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World Finals

World Finals is a creative exposition with more than 850 teams from all around the world presenting their innovative solutions. While only a few left leave with a trophy, everyone comes out a winner and gains valuable experience just by solving an Odyssey of the Mind problem and competing on the world stage. World Finals rotate from year to year between Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI and Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

More than 400 volunteers and officials and numerous campus staff members will be on site to provide teams the best possible experience. Teams should know that officials will be wearing red shirts with the World Finals logo on the front and the word “OFFICIAL” printed on the back. The University staff will be posted throughout campus to help give directions and answer questions.

To see a past year's WF information as an example, visit

Especially check out the FAQ page:

Qualifying for World Finals

Teams first compete at the regional or state level. Teams that place 1st, 2nd, or receive a Ranatra Fusca Award may be eligible to compete in the annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.


Most teams must fundraise to cover the cost of attending World Finals. Look at fundraising as a creative problem solving opportunity. Always check to see if your school administration needs to approve your fundraising activities. Here are some things that other teams have been successful in doing to raise the needed funds:

  • Sell ice cream or snacks in the lunchroom each day.
  • Sell bottled water or juice after school for students staying for an activity.
  • Present your team’s solution at a civic club and ask for donations from the organization.
  • Sponsor a spaghetti supper (have students throughout the school bring in ingredients), and for entertainment have the team perform its long-term solution.
  • Sponsor a “Hat Day.” For $1, students will be allowed to wear a hat all day at school.
  • Put a teacher in jail. Recruit several teachers who would be willing to be put in jail for a day (choose the most popular teachers). For a fee let the students vote on which teacher they would most like to put in jail. The teacher chosen will be placed in a cell (creatively made by the Odyssey of the Mind team) for the day and the students will be allowed to tease the teacher. With the cooperation of the principal, a substitute will cover that teacher’s classes.
  • For a fee team members can paint faces at the school’s field day.
  • Sponsor a school dance and/or school fashion show and sell concessions.
  • Design a team t-shirt and sell them. 
  • Sell candy bars.
  • Hold a pancake breakfast.
  • Have businesses donate items and then have a raffle. 
  • Have a McAListers night and a Pizza Hut night where a % of profits goes to the team.
  • Sell donut cards (Krispy Kreme)
  • Set up a booth at Walmart and Murfins one Saturday to sell raffle tickets, shirts and candy bars.
  • Hold a parents nights out and provide babysitting night at the school.  

Teams can also raise money in their neighborhoods: 

  • Get the word out in the community. Refer to the News Release and PR tips included in this packet. The more publicity you can get – newspaper, TV, radio, etc., the more people will support the team. Then if you have a fundraiser, such as a barbecue at a local Fire Station, people will be more likely to support it.
  • Write letters to local businesses asking for support. Use information about how Odyssey of the Mind fits into the corporate workplace to help businesses understand how they can benefit from sponsorship. If a team member or relative of a team member knows someone in the business, have that person sign the letter or write a personal letter to accompany the form letter.
  • Appear at local functions selling Blow Pops to “blow them away” at World Finals.
  • Sell hot dogs and soft drinks at a popular store on a Saturday.

Housing and Travel

Teams are responsible for organizing their own method of travel and shipping of their props. Odyssey of the Mind usually provides a location to which teams may ship and temporarily store their props. Teams with more than a two day drive often ship their props and fly, or one parent or coach will rent a trailer and truck and transport the props to competition.

Odyssey of the Mind offers housing packages for teams in the on-campus dorms. A dining hall is usually located near the team's housing location where meals are served. Regardless of whether a team stays in Odyssey of the Mind housing or organizes their own, the team must pay the World Finals registration fee to help cover the cost of renting the space, providing for judges and volunteers, and running other aspects of the competition.

Activities at World Finals

There are many fun activities to do at World Finals! There are three days of competition not including opening ceremonies day, so teams should have at least one day free. Coaches should balance any last minute practices and repairs with the pure enjoyment of everything World Finals has to offer.

  • Creativity festival: The Creativity Festival is a place for those attending World Finals to have fun when not competing. There will be many interesting interactive booths from associations across the U.S as well as a special booth created by NASA. While there, visit the Odyssey Angels booth and learn about Odyssey of the Mind's community service initiative. Also on display is the winning Odyssey Angels group and showing how it creatively helped its community. Check the Odyssey World Finals web site for other fun activities, updates, FAQs, and additional information.
  • Pin trading: Teams from all over the world come with pins representing their home state or country. Team members, coaches, officials, and volunteers all trade pins. This activity is a great way to meet new people, learn about different cultures, and develop friendship. Make sure to read and follow the pin trading guidelines.
  • Coaches competition: Every year coaches have the opportunity to compete against each other in a condensed version of a long term problem. Teams are encouraged to come watch and participate.
  • Float and banner parade: Teams and associations may compete with floats or banners representing their organization. The top 10 in each category will receive plaques.
  • Teams have the opportunity to have a buddy team. If you choose to apply and are accepted, American and international teams are paired together as buddy teams, forming friendships and sharing different cultures in their time at World Finals.

Many other activities exist throughout the week! Check the current Odyssey of the Mind World Finals website for a complete list, including activities unique to each campus. Pick up your copy of the OMer newspaper each day.

General Tips for Coaches

  • A Coaches Meeting is held in the afternoon on the day of the opening ceremonies. Information about the competition sites will be shared by the International Problem Captains and Head Judges. If there were any clarifications late in competition season, the head judge might review these clarifications. The meeting usually is on the longer side of an hour, but it's HIGHLY recommended that at least one coach attends (not any team members).
  • It is less expensive to stay in the dorms with the meal plan than try to stay off campus.
  • The Opening Ceremony Wednesday night and the Closing/Award Ceremony Saturday night are amazing! We require our teams to attend both.
  • Pin trading is a big deal. When the team is not performing or practicing, they will want to trade pins with other states and with teams from other countries. Most kids, coaches, and parents save and cherish pins from their WF experience. We recommend that each team member have at least one dozen pins to trade.
  • There are a very few grants available for housing from Creative Opportunities Unlimited (COU) in support of low-resource teams. Contact your state director immediately upon qualifying for World Finals for more information.

Past Competitions

Scores and information from past World Finals competitions can be viewed here.

world_finals.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/12 02:31 (external edit)