FAQs for the Balsa Structure Problem
No. The cost limit for the balsa problem is $145 (U.S.). This means that the combined value of the materials used during the presentation of the team’s solution, including Style, must not exceed this amount. You might want to review the Odyssey of the Mind Program Guide (a link to it is available on the Resources page) and the problem statement for further information about cost limit and items that are exempt from cost.
No. Balsa can be purchased from any site. The team members alone must decide which pieces of balsa to use when they construct their structure. Copies of the receipts will need to be given to the weigh-in judges at the tournament. It is important that the wood meets the requirements noted in the problem section E.9.b.
Oversized Wood: any piece exceeds 1/8”x1/8” (.135” x .135”) at its cross section (not assessed if it is an irregularity of that piece and the rest is within limitations) will receive a “weight-held” score of zero.
The team should refer to the problem statement and Program Guide (a link to it is available on the Resources page) for the restrictions on legal balsa wood. For other questions, the teams can submit their questions for clarifications on the Odyssey of the Mind website.
Is it okay to tell the teams that the international Odyssey of the Mind organization sells balsa wood?
Yes, that is allowed.
If the team wants to have their own tester, someone associated with the team will have to make one. The design details are provided in the problem statement. There are additional instructions posted on the Balsa Teams page on our website. Anyone can build the tester, and there is no outside assistance penalty for having a non-team member make the tester.
The Balsa Problem Captains in Northern Virginia hold one or two information sessions each year for teams and, at that time, permit teams to test a structure on the Regional Tournament tester. No team may borrow a regional tester, but any team may test their structures at such an information session. Check the regional website for announcements of these sessions.