Problem Synopsis

We do not teach OMers how to solve a Problem, we teach them how to be Problem Solvers! Each year, we release six original Long Term Problems – five competitive problems for students from kindergarten through college and one primary problem for K-2nd graders. There are two types of “problems” in Odyssey of the Mind:
Long-Term Problems and Spontaneous Problems.


Long-Term Problems is the first step of problem solving in Odyssey of the Mind. Teams select their problem when they register the program and spend weeks or months to create and develop their solution. Each team member will find a role to play in the many stages of problem-solving including brainstorming, artwork, set design, technical design, writing sketches and much more! The solutions are presented in a live performance. Everyone learns to think Beyond the Box. Long Term problems are different every year but they fall into general categories: Mechanical/Vehicle: Teams design, build, and operate vehicles of various sizes and with various power sources to solve certain tasks.

Technical: Teams are challenged to design and build innovative contraptios and incorporate artistic elements in their solutions.

Classics: Each year the creative challenge of this problem requires a solution that incorporates some element of the classical taken from either literature, architecture or art.

Structure: Teams design and build a structure using balsa wood and glue. They test it to determine how much weight it can support sometimes more than thousand pounds!

Performance: In this problem teams present performances that revolve around a specific theme and incorporate several required elements.

Part II - Spontaneous problem

All teams compete in one of three forms of on-the-spot Competition. Spontaneous problems can be Verbal, Hands-on, or verbal-hands-on.


Style is the elaboration of the Long-term problem solution. This category provides teams with the opportunity to showcase their skills and to incorporate their interests into their solutions.

Style can be art, music, dance, humor, engineering, costuming, creative writing, creative use of materials, and on and on.

View Problem Synopsis of the Year
2018   |   2017   |   2016   |   2015   |   2014