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NASA Inspires Students to Center the Earth With Eccentrics
05.23.07
 
Students from all over the world will gather to participate in the Odyssey of the Mind's 29th World Finals, a creative problem-solving competition, at the University of Maryland, College Park, Md., May 31 through June 3. These students have advanced from competitions held earlier in the year at the local, regional, state or country levels and will now compete for the Odyssey's top awards.

NASA's Earth Observing System Project Science Office provided a grant to develop one of the long-term problems for this year's competitions. In the problem, "The Eccentrics," teams create and present a humorous performance about three eccentric characters that demonstrate odd behavior, peculiar mannerisms, and unconventional dress. The performance will include a team-created "problem" within or involving an Earth system — the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, or hydrosphere. The eccentric characters, which seem to be misfits, will solve the problem. As a reward, a celebration is held in their honor and they end up launching a new fad.

NASA will also host activities at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. In addition to exhibits featuring NASA's Earth Observing System Project Science Office and Hubble Space Telescope, NASA and the University of North Dakota will showcase NASA’s aircraft program.

One of NASA's featured activities includes the Earth Science E-Theatre. It is a dynamic theater-style presentation that presents Earth observations and visualizations in high-definition format. The spectacular visualizations presented in the context on global climate change are derived from data acquired using NASA Earth science satellites. In addition, animations of satellite launch deployments and orbital mapping to highlight aspects of Earth observations from space are also presented.

Odyssey of the Mind is a natural partnership with NASA, whose Earth Science missions and research efforts seek to understand how the Earth is changing and the consequences for life and societies," according to Dr. Steven Platnick, Earth Observing System Senior Project Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “Imagination, creativity, and team work are the essential elements of NASA's success. Odyssey of the Mind challenges student involvement in these areas as teams seek to understand scientific principles and explore solutions through sound engineering. NASA's goal of developing a deeper understanding and awareness of Earth system processes and the impact of human activity is enabled by teaching the world’s students to think 'outside the box' so as to one day help solve complex environmental problems."

Over the past year, NASA has supported Odyssey's preliminary competitions by posting Earth science information on a special web site. Web links were provided to assist students in developing solutions to problems facing the Earth.

A section of NASA's Earth Observatory website serves as a portal to many teacher and student learning modules. They include: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change; Investigating the Climate System with NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (including rain, wind, clouds, energy and weather); Exploring the Environment (a coral reef lesson); Teachearth.com, resources for teachers; and "Virtual Vacationland." Virtual Vacationland" is a resource tool for locating and using Earth Science data and information on the Internet.

NASA expects to reach nearly two million students, parents, teachers, and coaches around the world through its sponsorship of Odyssey of the Mind problems, stimulating interest and learning about Earth system science among all ages.

The Odyssey of the Mind program, founded in 1978, is an international educational program that promotes team effort and creative problem-solving for students from kindergarten through college. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and other countries participate in the program, including Canada, China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

Related Links:

> More information and images
> Odyssey of the Mind
> NASA’s Odyssey of the Mind “The Eccentrics" challenge

 
 
Amy Pruett
Goddard Space Flight Center