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Spontaneous Problem Procedures
eams should report to the spontaneous holding room 10 minutes before their scheduled competition time. If there is no holding room, teams report to the competition site 10 minutes before their scheduled time and wait quietly for further instruction. Only one coach may accompany the team into the holding room.

    One team member will register the team, giving its long-term problem and division, and the team membership name and number. Team members will wait in the holding room until a judge calls them to compete. A judge will then accompany the team members to the spontaneous problem room. The coach will remain in a designated area and wait for the team to return.

    All team members are allowed to enter the spontaneous room. A judge will give the type of problem the team must solve: verbal, hands-on, or verbal/hands-on. The team members will then have one minute to decide among themselves which five members will compete. The non-participating members may remain and watch or they may choose to leave the room. If they remain, they must not talk, signal, or intervene in any way. If a non-participating team member interferes in any way, that team member will be asked to leave the room while the team's time continues.

    If a team has five or fewer members at a competition, all of the members must enter the spontaneous room and all must participate in solving the problem.

    Team members should listen carefully to the judge's directions, as every spontaneous problem is different and specific rules for each individual problem may apply.

    A judge places a copy of the problem in full view of the participating team members and reads the problem aloud. The team may refer to its copy of the problem as necessary. Once the judge finishes reading the problem, he or she will say, “Begin,” and time starts. The team members may ask the judges questions, but time will continue. In some instances, judges may tell the team that they cannot answer their specific question and may refer the team to the problem. Judges will try to clarify the problem if necessary to ensure that the team members understand what the problem requires; however, judges will not give information that aids in solving the problem. In verbal and/or verbal/hands-on problems the judges will use the following language:

  • If a team member speaks too fast or mumbles and the judges cannot understand, the judges will say, “UNCLEAR. Please say it again.”
  • If a response does not make sense to the judges or is not acceptable, they will say, “INAPPROPRIATE. Please clarify or give another response.”
  • If a response is a repeat of what another team member said, the judges will say, “DUPLICATE. Please give another response.”

    Once the team has competed it will be directed to leave the room quietly and meet the coach at the designated area. Team members must not discuss their spontaneous problem with anyone until after the competition, because all teams in the same long-term problem and division must solve the same spontaneous problem.

    Spontaneous problems are not subject to the grievance process; however, if a team has a concern, one team member should ask to speak to the Spontaneous Problem Captain, who will then speak with the judges and the entire team, if necessary.
~ Joy Kurtz
International Spontaneous Problem Captain

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