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Spontaneous is an important element of Odyssey of the Mind that must not be forgotten. Teams should practice spontaneous at every meeting.

No one is allowed to watch spontaneous on competition day. All 7 team members may enter the room, but only 5 will solve the problem. The remaining team members will remain in the room as observers only.

Scoring will vary according to the problem, (high score for the day could be 50 or 500), but the maximum scaled score will be 100 points, which accounts for approximately 1/3 of the total possible points (long_term + style + spontaneous). Separate judges score the spontaneous portion of the tournament.

Types of Spontaneous Problems

There are three types of problems: verbal, hands-on, and verbal hands-on/combination.

  • Verbal: This will be a problem read to the team and asking them to think of answers to a question, such as “name things that have a base.” They will brainstorm (usually silently) for one or two minutes and then the team must give responses. Score will be based on whether the answers are common (“A lamp has a base”) or creative (“Rules are the basis of good behavior”). Some method will be given for determining in which order the team members give answers (they might go consecutively around a table, or they might flip cards, for example.)
  • Hands-on: This will be a problem read to the team, and then, usually, given to them in hard copy to look at while they work on a solution. They will be asked to do something with a set of given materials. They might be given some period of time to plan the solution and then some period of time to work. Or they might just be given one period of time to solve the problem. Hands-on problems might ask them to build something, create a picture of some kind, get objects into a target area, arrange elements in a certain order and so forth. The team may or may not be allowed to talk during any part of the solution time.
  • Verbal/Hands-on Combination: This will be a problem, usually with two parts, that is read to the team one part at a time. In Part 1, they may be asked to make or build something. In Part 2, they may be asked to give verbal responses about what they have made or use the item(s) in a skit.

In January 2015 this clarification was released detailing a new version of the verbal problem:

“We have added a new procedure in SOME types of verbal problems. In these problems, team members will be given paper and pencils and are allowed to brainstorm during think time. They are allowed to write down the responses that they will use during response time. They may write as many as they wish and are not limited to those responses when it is their time to respond. During response time they will be able to refer to their own lists, so that they may choose the responses they think are the MOST creative or give a new response. Each team member will also have a set of cards with two values on them (for example one card may say 2/4; another 3/6)…. When they give a response they will decide if their response is creative and will hold up a card. The judges will then score that response using the lower number if they think the response is common, and the higher number if they think it is a creative response. A card may only be used once. As a result, teams can impact their score by predicting the creativity of their responses. The more creative responses should have higher numbers and questionable responses should have lower numbers.”

Spontaneous Advice

There are some strategies that will help teams as they solve the problem:

  • Never argue with the judges. While team members may ask questions, they must always respect the judges' decisions.
  • Have the team choose a “problem reader”. While the whole team should read and listen to the problem, the reader spends extra time understanding the rules and scoring, especially for a hands-on problem.
  • “If the problem doesn't say you can't do it, assume you can”. Be creative in your solution, but questions are allowed.
  • Have each person be an “expert” in a different area, such as movies, sports, art, etc. so that they think of many different answers
  • Practice a variety of spontaneous problems. Teams won't know what type of spontaneous they will get on competition day so it's best to practice all three kinds often.

Practicing Spontaneous

Teams should practice at least one spontaneous problem at every meeting. Teams should always discuss what went well and what could they could have done differently. THERE IS NO OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE IN SPONTANEOUS. Coaches may give direct feedback on the team's performance. Parents are encouraged to help their children practice spontaneous at home. The dinner table is a great time to work on verbal problems!

Spontaneous Resources

Practicing spontaneous is the best way to improve. Luckily, thousands of spontaneous problems have already been written and are easily accessible. Here is a database of almost 200 spontaneous problem files organized by problem type.

Below are websites which also host several hundred spontaneous problems.

Northwest PA Odyssey of the Mind

Example Spontaneous Videos

Below are videos of spontaneous problem sessions, along with problem introductions and debriefs.

Heads and Tails (hands-on)

Buckets (hands-on)

Perpetual Motion (hands-on)

Up, Up, and Away (hands-on)

Spontaneous on Competition Day

  1. All team members and one adult report to the Spontaneous Holding Room if one is being used.
  2. When the team is called, ONLY team members may go to the Spontaneous Problem Room.
  3. Upon entering the Spontaneous Room, a judge will tell the team the type of problem.
  4. The team members will be given one minute to decide which five team members will participate.
  5. The non-participating team members may stay in special seats set aside for them in the room.
  6. All team members should be certain they are not wearing a watch or other item that could beep. Teams may keep track of the time, but not have a stopwatch or timer or a watch with an alarm set.
  7. The five team members participating will be given two written copies of the problem in order to be able to read along as a judge reads the problem. Any interference from the non-participation team members will be penalized by removal of the nonparticipating team members.

It is extremely important that teams and coaches understand that on tournament day, a team should not discuss the problem they were given until the end of the competition day, not even to tell the coach the type of problem they had. And after competition, no one may discuss the problems outside their own homes until after all competitions end for that Odyssey year!

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