For the 10th year in a row, Magee Middle School students will put their creative problem-solving skills to the test in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.

The competition - which challenges students to solve open-ended problems and develop creative thinking skills - will be held next week at Michigan State University.

More than 20,000 students from 14 countries, including the United States, will participate. The students range from kindergartners to college age.

Four other Tucson-area schools will join Magee at the World Finals - Painted Sky Elementary, Rio Vista Elementary, Canyon del Oro High School and Sabino High School.

Magee, 8300 E. Speedway, is sending five teams of students to the competition - more than any other school in the state and a feat accomplished by just four other schools all over the globe. Each team is made up of as many as seven students.

The teams selected one of five competitive problems to solve throughout the school year. Some of the problems are technical in nature, while others are artistic or performance-oriented.

On Monday, 23 Magee students practiced for the final competition by holding a dress rehearsal where they presented their solutions.

The rehearsal was the culmination of endless hours of preparation after school hours that resulted in winning both regional and state competitions to qualify for World Finals.

This will be the third trip to World Finals for Magee eighth-grader Taylr Killian, who joined the Odyssey club out of a love for building things.

But the competition is about more than constructing structures and machinery. Teams are encouraged to present in an elaborate fashion, using skits to showcase their solutions.

"It gives me a chance to build things and meet people, but it's really more creativity and the thought process than anything," Killian said.

Killian's fellow eighth-grader, Megan Lynn, uses the club as an outlet to express herself.

"I think it's a great way to showcase my love for performing," Lynn said. "It's really fun."

Last year at World Finals, three of four Magee teams placed in the top 10. The school's best showing was in 2006, when a team placed third.

While the school is always looking to improve its performance, the experience is what's most important, said Magee Odyssey coach Marjorie Letson.

"The ability to creatively problem-solve is a skill that everyone must have in the world of work and in the global economy," Letson said.

Odyssey World Finals by the numbers


teams of students


international teams from 13 countries


U.S. states represented


winners will be named

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea