SF Bay Odyssey of the Mind

Experiencing Creativity

Experiencing Creativity

Experiencing Creativity Experiencing Creativity

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 Spontaneous is that part of the competition where team members really get to shine and share their creative thinking skills.  When solving spontaneous problems, team members get to “think on their feet” and quickly “think outside of the box.” During the tournament season these problems  are “TOP SECRET” and only the team members that enter the room get to know the spontaneous problem.   This is important as other teams may get the same problem and it would provide them an unfair advantage during the tournament season.

Teams participating in the same long-term problem and division will solve the same spontaneous problem, so, to ensure fairness, it is critical that no one discusses the problem outside of the room until all teams have competed at both the local regional tournament and other regions.

There are three types of spontaneous problem, and the teams are informed as they enter the room, the type of problem they are asked to solve.  One of the judges read the specific rules for the problem. as well as outlining the scoring method. 

Teams will have to solve only one type of spontaneous problem in a competition. So teams should be prepared for any of the three types of spontaneous problems. Teams should practice for the three common types of spontaneous problems as listed below. 

  • Verbal spontaneous problems require verbal responses. They may incorporate improvisation or dramatization. Teams are scored for common and creative responses.
  • Hands-on spontaneous problems require teams to physically create a tangible solution. Each hands-on problem has its own specific scoring categories.
  • Verbal/hands-on spontaneous problems require teams to create a tangible solution and include some type of verbal component, for example, creating a story about the solution. Teams are scored for both the tangible solution and the verbal presentation.

Although all seven team members may enter the room, only five team members may participate in the spontaneous portion of the competition. Every team should assess the skills of its members and come to an agreement beforehand about who will compete and who will sit out.

What should teams practice?

For spontaneous, be sure to practice, practice, and practice. Here are some tips from Odyssey of the Mind for practicing spontaneous:

  • Teach team members to listen. They should not “think ahead” and presume what the problem requires; they should listen carefully until the judge finishes reading the entire problem.
  • Brainstorm verbal responses. Ask the students what made them respond the way they did, then develop that skill further.
  • Improvise non-traditional uses for various items.
  • Familiarize team members with various materials and their uses.
  • Practice building structures out of common materials such as toothpicks, paper cups

(Taken from Problems from Creative Interaction, by Dr. C. Samuel Micklus & Samuel W. Micklus.

Practice Problems

Below is a link to a set of Pratice Problem in all three Spontaneous categories

Spontania Mania- January 25th

On the last weekend of January, we conduct a day where teams can hone their spontaneous skills.   We run 4 sessions throughout the day.   The team selects a problems and then brings supplies enough for 11 teams to perform the problem.  

There is no scoring per se, although the teams can receive feedback from the team who is conducting the problem.

We post signups in the December and a registration fee is required to offset the cost of the rental of the site.

Spontaneous Resources

 Here you will find several resources that may help prepare a team for spontaneous.

California Spontaneous Video


Here you will find several resources that may help prepare a team for spontaneous. Odyssey of the Mind – National website  This is the national website for the Odyssey of the Mind program.

Spontaneous Problems Archived from Virginia

Archived Spontaneous Problems from the VA Odyssey of the Mind website.

Spontaneous Problems Galore     Northeast Pennsylvania’s Spontaneous Problems

Georgia Spontaneous Site     Spontaneous problems from Georgia

Arizona Archive Spontaneous Site  Archived spontaneous problems from the Arizona Odyssey of the Mind.

Tennessee’s Spontaneous Site Spontaneous problems from Tennessee 

Pinterest Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous Problems  This is a Pinterest site where several ideas come together.