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The OM Spontaneous Archive

Welcome to the OM Spontaneous Archive! The circuit above will tell you where you are and what's new. A blinking light above indicates that there are new problems since your last visit. Come back to this page often and check for new problems.

About the Archive

This archive is a collection of original problems similar to Odyssey of the Mind spontaneous problems, as well as actual past spontaneous problems. They are largely submitted by OM coaches and team members, and many were written by Lee Semel, the archive maintainer. These may or may not be like the problems you'll actually get in competition. For instance, in my problems, I often award extra points for creative, humorous, or insightful answers, but so far insight has not appeared as a scoring item in any OM problem. Also, this archive offers many 'Name things that' problems, which, although offering excellent opportunities to practice the brainstorming process, are biased towards verbal ability and speed, and are being phased out. Be prepared for anything.

You will also want to look at OM problem books such as OMermania and Problems to Challenge Creativity. These contain actual past problems, exactly as they were given to judges and teams. Order forms are available in the OM newsletter, or call directly at (609) 881-1771.

What is a Spontaneous Problem?

On competition day, teams are scored three ways: on their solution to a long-term problem on which they have spent many months working (0-200 points), on Style, the elaboration of the long-term solution (0-50 points), and on their solution to a problem given to them on the spot, a Spontaneous problem (0-100 points).

Some require hands-on work and others require verbal responses. All demand teamwork and quick thinking. To keep teams from knowing the problem beforehand, no spectators, coaches, or parents are allowed in the spontaneous room.

Our archive contains examples of past spontaneous problems as well as original problems with which teams can practice.

About Spontaneous Practice

Spontaneous problems demand that teams think creatively on the spot, without a great deal of time to ponder. Practicing spontaneous problems teaches the team basic methods they can use to come up with divergent solutions to a problem. These brainstorming skills can be used not only on competition day, but in many problem-solving situations that require divergent solutions. Experience with these skills is required in order to effectively solve these problems during competition.

More importantly, spontaneous can be lots of fun!

Types of Spontaneous Problems

Verbal problems, in which teams must respond using words. Verbal problems have a typical set of rules.

Non-verbal problems, in which teams either must give answers using a communication system other than language, or must solve a problem that does not require language as part of the solution (i.e. building structures or vehicles).

Verbal-manipulative problems, which combine the features of both verbal and non-verbal. Teams often must use and respond to various objects. Typical problems include creating a story using various objects or creating a sales pitch for some object.

Drills help teams learn to brainstorm for ideas and think quickly.

OM publishes problems from actual competitions. Call them for more info. Created by Lee and Matthew Semel