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The following problems are for practice only. To view the synopses of the official 2023 - 2024 Odyssey of the Mind problems, click here!

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Moby Dick

Herman Melville's Moby Dick is a gift to the literary world. At the conclusion of the work, Moby Dick sinks the whaling ship, the Pequod, and all hands are lost except one, Ishmael. Ishmael says in the epi- logue, "And only I am escaped alone to tell thee." He is saved by a floating coffin made for his friend, Queequeg. He was afloat on the coffin-like buoy until rescued by Captain Gardiner of another whaling ship, the Rachel. The Rachel was searching for some of her missing crew when she found Ishmael.
  1. The Problem
    The team's problem is to create Chapter 136, "On the Rachel," which will take place in Captain Gardiner's stateroom. Here, Ishmael will be discussing part of the story of Moby Dick with the captain and may include some of his officers and/or crew. As this meeting is taking place slides will be projected onto a screen, illustrating the discussion. During the meeting Captain Gardiner will give Ishmael a box found from the sunken Pequod. Ishmael will open the box and display several of its artistic contents. These will include a sculpture of a whale, a drawing/painting of a whaling scene, and an article of scrimshaw.

    Thus, the Spirit of the Problem is to artistically present (1) color slides illustrating a "flashback" being discussed, (2) a whale sculpture, (3) a drawing/painting, and (4) a piece of scrimshaw. In addi- tion, the team is to create the script, a playbill, and any special background or props it may need to solve the problem.

  2. Limitations
    1. The time limit for setup, Style, and the performance is 8 minutes.
    2. Materials used to solve this problem cannot exceed a $75 (U.S.) value, less the cost of slides.
    3. The team is to present 20-80 35mm slides. These may be color, black and white, or a combination of both. The team must take the slides from pictures, models, live or mounted whales, and/or art- work or scenes created by the team. The team has complete freedom in choosing subject matter for the slides; however, purchased or commercial slides are not allowed. Adults may show the team how to use cameras, lenses, and other photographic equipment without penalty.
    4. The whale sculpture may be of any material; however, it may not be made from a whale "kit" or any commercial model of a whale. The size of the whale, including the base on which it is mounted, is to be between 15 and 36 inches long. The sculpture must be done only by team members.
    5. The drawing/painting of the whaling scene may be oil, acrylic, watercolor, pen and ink, pen, ink and wash, silk-screen, relief print, etching or mixed media. There is no size limitation and any number of colors is allowed. The drawing/painting must be done only by team members.
    6. The scrimshaw is to be etched in "ivory" and filled with black/colored ink. The "ivory" may be genuine ivory (if available), artificial whale's tooth, artificial ivory, billiard cue ball, or any ani- mal bone either cut or whole. The scrimshaw must be done by the team members.
    7. You must use the original names of characters from the book.
    8. A written playbill synopsis must be given to the judge prior to the performance. This must be hand-printed and limited to one side of three 81/2" x 11" (or equivalent) pages.
    9. Chapter 136 may include parts of the original book and may include more than one episode. Ishmael and Captain Gardiner may not leave the stage; however, other team members may enter, exit or be included in the Captain's stateroom. Any individual may speak or act.
    10. The presentation may be serious or humorous, with the facts of the book intact or altered.

  3. Site, Setup and the Competition
    1. A stage or floor area a minimum of 7' x 10' will be used, but a larger area is desirable.
    2. An electrical outlet will be available stage side. Teams should bring their own extension cords.
    3. A screen or sheet, or light-colored wall, will be provided for projecting slides. This may be changed or moved by the team. The team does not have to use this screen/sheet and may provide its own.
    4. Two chairs and a table, which may be placed anywhere, will be provided for the set. Teams may use additional chairs, panels, backdrops, etc. They do not have to use the provided chairs and table.
    5. A carousel projector will be provided; however, teams should bring their own slides in a carousel tray and may bring their own system. The projector may be placed anywhere.
    6. The competition site should be in a room where the lights can be dimmed. The room may be darkened to a point where the artwork may be difficult to see. The team may bring a lamp or light to help illuminate the artwork during the performance.

  4. Scoring
    1. The whale sculpture, 1 to 25 points
    2. The scrimshaw, 1 to 25 points
    3. The drawing/painting, 1 to 25 points
    4. Effectiveness of the slide presentation, 1 to 25 points
    5. Quality of the performance, 1 to 25 points
    6. Visual creativity of the scene (background, props, etc.), 1 to 25 points
    7. Artistic quality of the playbill synopsis, 1 to 25 points
    8. The creativity of Chapter 136, 1 to 25 oints

      Maximum possible: 200 points


    1. Spirit of the Problem violation, -1 to -100 points
    2. Unsportsmanlike conduct, -5 to -100 points
    3. Outside assistance (each offense), -5 to -100 points
    4. Over cost limit, -5 to -100 points
    5. Over time limit: -5 points for every 10 seconds or fraction thereof over time limit (example: 27 seconds over = -15 points)
    6. Use of commercially purchased slides (each offense), -5 points
    7. Use of less than 20 or more than 80 slides , -15 points

  5. Style (Elaboration of the problem solution.)
    1. Appearance of Ahab, 1 to 10 points
    2. (Free choice of team), 1 to 10 points
    3. (Free choice of team), 1 to 10 points
    4. (Free choice of team), 1 to 10 points
    5. Overall effect, 1 to 10 points

      Maximum possible: 50 points