This year I decided to dedicate a considerable amount of time to team building efforts. We start team building at our second meeting and ran through today.
Build a Burger
In this team building exercise, each student has part of a hamburger (printed on paper) taped to their back. They do not know what they have on their back. Some students have a top bun, some a bottom bun, some a beef patty, some are lettuce, some are tomato, one lone students is pickles, and some other are cheese. The purpose of the exercise is to line-up so that you are in order from top to bottom to build a hamburger.
The desired outcome of the exercise is that a leader emerges from the group to take charge of the situation.
Engineering Notebook Conundrum
In this team building exercise, the students are introduced to a Google Doc which consists of a cover sheet for the team engineering notebook and a second blank page. The doc has been shared with all students they are all instructed to login, go to the second page, and enter their names. All students have editing rights. A completely chaotic environment emerges as students are typing over others and someone will accidentally or purposely delete some or all of the document.
The desired outcome of the exercise is similar to Build a Burger. It forces a leader to emerge from the group to take control of the situation.
In this team building exercise, students have been stranded across a chain of small islands in the middle of the ocean.
As luck would have it, on the first island, which only has 1 students on it, there is a lifeboat. The lifeboat is two wooden pallets stacked on a center pivot elevated about 3 inches off the floor.
The lifeboat is considered “good” if all corners and sides are off the floor. The first students will be “picked-up” one-by-one on the lifeboat. Each time a student gets on, they must work to balance the lifeboat.
The desired outcome of this exercise is to foster open lines of communication and respect of ideas, regardless of whose idea it is.
In this team building exercise, students have to build a table that can, at a minimum, sustain the weight of 10 50-page engineering notebooks. For a challenge, the table should be able to hold the weight of a student.
The constraints of this project require that the base of the table be elevated a minimum of 4 inches from the ground and that the table be constructed of only paper and a limited amount of tape and hot glue. The time constraint is that the table must be built and tested within a single 90-minute class period.
The desired outcomes of this project are (1) foster open lines of communication and respect of ideas, regardless of whose idea it is and (2) solve an engineering problem given limited resources, including the resource of time.
In this team building exercise, students start at one location on “dry land” and must “hop” from island to island to reach the “promised land” on the other side.
The islands are made of 5 different pallets spaced at irregular intervals. Some are only 6 feet apart while others are 20 feet apart. Students are not allowed to touch the “water”, which is the floor tiles. If anyone does, the ENTIRE team has to go back to the start.
To help, the team has been given two sheets of poster board, which they can use any way they choose.
The desired outcome of this project is that team members ask questions about “gaps” in the rules. In this case, the poster board can be used to keep the feet of the students out of the “water”. To cover longer distance, the poster board can be torn.
This directly relates to a question that came up in the Velocity Vortex game in the 2016/2017 season. In the end game, teams received points if the cap ball (a large yoga ball) was off the floor. A team asked if you could just push the ball up one of the corner ramps. The national rules committee decided that this was “off the floor” and therefore was eligible for points. Had nobody asked, nobody would have gotten the points.