Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Marshmallow Challenge

First seen on TED (talks on riveting ideas: technology, entertainment, and design), my administration from my last school brought in this wonderful team building exercise called, "The Marshmallow Challenge." It was such a great way to begin the conversation of collaboration, communication, different roles that different people have, and so forth that I thought, "This is such a great way for students to be involved in this conversation that prepares them for teamwork and collaboration!"

The materials that each team of four received were: 20 spaghetti sticks, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. Each team only had 18 minutes to build the tallest freestanding structure with a few simple rules: the entire marshmallow must be on top of the structure, the structure can be made up of as many or as few of the materials provided, the spaghetti sticks, string, and tape can be broken/cut, and the structure had to be freestanding at the end of the 18 minutes.
Was I really looking for the tallest freestanding structure? Of course not. I actually think that most teams both times (I did it at the beginning of the year in August and then once again in January) were unable to have a structure remain standing at the end of time. The main question I had in mind for discussion was, "How do we ensure quality collaboration takes place to accomplish our goals as a team?" When students were asked this, most of them were able to share out the key points I wanted to emphasize!

I can't remember which team won and what the measurements of their structure, but if you click on the link above to watch the video, you'll find a surprising group that always beats the average! What group do you think would do well in a challenge like this? How would you do with a group of friends? Coworkers? What other topics of conversation would you suggest I bring up next time?

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