to Michigan for the 38th annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals from May 24-27 at Michigan State University. Students from different cultures and widely varying economic backgrounds will prove that creativity is universal by coming together for this event. They will demonstrate their 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 MSU, 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 competing from throughout the United States and in 13 other countries including Canada, China, South Korea, India, Japan, Russia, Poland, Germany, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Italy, and Mexico.

Although this is a competition to become 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 833 teams participating that were considered the best of the best.

They will come with interesting costumes, original stage designs, and innovative inventions — all part of solving an Odyssey problem.

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.

This year’s choice of problems include:

  • Catch Me If You Can: Teams create a James Bond-esqe solution by building escape vehicles and writing intriguing plots. Teams run vehicles from a multi-level Parking Garage to a secret meeting place without being stopped. During their Odyssey, the vehicles will do something that prevents them from being followed. The performance will include a simulation of a scene taking place inside a vehicle and a soundtrack.
  • Odd-a-Bot: For this problem, teams will create a humorous story about a family that brings home an “Odd-a-Bot.” Instead of being programmed to perform tasks, this Odd-a-Bot robot learns from watching others. Teams will design, build, and operate an original robot that demonstrates human characteristics when performing tasks. The Odd-a-Bot learns more than it was expected to learn, and will confuse its actions with humorous results.
  • . . It’s Time, OMER: The future and the past collide in this problem about important works of art. Teams will present an original performance about time travelers looking to discover the inspiration for great works of art. They travel through time and witness OMER, the OotM mascot, inspire two classical artists and a team-created artist. The performance will include how the three works of art positively impact the world, an effect that indicates when time travel is occurring, two re-creations of the classic works of art, and a team-created work of art.
  • Ready, Set, Balsa, Build: Eighteen grams of balsa wood and glue are designed into structures that have been known to hold thousands of pounds. This year teams stack weights on the balsa structure made of odd-sized sets of wood. The more sets, the higher the risk – and the reward!
  • To Be Continued: A Superhero Cliffhanger: Creativity is being taken away from the world, and it is up to Odyssey teams to rescue it! Teams will present a humorous performance about an unexpected superhero that must save creativity. The superhero will change appearance when it displays its superpowers and go back to blending in with society when not. The performance will also include a clumsy sidekick, a nemesis character, a choreographed battle, and a cliffhanger ending.

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 and open to the public.

The competition will conclude with an Awards Ceremony, where over 18,000 people will gather to see the World Champions of Creativity announced.

Like most kids, Odyssey of the Mind team members will exceed expectations when given the opportunity to express themselves. OotM Found Dr. Sam Micklus says, “Odyssey of the Mind students have the best minds in the world.”

       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 team page and find teams from your town!

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