Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spaghetti and Marshmallow Challenge

We have used the beginning of the year in the enrichment classroom to collaborate on various group tasks.  One of the most popular tasks has been the Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge!  Students in grades 1 - 3 were placed into groups and then given the following constraints:

25 minutes
20 raw spaghetti sticks
one yard of string
one yard of masking tape
one large marshmallow (or 3)

Their task? To build the  tallest structure possible which would support a marshmallow.  

Students jumped right into the challenge--working together, revising, taking risks, learning and then making changes!  This task was based on a popular challenge that is used in schools as well as by businesses and various industries as a team building exercise. Here is a popular video that describes the learning that is happening during this intense collaboration:

I feel that not only did this exercise support the development of classroom collaboration, but it also gave us topics for some very important conversations as we start the year together.  It led to discussions on:

*the importance of hearing and listening to every voice in the group
*the idea that different people have different strengths (some are leaders, some are innovative, some do, some observe,etc) and that we can all learn from each other
*the concept that risk taking and learning from our mistakes will be valued (and required!) as part of our learning experience
 *questions like: is it OK to copy? how can we learn from what we observe in others to improve?

Building collaborative skills takes time, but these types of exercises are giving us some great foundational building blocks!

Here are some of the teams during the collaborative process:

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