For immediate release…
Tuesday – June 6, 2013

By Lindsay Hardebeck
NKU Marketing and Communications Intern

- The Northern Kentucky University Odyssey of the Mind team has made a habit of thinking outside the box. What else would you expect from an international program that allows college students from around the world to come together to address creative problem-solving scenarios? This year, the NKU team took it to a whole new level, finishing as the only team out of 800 participants in the May 22-25 competition to finish in the top three in multiple long-term problems.

The team is comprised of senior chemistry/education major Kevin Beers, senior accounting major David Dyess, sophomore theatre/dance major Devin Habig and senior education major Courtney Wymer. It is the only Division IV team in Kentucky that competes at the world level.

The team finished second in a problem that required participants to create and present an original performance that includes a technical representation of messages being sent via email. The problem was won by an engineering school from Shanghai, China. It also finished in third place in a separate problem that required it to create and present an original humorous performance that included two characters that, in their own minds, act completely normal but appear odd to others. That problem was won by the University of Delaware.

But Odyssey of the Mind is not all just fun and games. The NKU team met daily to prepare vigorously for the international competition. “Every one of us enjoy the experience,” said Bob Russ, assistant professor of accountancy and coach of the NKU team. “There is a lot of work that led to our being at world finals, but it is all worth it.”

For more than 25 years, Odyssey of the Mind has helped teachers generate excitement in their students. By tapping into creativity, and through encouraging imaginative paths to problem-solving, students learn skills that will provide them with the ability to solve problems great and small for a lifetime. The Odyssey of the Mind teaches students how to think divergently by providing open-ended problems that appeal to a wide range of interests. Students learn how to identify challenges and to think creatively to solve those problems. They are free to express their ideas and suggestions without fear of criticism. While conventional thinking has an important place in a well-rounded education, students need to learn how to think creatively and productively.

Dr. Russ said Odyssey of the Mind not only encourages creativity within students, but also builds confidence. “I have talked with many high school students who credit Odyssey with helping them think creatively as well as pulling them out of their shells,” he said.

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