Once a team has selected its problem, early on in the brainstorming sessions, style should be considered. A good way to begin is to inventory the team members to determine what skills and talents each can offer the team. Perhaps one can dance, another might have a facility for writing poetry or a third can paint like Picasso! Why not utilize this talent pool to the team’s advantage?
Style comprises added elements that enhances the presentation of the solution, above what is specified in the problem. The Style portion of the competition gives teams an opportunity to showcase their talents and creative skills and to elaborate on their long-term problem solution. Each problem has its own required Style elements, as well as Free Choice Style categories that are determined by the team.
Each long-term problem lists five Style categories. Categories one through four are either specific scoring elements or “Free choice of team.” The fifth category is always “Overall effect of the four Style elements in the performance.” All Style categories are scored subjectively, and each is worth 1 to 10 points, for a maximum of 50 points.
Defining Style Categories
(1) Required Style categories: Usually each problem will include one or two required Style categories. These are categories that are scored in every team’s solution for that problem.
For example, if a specific Style category is “Costume of one team member,” it’s up to the team to decide which costume and which aspects of that costume are to be scored. One team may want a clown’s costume scored and another may want a cowboy costume to be scored.
(2) Free choice of team: For these categories, teams cannot select anything that is already being scored; however, they can list a different aspect of something already being scored.
For example, a vehicle scored for how well it functions may be selected to be scored for its appearance.
Free choice categories should be what the team feels to be the most creative aspects of its problem solution.
The team must be careful to list on its Style Form exactly what it wants scored. Following are some ways to list categories, using a clown as an example:
If the team would like the clown’s overall appearance to be scored — costume, makeup, hairstyle, etc. — it should state “Appearance of the clown.”
If a team would like a specific aspect of the clown scored, it might list on its Style Form, “Appearance of the clown’s costume,” or “Appearance of the clown’s makeup.”
If the team used items in a unique way to make the clown’s costume and would like this scored, it should state “Materials and technique used to make the clown’s costume.”
If the team states “The clown,” the judges will consider all aspects of the clown, including its performance, which could result in a lower score than having specific elements scored.
Some common “Free choice of team” categories include special effects, artwork, costumes, music, dance, poems, or the integration of a specific dramatic or humorous element. Anything may be selected by the team for free choice Style categories. Teams can choose to be judged on the creativity of a specific element in the problem, even though they are judged for overall creativity of the performance. For example, if a team reads a poem during its performance, and it is not specifically scored for creativity, it may select creativity of the poem as a free choice style category.
(3) Overall effect of the four Style elements in the performance: For this category, the team is scored on how well all of the Style elements come together to enhance the presentation of the long-term solution. The more integrated the four style elements are, and the more closely they are integrated into to the overall presentation, the better the score for overall effect.