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Problem 4

Picture a 15-gram (½ ounce) structure made of balsa wood holding and balancing a stack of weights while getting hit, twisted, or even broken apart. Each year a new problem requires an original structure to withstand a new test of strength as it holds weight until it breaks. It’s not uncommon for experienced teams to hold over 1,000 pounds. OMers create and present performances ranging from comical to extravagant where testing their structures is part of the action.

2023-24 Structure Problem

Deep Space Structure

The universe is full of mysteries we hope to discover and some we may not want to discover! In this problem, teams unravel an original mystery by portraying a balsa wood structure discovered in deep space. The structure will be examined, tested, interviewed, and observed. The performance will include an actual balsa wood and glue structure that is tested to balance and support weight, a character portraying the discovered deep space structure, and the scientists studying it.

Past Structure Problems

In this problem, teams will have audiences wondering, “Where’s the structure?” Teams will design and build a structure made of only balsa wood and glue that balances and holds as much weight as possible. It will have three parts and each part will be hidden in plain sight. During the performance the team will reveal each part and assemble them into a final structure for testing. The performance will also include a poem about searching for something special.

It’s always the more the merrier with nesting dolls, also known as Matryoshka! In this problem, teams will design and build a Matryoshka Structure made of only balsa wood and glue that holds as much weight as possible. The 8+” structure will hold additional structures nested one inside the other. The more structures that are nested, the higher the score! Before weight placement can begin, the nested
structures will be removed one-by-one to reveal a tiny character nested inside the smallest structure. The performance will have a theme about storage that includes placing weights, the structures, and the
tiny character.

Oh no, it’s a trap! Or is it? In this problem, teams will design and build a structure made of only balsa wood and glue, if desired, that holds as much weight as possible after it is used to trap a moving object. However, an oblivious character will unwittingly avoid traps it does not recognize in a humorous performance. The performance will also include a narrator character that alerts the audience to the action and the traps.

Teams will build balsa wood structures that are created by adjusting its interconnected parts. When the parts are not in the final form for weight testing, they must be able to pass under a limbo bar. Higher score will be awarded for how low the bar is when the structure passes under it. However, the bar is not allowed to be lower than ½”! The limbo bar test and maneuvering the structure for testing will take place during the performance time. Testing of the structure will take place during a performance with a theme about dancing and movement.

Step right up and put your structure to the test! Teams must strategize risk for points and “toss” their structures in this year’s problem-turned-carnival. They will use a device to propel the structure in a carnival game. If it travels in the air it gets higher score! Once the structure has been successfully tossed, it can be tested for strength. A carnival barker character will entice other characters to join the fun during a performance that incorporates testing the structure’s strength with creative games of skill and chance.

Over the years, Odyssey of the Mind teams have designed structures that changed into many unbelievable shapes and sizes that balanced and held as much weight as possible. This year, teams will turn their balsa wood structures into animals! Since animals need to eat, they must be fed. The structure will have its appearance transformed and explained during an original performance. During the performance, the structure must hold the team-created food while it supports weights.

Creativity can be defined by using only what you have to get a job done. In this problem, teams will design, build, and test a structure made of only balsa wood and glue that will balance and support as much weight as possible. The structure must include sets of balsa pieces of predetermined sizes and quantities as listed in the problem. Some sets must be parts of the structure while others, if incorporated, will receive additional score – the more sets of pieces used, the higher the score! Teams will present a performance with a theme about using what’s available and that incorporates weight-placement and assembling original team creations.

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