I came across another excellent TED Talk video on the “Marshmallow Challenge”. The Marshmallow Challenge is a team building exercise where you are given 20 pieces of dry uncooked spaghetti, one yard of masking tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. Teams then work together to build the tallest free standing structure while supporting the marshmallow on top within 18 minutes.
Tom Wujec compiled some really interesting statistics on people who do really well with this experience and those who do not. Press play to check out the 7 minute video.
A Marshmallow Challenge is an excellent motivation and team building exercise. If you want to run your own Marshmallow Challenge, keep reading.
You will need 45 – 60 minutes start to finish to do the challenge. This includes the 18 minutes spent participating in the activity and time before and after to discuss. You want to have a dedicated workspace (preferably separate tables) for each team to work.
Prior to the challenge you want to prepare kits for each team. Four to five members per team is a good starting point.
Marshmallow Challenge Kit:
- Twenty sticks dried uncooked spaghetti
- Yard of masking tape
- Yard of string
- One marshmallow
The administrator(s) of the challenge will also want to have a measuring tape and stop watch. Larger groups will want to have video projector and/or sound system.
The rules for the challenge are as follows:
- The largest freestanding structure wins as measured from the table top to the top of the marshmallow. The structure cannot be supported by anyone or anything that is not included with the kit.
- The marshmallow needs to be supported on the top of the structure. Any team that cuts or eats part of the marshmallow will be disqualified.
- Teams are free to break up the remaining kit components anyway they like. Teams are also allowed to use as much or as little of the kit.
- Once teams are together and the instructions are explained, each team has 18 minutes to complete the challenge. Any structure not freestanding with a marshmallow on top will be eliminated.
- Make sure everyone understands the rules. Tom Wujec recommends repeating the rules at least three times.
At the end of 18 minutes, measure all structures from the table top to the top of the marshmallow. The team with the tallest structure and followed the rules wins.
Tips to running a successful Marshmallow Challenge:
- Use standard size marshmallows, avoid stale, jumbo, and mini marshmallows.
- If string cannot be easily broken by hand, include scissors. Scissors cannot be used in the structure.
- Use uncooked spaghetti, avoid thin spaghetti, fettuccine, and linguine.
- Cut one yard strips of masking tape and place on the end of the table for each team.
- Putting each kit in a brown lunch paper bag works best, be clear that the paper bag cannot be used in the structure.
- Play music during the challenge.
For more information on the Marshmallow Challenge, visit Tom’s site:
Have you participated or run a Marshmallow challenge? If so, please share your experience.