Procedures for Spontaneous Problems

This post is an excerpt from the Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous Problem Guide. Download Spontaneous Problem Overview/Guide

1. All team members report to the Spontaneous Holding Room, if one is being used.

2. When the team is called, all team members may go to the Spontaneous Problem Room.

3.Upon entering the Spontaneous Problem Room, a judge will tell the team members whether the problem is verbal, hands-on, or a combination.

4.The team members will be given one minute to decide which five team members will participate. (If there are only five, then all must participate.)

5. The non-participating team members may stay in special seats set aside for them in the room. If they choose to stay, they must remain quiet and serve as observers only.

6. Any interference from the non-participating team members will be penalized as follows:

  • Minor Infraction = -5 points (from raw spontaneous score) This will be given for inadvertent interference that does little or nothing to actually help the team. (This penalty may be given more than once.)
  • Intermediate Infraction
  • = -15 points (from raw spontaneous score) This will be given one or more times for inadvertent interference that helps the team or one time for one instance of deliberate interference. If deliberate interference substantively helps the team or occurs more than once, a major penalty will be assessed in addition to this penalty.

  • Major Infraction = -35 points (from raw spontaneous score) or a spontaneous score of 0. (Cannot fall below 0.) This will be given for deliberate and repeated interference or for obvious help. (This penalty may be given more than once.)

These are all at the discretion of the judges.

If a coach does not choose to send all team members to spontaneous (either to the holding room or to the problem room), it is perfectly acceptable. There will be NO PENALTY for not sending more than five team members. However, if a team has only five or fewer team members, all must report.

1. To avoid congestion, only one adult may accompany the team members to the holding room.
2. If the turning cards’ procedure is used, the team member responding MAY NOT turn the card until he/she finishes responding. The judges will stop any team member who does so and make him/her repeat his/her answer. Repeated offenses may result in an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty.


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