Considering that it is an organization for those who are all about knowing, Mensa International is surprisingly not well known, even among BYU students.
Out of the dozens of students who were asked if they were familiar with Mensa, only a few were. Marc Phillips, a graduate student from Pine, Colo., studying information systems, was one of those few who was familiar with Mensa.
“When I think about Mensa I think of Stephen Hawking and kids wearing broad-rimmed glasses playing ‘Axis and Allies’ around a poker table,” Phillips said after being asked what he associates with Mensa.
But the Mensa organization is much more than that: Mensa International is an organization open to everyone, provided they can score within the top two percent on an accepted, standardized IQ test. Internationally, the organization’s membership exceeds 110,000 members, while the American chapter, American Mensa, comprises roughly one-half of the total membership, with more than 56,000 members. Mensa estimates, however, that nearly six million Americans qualify for membership.
To combat people’s ignorance about this national and international organization, American Mensa dedicated the month of October as Mind Challenge Month. By doing so, it hopes to not only gain recognition and increase its membership but also to promote its three-fold mission: to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research into the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence; and to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.
During the month, American Mensa will announce the Mensa Foundation’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year, provide daily tips to help exercise one’s brain and provide daily challenges, including crossword puzzles and riddles, to help people train their brain.
For example, the tip of the day on Oct. 8, titled “Get Lost for Good,” recommends using a labyrinth (i.e. maze) to help one relax and relieve stress. “Print out a finger labyrinth and trace it at least once each day,” suggests Mensa on its website. “The therapeutic properties positively affect brain wave activity and the neurological responses of some users, resulting in short-term increases in mental clarity.”
Based on independent research, Mensa believes that exercising the mind through these activities, as well as through learning a musical instrument and languages, will actually help people improve their cognitive abilities. Mensa sees this as a “worthy investment of time that will reap rewards for years to come,” according to a recent statement announcing the initiation of October as Mind Challenge Month.
Dr. Frank Lawlis, American Mensa’s supervisory psychologist, commented on the organization’s creation of the Mind Challenge Month, saying, “Cognitive well-being improves our lives, and it becomes even more crucial as we age. Our hope is by creating a month that focuses on our brain, while highlighting all that Mensa has to offer our communities, we can provide some resources and showcase a truly remarkable part of the human body.”
Along with daily tips and mind games, American Mensa will also host testing sessions across the nation with two-for-one pricing throughout the month of October.