Posted on


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

Return to Problem Categories | Return to previous page

Omer to the rescue


We have numerous comic book, comic strip, radio, and television heroes and heroines entertaining us while they accomplish fantastic feats and work for justice. Some', such as Wonder Woman and Superman, work alone while other heroes have partners or "sidekicks." Batman and Robin, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Robin Hood and Little John are a few who work together. This is your opportunity to perform heroic feats as you create your "OMER" and his or her "sidekick."

  1. The Problem

    Your team is to create a minimum of three live characters. These must be OMER, Sidekick, and a distressed person. Your solution to the problem is to be developed around this scenario: OMER and Sidekick are to stand in the Neighborhood (see Figure A). Each travels with a suitcase. They open their suitcases, one or both of which contains the parts to a vehicle. The vehicle will then be assembled. The person in distress may not assist in the vehicle's assembly. OMER and/or Sidekick will then leave the Neighborhood on the vehicle and proceed to relieve a person in distress, stop a crime, rescue a lost kitten, and do two good deeds of the team's choosing. The five tasks may be completed in any order. Then the vehicle will be disassembled and replaced in the suitcase(s). The person relieved from distress may assist in the disassembling of the vehicle.

    The Spirit of the Problem is to create a scenario that includes OMER, Sidekick, and a distressed person and to design and to construct a vehicle that will fit into one or two suitcases. The team is to assemble its vehicle, drive it, turn it, stop it, and perform the specified tasks, then disassemble the vehicle.

  2. Limitations (General limitations are listed in the Odyssey of the Mind Program Handbook.)
    1. The time limit for the competition, including set-up, Style, and performance, is ten minutes.
    2. Except for items exempt from cost in the Odyssey of the Mind Program Handbook, the cost limit is $75 (U.S.), including the cost of the vehicle and its propulsion system. The cost limit does not include new or used suitcases, or suitcases built by the team. Additional points will be given for less money spent. Under $60 = +5 points; under $45 = +10 points; under $30 = +15 points.
    3. The entire vehicle must be contained in one or two closed suticases. Each suitcase must have outside dimensions not exceeding 23" x 31" x 10" and may be made of any material.
    4. The vehicle must be totally enclosed in the suitcase(s) when the signal to begin is given. Then it must be assembled in the Neighborhood, complete the tasks, return to the Neighborhood, be disassembled and placed back into the suitcase(s).
    5. The suitcase(s) may be part of the vehicle. However, they must either be suitcases or resemble pieces of luggage. Some suitcases have built-in wheels. These wheels may not be used as the vehicle's wheels.
    6. OMER and/or Sidekick must ride in or on the vehicle and may not leave the vehicle except in the Neighborhood. If OMER or Sidekick touches the floor outside the Neighborhood, it is a penalty. OMER and Sidekick may return to the Neighborhood as often as they wish.
    7. Only one vehicle may be made. Only OMER and/or Sidekick and the kitten may ride the vehicle. OMER and Sidekick must complete the tasks.
    8. Division I participants have complete freedom in moving the vehicle. It may be pushed, pulled, or moved by any means.
    9. Division II participants may use any power source except moving the wheels directly by hand or pushing or pulling the vehicle by hand. Vehicles may not be connected to anything stationary except an electrical supply.
    10. Division III participants may not use human energy directly as a power source, e.g., pedal a bike, use ski poles, etc. Human energy may be used as a power source provided it is stored, e.g., pumping a jack, putting tension on a spring. Human energy may also be used to release and/or control an independent power source, e.g., electrical motor, battery, etc. Once the power source is released, no one may contribute to the vehicle's propulsion. The power source may be reset in the Neighborhood and in the Park.
    11. For all divisions, the vehicle braking and steering systems may be hand operated.
    12. Four team members, except the person in distress, may help assemble the vehicle. All five team members may help to disassemble the vehicle.
    13. The vehicle must be assembled and disassembled in the Neighborhood.
    14. The team's interpretation and configuration of the kitten and the nature of the distressed person's distress are of the team's choosing. The kitten may be portrayed by one of the five team members but no other live animals may be used.
    15. The distressed person and the kitten must be in position before their reliefs/rescues take place. Once in position, the distressed person and the kitten must remain in their areas until relieved or rescued. After the distressed person is relieved, he or she may leave the designated area and move anywhere. When the kitten is rescued, it must be kept on the vehicle and must be returned with OMER and/or Sidekick to the Neighborhood. This may be done at any time during the vehicle's run. The remaining two team members may move in or out of bounds without penalty.
    16. The floor contact points (usually wheels) of the vehicle must remain in bounds.
    17. All devices or apparatus (e.g., tongs, broom, etc.) used to perform the tasks must be contained in the suitcases at the start of the competition. This does not include stationary props.
    18. The devices or apparatus used to perform the tasks do not have to be returned to the Neighborhood, but until they are used they must be carried on or attached to the vehicle or carried by OMER and/or Sidekick.
    19. During the performance of the tasks, OMER's and Sidekick's body parts and devices used to perform the tasks may extend across the boundary lines without penalty, but the body parts may not touch the floor. 20. Before time begins, the team must present the judges with an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper (description sheet) containing a brief description of the crime, the two good deeds, the nature I of the distress, and the identification of the characters.
    20. A team member may portray only one character. OMER need not be the Odyssey of the Mind raccoon mascot.
    21. Tools for vehicle assembly do not have to be contained in the suitcase(s).
    22. The names OMER and Sidekick may be changed.

