Saturday, July 30, 2011

Marshmallow Challenge

Marshmallow Challenge is a good team-building exercise that encourages collaboration and creativity, at the same time teaching the importance of prototyping and not making (false) assumptions. It is a fantastic icebreaker for any meeting, does not take too much time and does not require too many resources.

In fact, the only resources you need are:
  • 20 spaghetti sticks (uncooked)
  • 1 marshmallow
  • 1 meter of string
  • 1 meter of tape

The task is to build, using only resources provided, the tallest freestanding structure with a marshmallow on top, within 18 minutes. I gave this task to my labmates at the beginning of the lab retreat that we had recently, and I'm proud to report that two groups out of four, managed to build quite impressive two-story structures!

Before I gave this task to my labmates, I wanted to test myself in it, so I asked Anil to be my teammate and to build the marshmallow structure together with me. I was very pleased to find out that we had exactly the same approach to the task. We first started with drawing a model, and only after we agreed on it, we started building the structure.

We decided that a three-sided base is the most optimal taking into account the resources we had, which proved to be true. However, we hoped to build a three-story structure, which we failed to do as we run out of time. Still, I'm quite pleased with the marshmallow structure we built. It is not as easy as you might think!

Our marshmallow-spaghetti structure: