Its now weeks but not months to the regional tournament and by this time I’m thinking every team is putting the finishing touches on their solutions. OK maybe not. They will get there however so hang in there, take plenty of pictures and reread the Rules of the Road.

As a regional and affiliate Instant Challenge Master, IC is near and dear to my heart and so I’ll pass on some of my thoughts on IC teamwork. First is to remind TMs that the best way to get good at IC is to practice ICs. All different kinds. We do not tailor the IC type we give at the tournament to the Team Challenge one way or the other. The only guarantee is that every team at the same level (elem, middle, secondary) doing the same Challenge gets the same IC in front of the same Appraiser team.

Every IC has teamwork as a scored element. The Travel Guide for Teams has the rubric that the Appraisers are given on how to score teamwork. A lot of TMs try to force roles on the team and that will work, I guess, so long as the team members are truly OK with them. My experience was that the best situation is where any team member can find them self leading depending on the IC. While not likely to happen with a first year team, it is a goal to shoot for.

The biggest problem new and especially younger teams have is simply not following the directions. The team gets a copy of the Challenge to refer to during the solution time. A good job for someone who feels that ICs are too fast and hectic is the “lawyer” who rereads the Challenge and makes sure the team’s solution is, in fact, solving that Challenge.

Timekeeper is another role. The timekeeper’s job is to keep the team current on the time left. Teams may not use timekeeping devices so the timekeeper must ask the appraiser for, “how much time?” The appraiser will not (unless the challenge says to) give the team any time warnings.

Now if you’ve read this far you get my Secret Teamwork Tip or STT. It is my suspicion that many if not most Appraisers mistake enthusiasm for teamwork. Teams that have genuine enthusiasm generally get good teamwork scores. There is perhaps good reason for this since teams with good teamwork have more fun with an IC than teams with bad teamwork regardless of the success or failure of their solution.

I used to tell my team’s that they couldn’t control what kind of Challenge they’d get, what materials they’d get (if any) or how much time they’d get to solve a Challenge. The one thing they could control was how well they work together as a team.