Big thanks to Josh Boitnott  spontaneous problem writer!!!!!


Verbal Spontaneous Problem: Monumental Changes


A. When the team members enter the room, tell them “This is a verbal problem.  You will have one minute to select the five team members who will compete.  The others may sit in these seats and watch (indicate the seats) or leave the room.  They may not assist in solving the problem and may not talk at any time.”


B. Judges read to team:


1.   You will be given 6 cards.  5 of the cards will be numbered from 1 to 5; the sixth card will have a question mark on it.  Each of the cards labeled 1 to 5 corresponds to a picture of the same number.  The card with the question mark can be used to respond to any picture and will receive double the normal score.  There is a box in the center of the table.  After your turn, you must discard the card corresponding to the number of the picture or the card with the question mark.  The next person can not give an answer until you have placed your card in the box.


2.   You will be given two minutes to think and discuss, you may trade your cards at anytime during these first two minutes.  Questions will count against your thinking and discussion time.  You will then be given three minutes to respond, only the person responding may talk during the response period.


3.   You will receive 1 point for common responses (cards #1-5), 5 points for creative responses (cards #1-5), 2 points for common response (question mark card), and 10 points for creative response (question mark card).  This will be a subjective opinion of the judge and the judge’s decision will be final.


4.   Your team will take turns in sequence.  You will respond going clockwise starting with the person sitting to the left of the judge reading the problem.  You may not repeat your turn.  You may respond to any of your cards that you have not discarded.  You do not have to respond in numerical or any other order.  The question mark can be used for response at any time.  You may use you question mark card to skip your turn if you are stuck; however, if you have already discarded your question mark card you may not skip your turn.  If you use the question mark card to skip your turn, you will receive no score.  If one member of the team is stuck, the entire team is stuck.


5.   Once time begins, it will not be stopped.  If a judge asks you to repeat or clarify your answer, it will count against your time.  Please speak loudly and clearly.  Your time will end when the buzzer stops or all the cards are in the cup.


C. Your problem is:


6.   You have been given the task to rename some famous monuments and tell why they should have the new name you’ve given.  For example card #1 is the Washington Monument  so you could say I would rename the Washington Monument “DC’s Lightning Rod” because it looks like a big lightning rod.


Repeat #5 & #6 noted in bold.


7.   “Begin.”


For Judges only:


When reading the problem, point to the person left of you to indicate person who will start.  You should gesture for the team to show the way the team will respond when reading that the team will respond going clockwise. 


Have five picture of monuments mounted of a piece of paper.  Make sure the numbers are written next to the monument.  Also mount a piece of paper of various colors to the back of each monument (for example, red paper on the Taj Mahal; green paper on the Eiffel Tower) and have that color correspond to same numbered card.  This will make things easier when seeing which number they are responding to.  Make sure there is space in the middle of the mounted pictures for the discard box.


Some examples of pictures of monuments are: Pyramids, Sphinx, Great Wall of China; Eiffel Tower, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Kremlin, White House, Taj Mahal, Coliseum, Big Ben, Statue of Liberty, etc.


Be sure to give exactly two minutes to think and three minutes to respond.  Timing is critical.  Students responding at the buzzer can finish and be scored.


A team member does not have to say the entire statement “ I would rename … because” as long as they make it clear the new name and why. 


The purpose of the cards is to limit the team’s number of responses.  Do not allow the next person to respond until the card is put into the box.  You can tell the team “The next person cannot respond until you discard”.  Do not allow the team to trade cards during the 3 minute response period.  Do not tell the team this unless they ask.


You should repeat the problem for each team.  The team may ask questions during their thinking and discussion time; however, this will count against their time.


Score as follows: 1 point for common responses (cards #1-5), 5 points for creative responses (cards #1-5), 2 points for common response (question mark card), and 10 points for creative response (question mark card).


Common Responses: Sphinx: Rename to Susie because it looks like my cat; Great Wall: Rename to Big Wall because it’s a big wall; Eiffel Tower: Rename to The French Jungle Gym because it’d be fun to use as a jungle gym


Creative Responses: Statue of Liberty: Rename to Green Lantern because she fights for truth and justice; Big Ben: Rename to My Alarm because I need something that big and loud to wake me up


ÓJosh Boitnott 2004