News & Notes

March, named for Mars by the Romans who highly valued their military might, breathes life back into the world. It’s the month when we observe the vernal equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere and when we begin to see the leaves start to bud. Also, it’s sort of like a renewed quest for culture here in the heart of America where we’ve learned that MAM’s CultureQuest® team (2020) placed 13th and well within the top 20 of all other teams. Congratulations!

Ad Astra Mensa via Zoom

Ad Astra Mensa (Topeka, Lawrence, and environs) met virtually via Zoom on February 8th. Topics discussed included Covid-19, availability of vaccines, effectiveness of vaccines, prevention and curing, Super Bowl, halftime show, history and evolution of computers, cookies, toolmaking function of humans and animals, education, tendency of different people to see things differently, language, weather, QAnon, cults and conspiracies, politics, ghost hunting, and other matters, some controversial, some not.

If you are interested in discussing these or other topics, please join Ad Astra Mensa when we meet again virtually via Zoom on Monday, March 8 at 7:00 pm.

Mensa Foundation Scholarship Judges Needed for Region 7

Regional Judges are needed for the 2020–2021 Mensa Education and Research Foundation Scholarship Essay Contest in Region 7. Judging involves reading essays submitted by scholarship applicants and scoring them for points to determine the winners. Regional judging will be conducted online over email and will take place between February 23, 2021 and March 30, 2021.

We are looking for people who have not been judges for any of the local groups in Region 7 for the 2020–2021 competition. Judges may judge at either the local or regional level but may not do both in the same region.

Spring Salon

We’re experimenting with another new twist on an old favorite. The old favorite is a Salon where everyone gets together to share their thoughts and ideas on a particular subject. The first new twist was to add a time-keeper to keep the conversation flowing and on its toes. The next generation twist is to take it virtual instead of in person.

MAMs have never been known to be boring and this is the place to show it. Send along your ideas and time and date preferences. We’ll see how many people we can accommodate.

It’s Membership Renewal Time!

It’s Membership Renewal Time!

Its time.  The 2020-2021 Membership year is coming to an end, and the 2021-2022 year will begin on April 1.  Be sure to renew your American Mensa membership by March 31, 2021 to ensure you don’t lapse.

2020 was a tough year to deliver on the Mensa promise – in-person fellowship of other smart people at local, regional, and national events was curtailed due to pandemic social gathering restrictions.  The good news is that clubs across the country – including Mid America Mensa – are finally hitting their stride offering programming and social events online.  But the events are only a part of the benefit of being a member.  You get emails and publications by Mensa highlighting cool advancements across science, technology, the arts and humanities.  Your dues help pay for scholarships for students to pursue their continuing education – both at the local and national levels.  Your dues also help Mensa Foundation publish the Mensa Research Journal which highlights scholarly articles and research related to intelligence from a variety of nationally and internationally esteemed authors.  You also get bragging rights.  But even if you aren’t the bragging type, just carrying the card is cool – knowing you are among the top 2% of the world in intelligence.

MAM Leadership Updates

Member Feedback Wanted to Make Mensa Better

MAM members: Have you taken the Member Satisfaction Survey? Members have a chance to share their responses which is important feedback that could shape improvements in program, events, benefits, and the overall member experience. By participating in the annual American Mensa Membership Satisfaction Survey, we can help other Mensa members get the most from their membership. This survey is thorough and should take roughly 15 minutes to complete.

Now Accepting Submissions for the Summer Issue of YM2

The summer issue of Young Mensan Magazine will shine the spotlight on young Mensans making a difference in their communities. Don’t miss the chance to shine a bright light on how you are impacting the world. The summer issue is waiting for your passion projects, motivating missions, and dedicated driving forces! Please submit your story no later than March 1.

CultureQuest® XXXII Contest Rules are Available for Notice

Due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak, CultureQuest XXXII will take place virtually this year. Teams may choose whether to gather in person or virtually to complete the quiz based on each team’s local, state, and national safety guidelines. Teams may consist of up to five primary players and up to two alternates. Team members need not be from the same local group, but any prize money awarded will be paid to the Team Captain’s local group. The entry fee is $50 per U.S. team and $55 (U.S.) per Canadian team – payable at the time of registration.

CultureQuest XXXII Deadlines

March 31: Entry fee and complete team roster must be received
April 16: Last day to Add/Drop team members
May 2: CultureQuest XXXII!
May 17: Corrected tests and scores sent to Team Captains
May 31: Challenges must be received
June 7: Challenge rulings returned to teams
July 20: Winners announced in Mensa Wired newsletter

Nominations for National Awards Wanted

American Mensa needs volunteers; and volunteers need recognition and appreciation for their contributions. Please send nomination of members you feel are deserving of a national award to the National Awards Committee. Your nomination submission should describe in detail the reasons the member is especially deserving of a national award. The National Awards Committee reviews nominations only for service benefiting Mensa beyond the individual’s local group. Nominations close at the end of April.

World Gathering 2021

World Gathering 2021

Join American Mensa during August 24th – 29th for the 2021 Mensa World Gathering (Multifaceted Minds) which will be a celebration of cultural and intellectual experiences from around the globe — and it’s Mensa’s 75th Anniversary! You can connect with friends – both old and new ones – during these six days of talks, meetups, and special events. The 2021 World Gathering is to be held in Houston, TX, at the Hilton Americas-Houston instead of the Annual Gathering of American Mensa this year. This will be one for the books!

