This game comes from Tom Wujec. See his very useful detailed instructions and TED talk.

For my purposes, the project serves as an experiment in which people can practice cooperative learning, work, and innovation.

Prep the materials ahead of time.
For each group:

  • one bag with 20 sticks of spaghetti
  • one meter of tape
  • one meter of string (not heavy)
  • one marshmallow
  • one pair of scissors

A measuring tape to check the towers and a camera to photograph the process and results.

The flow:
Form groups of 4 people (randomly, or their choice)
Explain the goal: to build a freestanding tower with a marshmallow on top
Time: 18 minutes
Goal: Tallest freestanding structure wins

no holding, hanging, etc.
have to use whole marshmallow (can't bite off half)
can't use the bag or other materials
don't have to use all materials, can break them

Joker circulates to remind people of time, rules
Play background music 18 minutes long, (e.g. OLD SCHOOL REGGAE MIX SKA REGGAE ROCKSTEADY 70'S 80'S RUB-A-DUB STYLE)

When time is up, review the results and celebrate both the successes and the failures.

Post analysis:
5 minutes freewriting – how did you feel? Why? What did you see?
Then do a round of "what did you see?", you --> me style (each speaker chooses next person to speak)

Backloaded commentary from Joker, if any:
agile – prototyping/testing
challenges to cooperation?
Heterogeneous teams?