Style can be a bit tricky to understand at first so let’s cover some basics. Each problem has two required elements. That does not mean that each team has to do it the exact same way—just that the elements are the same. For example, in the primary problem, Top Sea-cret Discoveries, the two required style elements are: 1) Creativity of the team’s membership sign 2) Creative use of a trash item in a costume worn by one of the Sea Explorer characters. 1) The sign for one team might be a fish with the team name and membership number on it, as it is a requirement to have these two identifiers on the sign (and to be read from 20 feet away). The team decides that the creativity of the sign is that it is a fish, and that fish is next to some other fish just like it, as it is part of the school of fish. 2) The creative use of the trash item is the old DVDs that are used on the Sea Explorer to make his suit jacket look like scales of a fish. (Though the Sea Character has to be portrayed as human for the problem, this character chooses to blend in with the fish by having his jacket be made from old fish scales…). If you were to state that you used an old suit jacket and slashed it with scissors to make it look like gills of a fish you likely would not score as high. Though the jacket may be ‘trash’, it was actually the cutting that made it creative, not the jacket itself. If you were to describe creative use of trash for a character other than the Sea Explorer the judges could not count it. If the team wants to use another character’s creative use of trash, this could be style element 3 or 4 which are up to each team to decide.


Number five is the overall effect of the four Style elements in the performance. An example of the first two in the above example might be: We chose the sign to be a part of our ‘school of fish’ so that it became a part of our set—the sea. We used the DVDs to make the suit jacket look like scales of the same type of fish, as this Sea Explorer wants to blend in with them as part of the humor of the skit.


Div II, Div III, Competitive—Let’s take this a step further by examining the two free choices for the team. This is where a team can really shine. If a team member can sing, perhaps a song can be the free choice. Or if the team can write some funny lyrics, it can be the words to the song. Careful here—these two can be very different. Is it the words to the song that add to the style, or is it the silliness of the ugly old bear breaking out into pitch-perfect singing? Or is it both—the bear singing a song that describes the situation at hand in the skit, and in perfect pitch.


Or a costume might be particularly creative. One year a team member took trash bags, made them into ’yarn’, and then crocheted them into a skirt. This is where it can get tricky in what you want the judges to score. 1) Do you want them to score the overall costume, 2) or the skirt, 3) or the way in which the skirt was made through both use of creative materials and the actual crocheting…ummm, I pick number 3!