  3. The Competition
    1. The team, suitcases, and props, etc. will be in the staging area. When time begins it will be the team's responsibility to complete the tasks.
    2. OMER and Sidekick will go to the Neighborhood with their suitcases.
    3. The vehicle will be assembled in the Neighborhood.
    4. When the tasks are completed, the vehicle will be returned to the Neighborhood and will be disassembled.
    5. If time runs out, the team must stop.

  4. Scoring
    1. The creativity of the vehicle, 1 to 50 points
    2. The creativity of the characters and the scenario, 1 to 25 points
    3. The appearance of the vehicle, 1 to 15 points
    4. The creativity of the 1st good deed, 1 to 15 points (only scored if successfully completed)
    5. The creativity of the 2nd good deed, 1 to 15 points (only scored if successfully completed)
    6. The creativity of the distress and the relief of the distressed person, 1 to 15 points
    7. The creativity of OMER or Sidekick stopping a crime, 1 to 15 points
    8. The creativity of rescuing the lost kitten, 1 to 10 points
    9. Returning the kitten to the Neighborhood, 5 points
    10. Under the cost limit: lower cost = higher score Under $60, +5 points Under $40, +10 points, Under $30, +15 points
    11. The vehicle replaced into the suitcase(s), 20 points

    Maximum Possible: 200 points


    1. Any part(s) of the vehicle or task apparatus not inside the suitcase(s) at the start, -5 to -50 points
    2. OMER or Sidekick leaves the vehicle or touches the floor outside of the Neighborhood (each offense), -10 points
    3. Floor contact points of vehicle go out of bounds (each offense), -10 points
    4. Violation of the Spirit of the Problem (each offense), -5 to -100 points
    5. Outside assistance (each offense), -5 to -100 points
    6. Unsportsmanlike conduct (each offense) , -5 to -25 points
    7. Incorrect or missing membership sign , -1 to -15 points
    8. Division III power source reset while outside the Neighborhood or Park (each offense) , -15 points
    9. Each suitcase that exceeds any dimension by 1/2" or less, -25 points
    10. Each suitcase that exceeds any dimension by more than 1/2", -100 points
    11. Damage to floor or premises, -5 to -100 points
    12. Distressed person, before being relieved, assists in assembling the vehicle or comes in contact with the floor outside the distressed person's area, -25 points
    13. Any vehicular parts outside the neighborhood during assembly or disassembly (each offense -10 points), maximum = -20 points
    14. Kitten touches floor between Park and Neighborhood (each offense), -10 points
    15. Over cost limit , -5 to -50 points

  5. Style (Elaboration of the Problem Solution)
    1. The appearance of OMER, 1-10 points
    2. The appearance of Sidekick, 1-10 points
    3. Use of special effects, 1-10 points
    4. Free choice, 1-10 points
    5. Overall effect, 1-10 points

    Maximum Possible: 50 points