At a time when most students are thinking about getting out of school, ten-thousand young people from around the globe headed for Iowa State University this week. Ames is hosting the World Finals of Odyssey of the Mind, a competition that focuses on creative problem-solving. NASA backs the event and Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist for the space agency, says students from dozens of countries will take part.

Parkinson says there are several different competitions taking place in various categories and age ranges. Students prepare for months with a number of local, state, regional and national competitions leading up to this world finals matchup.

The contest opened at I-S-U today (Wednesday) and runs through Saturday. She says the teams have up to seven students and there are limits in terms of how much money they can spend, which is a small amount as the contest emphasizes the use of creativity.

The Odyssey competitions have been running for nearly 20 years and pose students with a problem to solve or some issue to brainstorm. In one event this year, Parkinson says students are working on skits called “The Jungle Bloke.” She says the bloke, or person, is going to try to convince others that he can talk with animals. Part of the performance will take place in an imaginary jungle and the bloke will apparently talk with animals about a problem in the jungle and he’s supposed to help them out.

Presentations have to include an original song and dance. For more information on the competition, surf to “”.

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Odyssey of the Mind info