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The following problems are for practice only. To view the synopses of the official 2022 - 2023 Odyssey of the Mind problems, click here!

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Be Patient

(This problem is adapted from Make Learning Fun, by Dr.C. Samuel Micklus.)

This activity may be done with any number of students. However we suggest you divide the class into groups of 5-7 students and have a contest to see which group comes up with the greatest number of creative responses. You may wish to designate a timekeeper, so you can concentrate on the quality of the responses.


  1. Read the problem to the team.
  2. Give the team one minute to think, then begin the 2-minute response time. (Increase response time accordingly for groups larger than seven members).
  3. Mark each response as either common or creative (do not allow repeats or very similar responses).
  4. Call "time" at the end of 2 minutes, allowing any student responding at this time to finish.
  5. Total the score, awarding 1 point for each common response and 5 points for each creative response.

The Problem:

  1. You have 1 minute to think and 2 minutes to respond. You may ask questions during your thinking time, but time will continue. You may not talk to each other at any time.
  2. You will receive 1 point for each common response and 5 points for each creative or humorous response.
  3. You will take turns responding. You may not skip your turn or repeat a response. If one person cannot think of a response, response time will end.
  4. Your problem is to pretend you are a patient in an operating room and you hear noises and conversation. Say what you would like to hear or what you would not like to hear. You must begin each response with "I would like to hear . . ." or "I would not like to hear . . . ."
Judging the Responses:

Examples of common responses:
I would like to hear . . .I would not like to hear . . .
Everything will be O.K.
This operation is routine.
You will be just fine.
The doctor is good.
You'll be able to walk, see, eat, etc. again.
You have a 50/50 chance.
His/her blood count is low -- be careful.
Some people come through this O.K.
Try not to worry.
This is going to hurt.
Examples of creative responses:
I would like to hear . . .I would not like to hear . . .
We're lucky we have two kidneys.
Your doctor's other patient is President Clinton.
He/she doesn't even know he/she won the lottery.
The stone passed -- we don't have to operate.
Your insurance will cover everything.
The transplant organ is lost in the mail.
My cat wouldn't eat this liver.
What happened to the sponge?
You forget to pay your insurance bill.