Long-term Procedures

The long-term problem solutions are presented as skits of no more than eight minutes. During these skits, some team members will generally be "backstage" controlling the technical aspects of the skit, while others will be acting. The Long Term presentations take 3-5 months to produce.

There is a "cost" limit on the value of all materials used in the presentation of the long-term solution, other than "exempt" materials. This limit is typically US$125–150; the team members must submit a list of all non-exempt materials, which the judges check to make sure that the team is within the cost limit. Exempt materials include computers, most audio-visual equipment (projectors, radios, televisions, music players, etc.), batteries and power cords, footwear, musical instruments, and tables and chairs.

Each year, six problems are released. They correspond to six general categories:

1. The vehicle problem focuses on the design and construction of a vehicle used to solve a designated problem, with a lesser emphasis on the performance accompanying the solution. The problems alternate between team-driven vehicles sized to carry a person and independent self-propelled vehicles. The vehicle problem for 2006-07 is called "Tag 'em" and will involve one or more small vehicles making trips through a designated course and being labeled ("tagged") using some remote mechanism.

2. The technical problem is mainly focused on a technical solution involving building machinery, and like the vehicle problem places secondary emphasis on the performance. The technical problem for 2006-07 is called "The Large and Small of It" and is focused on a story-book that incorporates visual special effects, along with three large-scale pages from the book. Previous technical problems have included robot building, sound production and others.

3. The Classics... problem involves a performance tied to some area or aspect of human achievement or culture (art, literature, music, etc.). The problems typically focus on the performance itself, without substantial technical requirements. They have included in the past topics from Shakespeare interpretation to art analysis, great human achievements, and other "Classical" themes. The problem for 2006-07 focuses on travel and geography.

4. The structure (or balsa) problem involves building a structure out of 1/8 inch balsa wood and glue. The task is always to make the structure hold as much weight as possible; each year, there is a different requirement as to how the structure must be built. There is little emphasis on acting and on the script in this problem. The 2006-07 problem requires that the structure be able (by disassembly or some other means) to fit inside a box smaller than the finished size of the structure.

5. The performance problem is heavily focused on acting and on the script, with the major challenges involving the incorporation of required elements in the performance. Past problems have covered topics such as idioms and animation. The 2006-07 problem requires a humorous performance including a self-centered character who repeatedly takes advantage of others.

6. The primary problem is designed for younger participants in grades K-2, and contains simple requirements for a problem that can easily challenge the youngest minds. Teams who solve this problem do not officially compete and are not scored.

There is a lot of overlap in these categories; acting problems can make use of technical solutions, and technical problems can emphasize their skits. Many aspects of scoring emphasize creativity and ingenuity rather than technical or acting skill; in addition, special awards are sometimes given to teams whose solutions may not be successful, but which demonstrate exemplary "out-of-the-box" thinking.

Style is a component of long-term where teams are judged on specific elements of their skit. There are five elements; two are specified in the problem, there are two "free choice of team" elements, and the fifth is a score of how well the other elements contribute to the performance. The pre-specified elements are related to the problem in some way; they are typically something to do with the appearance of a vehicle or costume, however in the Balsa Wood problem, the structure may not count as a style element. The style points account for a significant part of the overall score, depending on the nature of the problem.