I adapted this from Sonya Huber's "Six Degrees" experiment. (She calls activities "experiments" which I like, in her great Backwards Research Guide for Writers; Augusto Boal calls them "games," emphasizing the element of play.)

The John Guare play "Six Degrees of Separation" popularized the idea that each person on the planet is connected to every other person by no more than five other people. Guare used the idea to examine the ties that bind each person to each other person and the play between our unity and our separation.

The idea of this game is to take two seemingly unrelated objects, describe them, generate a chart of questions about them, then try to connect them by asking more questions until a linking question is found.

For example, a plastic bag and Wikipedia.


The joker chooses two unrelated objects and gives one object to one group, one to another.

In each group, people first take turns describing the object. You can do this in a circle, each person taking a turn to describe one aspect of the object, then passing it on. Do this until some less obvious features of the object come out.

Then, again in a circle, ask people to take turns free associating from the object: "plastic bag, this makes me think of NYC." The association can be free but the player should be able to explain it to the others.

Then, the groups each generate a list of questions they have about the object, with one person taking notes. When they have enough questions, 10 or so?, the groups write a bubble chart on the board, with questions in each bubble -- leaving the center bubble, the object, blank.

Then, taking turns, alternating groups, members from each group add new question bubbles, related to one of the existing bubbles, trying to find a common question that ties the two objects.

When the objects have been connected, add the missing objects.

Reflection: What do you see? Is the chain of questions significant? Why? How? If not, what's missing? It's a game, after all, so no need to dig deep, unless it seems useful.