It was a team problem-solving activity I gave my Scholar’s Club members today. They were randomly put in teams of 3-4 members, given a piece of large construction paper, 10 paper clips ( 5 big and 5 small), and a pair of scissors. I told them they could use a pencil if they wanted, but no other materials.
Their job was to build a tower. They were to assign jobs; examples: one person to cut, one to verify the cutting, one to place paper clips, one to be the cheerleader. The object was not to build the “best” tower of the club, but to work together to be productive in whatever tower they created.
This was truly a lesson in teamwork, and a good observation of human interaction– where it works and where it doesn’t. This is a constant struggle for us as human beings.
As I observed TEAM BLUE (their tower is above — kids inadvertently in the pic are not necessarily from this group), they did not have much cheer leading going on. They tried an easy version of a paper tower, but it was not stable. The two (who I considered) strong members of the group just kind of threw up their hands. So another girl took over, chopping up the construction paper until it didn’t make any sense.
This is an example of lethargy. When we are working in a team and we suddenly decide it is more trouble than it’s worth, what we produce is definitely not going to be something for the ages.
TEAM ORANGE. This was an interesting group. One girl was doing all the cutting, and I didn’t hear anyone talking about what should be done. One girl was cheer leading like crazy, and the other sat silently. She said she was going to do the paper clips. I called this creation the Sydney Opera House Tower.
This is an example of letting the “creative” one proceed without question, and then wondering what happened.
TEAM YELLOW: I call this one The Flying Tower. Team Yellow was comprised of the only boy who showed up at the meeting, along with 2 girls who are sisters. They worked quietly, and seemed to only have a vague idea of where they were heading.
This is a lesson in lack of communication.
Below is the entry from TEAM RED. By far the best of the lot, this team was very careful in how they proceeded. They talked everything through, and everyone had a job. This allowed for some extra creativity at the end. You see the confetti — this was the “grand opening” of their tower. They even had a little man standing out front.
Lesson here — communicate well, let everyone do their job, and celebrate with some extra creativity and pride at a job well done.
All in all, a fun hour with these middle-schoolers, and a great lesson in how our strengths and weaknesses as human beings play out in various situations.