The Odyssey of the Mind Creativity Festival kicked off Thursday afternoon at Lied Recreation Athletic Center and will continue on Friday and Saturday.
The event offers creative challenges, games and crafts, but most participants also use the festival as an opportunity to trade enamel pins with fellow competitors.
The turf field at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center is being used as a pin trading ground throughout the Creativity Festival. Competitors can lay their pins out, often attached to an official Odyssey of the Mind Pin Towel, and wait for offers, or they can go look at others’ collections to find the pin they are looking for.
Pin trading is a popular tradition for Odyssey of the Mind competitors. It has become so popular, that the organization has released a page of Pin Trading Rules in order to keep trading fun and fair for all competitors.
Gabi Amaral, a 14-year-old student from Arkansas who is in her third year of competition, spoke about her team.
“We’re really into it," Amaral said. "If we didn’t have to do the competitions, we would probably just do this the whole time.”
According to Jessica Rhule, a 13-year-old competitor from Pennsylvania, different pins are popular each year.
“This year it’s the white peacock," Rhule said. "Everybody’s trying to get a white peacock.”
Along with trying to collect their favorite individual pins, competitors also try to collect them in sets. Rhule has a collection of colorful Starbucks pins. Today at the festival, 15-year-old Brynna Moslander completed her collection of tropical bird pins.
Competitors often begin their collection by receiving pins as part of a school or state set. However, there are other ways to develop pin collections. Bennett Nielsen, an 11-year-old from Milford, Pennsylvania, started his collection with two pins he received from a student in his father’s classroom, who previously competed in Odyssey of the Mind.
The Creativity Festival has several booths set up on the west end of Lied Recreation Athletic Center, including face painting, an interactive NASA booth and a chance to participate in building the world’s longest plastic bag chain.
Several games can also be found on this end of the recreation center, such as giant Jenga, Maine Coon Catapults and Operation Dueling Dragons. There is also a booth where competitors have a chance to write thank you notes for their judges.
On the east end of the recreation center, a stage has been set up for the various performances throughout the festival, including a hypnotist and a magician.
The Creativity Festival will also be open on Friday and Saturday, and the event is free and open to the public. More information about this event, as well as other things to do this week at Iowa State, is available at the Odyssey of the Mind’s website.