ODYSSEY OF THE MIND COMPETITION
The Hon. PATRICIA FORSYTHE [11.9]: Tonight I wish to draw to the attention of the House an interesting and innovative creative problem-solving competition that has been piloted at a number of Hunter Valley and Central Coast schools. The competition, called "Odyssey of the Mind", is for students of all ages. Its purpose is to foster the development of creative thinking and creative problem-solving skills among young people. Participants compete in a variety of areas from building technical devices such as spring-driven cars to giving their own interpretation of famous poems. Through the program, students learn to work with others as a team. The competition aims to develop self-confidence by creating solutions, evaluating ideas and making final decisions among the team. The program began in the United States in 1978 and is run by a non-profit corporation in New Jersey. It operates in 46 of the States of America, and also in Canada, China, England, Germany, Hungry, Japan, Mexico, Poland and the former Soviet Union. More than 9,100 schools and an estimated one million students participate. This is the first year that any schools in Australia have been involved in the program.
I am advised that Australia became involved when Mrs Elaine Street, a teacher
at Belmont High School in Newcastle, attended the world finals. As a result of her participation, a number of schools in the Hunter Region then took part in an Odyssey of the Mind competition. Students from four schools have been selected to attend the world finals in Boulder, Colorado later this month. Two teams of students representing Merewether High School - one of the selective high schools created by this Government - and one team from Terrigal High School will be competing. Belmont High School was also invited to participate but regrettably, because of the costs involved, the school has decided not to attend. The teams take part in a variety of activities. One of the teams from Merewether High School is taking part in what is called the Hybrid Relay. The team has to design, build and run five small vehicles, each powered in a different way, including by electricity, batteries, mechanical energy, pneumatic air, a power source causing vibrations, and one by some other means chosen by the team.
Another team will take part in something from the classics called "Alice in Omerland". It involves music, poetry and creative drama. All of these ideals must be incorporated in a program designed by students. A limit is placed on the cost of materials used in the program. The students from Merewether High School will be taking part in each of those events. The students from participating schools will pay their own costs. Because of the opportunity for students to meet other students, and creative young people from all parts of the world in this positive and innovative program, I hope that at least some companies in the Hunter Region will assist by offering sponsorship. I hope the Minister and the department will take note of this program also with a view to positive involvement in future years. It is a pity that participation in such an international event is dependent upon a student's family's ability to pay. I am sure all honourable members join me in wishing those students well in the world finals in the United States.