Arecord number of teams have entered this year's Odyssey of the Mind Programme (OMP). The programme has drawn 83 teams from 65 schools and youth centres. Odyssey of the Mind is an educational programme that fosters creative thinking and problem-solving skills among students through a series of challenging activities. The programme began in the United States in 1978. OMP was introduced to Hong Kong in 1995 by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and the Education Department. Participants in groups of five to seven had to find solutions to problems posed based on creativity, instead of rote learning. After two days of competitions at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, five teams won the opportunity to enter the contest in the US. They are: Marymount Secondary School, Queen Elizabeth School, Ho Fung College, Pui Ching Middle School and Creative Primary School. Sixth former Chan Ho-yin, 17, and his six team members from Queen Elizabeth School, were very excited to be one of the winners. They decided to take part in OMP because it was challenging. Teams had to create a humorous performance that must include 10 different sound effects. Two team-created devices had to produce six of the sound effects and the balance in any other way. The difficult part was that a team member had to make a de vice to produce a sound effect indirectly by initiating a process. And the sound effect devices were assessed for their engineering abilities. The team discussed their script vigorously and finally produced a socially relevant story to match the sound effect requirement: a man jumping to death under the pressure that the society brought on him and the story of a beggar who was actually a cheat. Ho-yin said: 'Our project won mainly because we had spent a lot of time on it. We never forgot to be creative on the design and presentation of our project.' The seven-member team from Marymount Secondary School comprised all sixth formers from the science stream. Clara Wong Kar-wing, 18, and Christina Chan Sye-min, 17, were two of them. They said that initially they thought it was impossible to build such a complicated vehicle that travels on wheels and was capable of performing different tasks. 'We were told that the design was at university level. We knew little about mechanical engineering because we just started our semester when we worked on the project on our own,' Kar- wing said. They looked up textbooks and references for the principles of producing such a vehicle. They not only finished making their winning vehicle, but also learned a lot from the experience, she said. All seven of them were also pleased to have worked with each other. They had different abilities and approaches to the task at hand. Sye-min said she learned to work with the other classmates.