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.
There are three types of problems: verbal, hands-on, and verbal hands-on/combination.
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.”
There are some strategies that will help teams as they solve the problem:
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!
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.
Below are videos of spontaneous problem sessions, along with problem introductions and debriefs.
Heads and Tails (hands-on)
Perpetual Motion (hands-on)
Up, Up, and Away (hands-on)
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!