Head start on creativity

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 July, 2010, 12:00am

Yumi Yu Mai-ying and her schoolmates were hit by a mysterious virus, but they still won the first prize in a creative competition in the United States.

A performance by seven students from Pok Oi Hospital Chan Kai Memorial College claimed the top honour at the 2010 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Michigan in May.

In the first act of the drama, they steal treasure from Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb and are hit by a deadly virus.

The second part is set in the year 3000 when humans no longer exist due to serious pollution on earth.

The judges were impressed by the students' adaptation of an ancient tale in a fun and creative way to raise awareness of environmental protection.

Participants had to come up with creative ideas to solve problems within a certain budget. More than 800 teams from around the world gathered at Michigan State University to battle it out in the world finals.

The challenges included designing and building a human-powered vehicle, creating model planes, doing a performance about the discovery of archaeological treasures, and staging a court drama in which the participants play food items.

The Pok Oi students beat 200 teams in the local round organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.

In the US, they went on to outshine 64 other teams in the 'classic question' category on the discovery of archaeological treasures.

The team spent weeks doing research on ancient Egypt - ploughing through books and browsing the internet.

They decided that the mystery surrounding Tutankhamen was ideal material for a drama.

'Pharaoh Tutankhamen is an interesting figure. He acceded to the throne as a young man, but also died young. Legend has it that his treasures were buried with him and anyone who stole them would eventually die of some mysterious disease, as if there was a curse,' says Yumi, a Form Three student at Pok Oi.

The second act of their drama revolves around three mutated bugs - the only survivors on the planet - searching for the last drop of clean water hidden in Singapore's landmark Merlion statue.

With a budget of HK$975, the team spent three months creating a tomb, a gold-painted Egyptian throne and futuristic outfits.

They used recycled materials such as polystyrene pads, plastic packaging, water bottles, irons and old batteries to make their props.

'The main theme of our drama was environmental protection. In the second part of the play, the mutants found the last drop of water.

'We wanted to show that we need to treasure our natural resources,' says third-former Destiny Lo Man-wai.