Spontaneous Problems

The Spontaneous ("Spont") problems are the part of the competition that encourage quick, off-the-top-of-your-head thinking. Spontaneous problems fall into three categories:

Verbal problems involve responses to a question, statement, or picture; team members' responses are graded on wittiness and creativity. Usually, team members have one minute to think of responses and then two minutes to give the responses. The order of responses is usually random, being controlled by a deck of randomly sorted cards or some such device.

Verbal hands-on problems are similar to verbal problems, but they usually involve manipulating a physical object in some way. This may include using an object as a prop, or taking clay or aluminum foil and making characters, which then participate in a story made up by the team members.

Hands-on problems rely almost entirely on the manipulation of physical objects; these problems usually take longer than verbal problems, and team members may sometimes only be able to communicate non-verbally.

Although an Odyssey team can consist of up to seven members, only five can participate in the Spontaneous problem. Team members that do not participate must either leave the competition room or stay in the room without communicating with the rest of the team in any way. The team members usually decide in advance who will participate in the different types of Spont problems; after the judge announces which of the three types a team will be given, the other teammates will leave or stay as the case may be.