American Mensa was thrilled to announce recently that award-winning actor, accomplished director, and passionate advocate for children’s literacy LeVar Burton will join us as our Mensa World Gathering 2021 Gala Dinner speaker. You maybe grew up watching him as Kunta Kinte in Roots, as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, or as himself for more than two decades on Reading Rainbow. Certainly, LeVar Burton has taken on many roles during his career and now he’ll soon star as our Gala Dinner speaker!

A Colloquium (Advances in Food Science) will be held the day before the 2021 World Gathering. Join us as we explore ongoing developments within our food supply, including gene-edited crops, plant-based proteins, nutritional breakthroughs, and agriculture’s escalating biological arms race. Our list of speakers includes: Dr. Alfredo Fontanini, Neurobiology and Behavior department chair at Stony Brook University; Dr. Haley Oliver, associate professor of Food Science at Purdue University; Dr. Steve Savage, an agriculture consultant, speaker, writer, and podcaster; and Dr. LaPorchia Collins, a professor of practice in the Department of Economics at Tulane University.

In addition, an International Board of Directors meeting will be held from August 22nd – 25th.

Sources of information for this article include:

2021 World Gathering

American Mensa News, Mensa Weekly Brainwave: September 29, 2020.
Personal Email — World Gathering Early-bird Rate Ends Jan. 31: January 22, 2021.

News & Notes

If you’re looking for love in February, then you’re in the right place. Mid-America Mensa (MAM) members love having good food, health, and interesting conversations with other MAM members as well as other people in general. Among all of the new and interesting things happening around Mid-America Mensa in February are a review of (and look ahead to) the Ad Astra Mensa meeting via Zoom; plus, Ethnic Eats and more about this year’s Mensa Foundation scholarship essay contest are featured.

On January 11th, Ad Astra Mensa (Topeka, Lawrence, and environs) met virtually via Zoom. Topics of discussion included the assault on the U.S. Capitol, the news media, the meaning of truth, the importance of seeing other people’s points of view, whether there is an objective reality, walking a mile in the other person’s moccasins, the Covid-19 pandemic and how people are coping with it, use of face masks and face shields, the manipulation and reliability of data, family, and the holidays. Long-time Topeka Mensan Dr. Irving Cohen announced forthcoming publication of his latest book, Fighting Covid-19: The Unequal Opportunity Killer. Advance orders of the book are being handled through a GoFundMe campaign with a copy mailed as soon as available (3-4 weeks) for a $20 donation. That URL is: Ad Astra Mensa will meet again virtually via Zoom on Monday, February 8th at 7:00 pm.

Also, in January, MAM members zoomed in to celebrate the New Year and winter season with a span of soups circling the globe; for example: a Thai basil soup from Whole Foods, Vietnam Cafe’s Pho Do Bien, a gumbo from Southern Kitchen, and a farm-style tomato soup partnered with grilled cheese sandwiches cut in more or less mathematically accurate triangles. Because February and Valentine’s Day go together, we’ll think of Valentine-style dishes from the various ethnic cultures we enjoy. Ethnic Eats will meet again next via Zoom on Saturday, February 13th at 1:00 pm. MAM members: Look for the details for this event in the February Mension.

Finally, in February, our scholarship judges will be busily scoring every applicant’s 550-word goal statement. Judging involves reading essays submitted by scholarship applicants and scoring them with points to determine the winners. For those who may be participating in this Mensa activity, remember: “It’s not just about rhetoric, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The judges look for evidence of capability, determination, and that all-important grit that scholars will need in tough times.” (RVC7 Rich Olcott) Judges may judge at either the local or regional level but may not do both in the same region. Good luck to all!

News & Notes

As the last hours and minutes of 2020 arrive and leave us for the new year of 2021, hopefully we are all looking ahead to a new year full of marked improvements. In a 2020 hindsight, it seems as if any change in the current state of affairs will be an improvement for most of us across Mid-America Mensa (MAM) as well as for our friends around the globe. Will the promise and hope of a vaccine for resisting the novel coronavirus and fighting symptoms of COVID-19 sustain us through early 2021 and beyond? Many of us think so, I imagine. What else is there that could possibly happen in and around MAM and the world to make our human lives better and not worse?


In January, let’s have a bit of an adventure; the theme will be soup and the challenge will be for each of us to choose one variety from whichever world region that inspires us. It doesn’t have to be homemade. It can be takeout from a local restaurant or procured by any other (legal) means. MAM members, check out your copy of the January 2021 Mension for all of the related, ‘sip and slurp’ Zoom meeting details.


If you or one of yours is looking forward to starting a course of post-secondary education, January is the deadline for Mensa scholarship applications <> and the start of the essay judging process. Because of the efforts of the Scholarship Chairs and all the Local Group and Regional judges who carefully score all those 550-word essays, and also for the contributions of our generous donors, American Mensa will once again ease education funding for more than 150 deserving winners.

In addition, MAM’s Local Group scholarship judging for the coming year will be conducted solely online. Luckily, last year we got some experience with the new and improved Mensa scholarship online judging process. Our whiz-bang scholarship national officers and staff took in all of our suggestions for improvement, and we’re looking forward to a smoother, more enjoyable process this year.


At this time, Mid-America Mensa has suspended in-person testing by our MAM volunteers, so we’re happy to see a new option available to those who are interested. The Private Testing program is a supplement to the Local Group testing program. We hope to resume our Local Group testing sometime in 2021, but until then, prospective new Mensa members should check out the Private Testing option.