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Please Note: These are not official Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous problems but are supplied here as training tools for improving teams' spontaneous skills. Official practice problems can be found if you purchase the books of spontaneous problems and sample problems can also be found on the Odyssey of Mind website.

Current Hands-on challenge:


Tower of Power

Your challenge is to build a structure as tall as possible on the table

Set Up

Give each team the following materials:

5 pipe cleaners

6 rubber bands

2 unsharpened pencils (Mark with a yellow label)

1” cube of clay

3 6” long pieces of foil

20 wooden toothpicks

2 small adhesive mailing labels

1 sock

2 4-6 oz. cups

2 paper plates


You will have 8 minutes to solve the problem. The judge will warn you when 2 minutes and when 1 minute remains.


You are allowed to ask the judges questions and talk to each other at any time.


There are materials to use to create your solution (point to materials). Nothing else may be used and you are not allowed to damage anything marked with a yellow label.

Your problem is to build a structure as tall as possible on the table.

Your structure must rest on the table without anyone touching it when checking for score.


You may ask to be scored at any time. Competition is over when you ask to be scored or when time ends.

For Judges Only:

Place a table against a wall for the team to build its structure. Team members may lean the structure against the wall; however, do not reveal this unless a team asks.

Use a measuring tape to measure from the table to the highest part of the structure. If the structure falls while measuring, do your best to score it as it was when the team finished.


You will be scored as follows:

You will receive 1 point for each inch of your structure’s height.

You will receive 1 to 10 points for the creativity of your solution.

You will receive 1 to 10 points for how well you work together.


Were team member tasks and responsibilities sorted out clearly?

When scoring how well the team works together, consider the extent that all team members are involved, if they value one another’s input, etc.

When scoring creativity of the team’s solution, consider strategy, experimentation, and how they use the materials.

Was time used effectively?

Could the structure lean against the wall?

What would the team do differently if they did it again?

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