This is a general description of the type of problems available. Each year problems are published with specific description and limitations. Synopses for 2018 problems can be found here.
Did you know that the problems are also published in Spanish? This would be very useful for ESL students or parents/coaches who would prefer to read it in their native language.
Problem 1 - Mechanical/Vehicle
Teams design, build and operate vehicles of various size and with various power sources. Sometimes they drive the vehicles, and sometimes the vehicles perform tasks, such as overcoming obstacles or visiting other "countries" to retrieve artifacts.
Problem 2 - Technical Performance
Teams make innovative contraptions and incorporate artistic elements into their solutions. They might be asked to write an original musical score to play on a "new" type of instrument, or to build a robot with human characteristics, or to perform tasks using a chain reaction of snapping mousetraps.
Problem 3 - Classics
The theme of this problem is based on the classical -- from literature to architecture to art. Whether it's writing an additional chapter to Moby Dick or bringing paintings to life, it's always a terrific learning experience.
Problem 4 - Structure
Teams design and build structures, using only balsa wood and glue. They test them by supporting and holding as much weight as possible -- sometimes more than a thousand pounds! Teams usually present a skit as part of the Style presentation.
Problem 5 - Performance
In this problem, teams present performances that revolve around a specific theme and incorporate required elements. Past themes include "morphing" objects, animals that express human emotions, and originating folktales.