Marshmallow Challenge 2.0

Last year, when my friend Genie told me about the Marshmallow Challenge, I was on board from minute 1.   I knew I would do it again this year, too, but just maybe a little later than my original plan from last year, based on our new plans for doing community building.  So this year, we waited a little longer, and today was Marshmallow Challenge day.

Just like last year, we worked within these guidelines:

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 9.03.48 PMOk, well almost the same rules.  I realized when I opened the box that I had thin spaghetti, so I gave them 5 extra pieces. 🙂  The rest was the same.

First we reviewed our norms and the directions, then I set the timer and they set off to work.

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At the end of the 18 minutes, everyone stepped away….and….we saw all but one of the towers fall. 😦

Now, while the stated goal of the challenge is to build a tower that stays standing, the real goal of the activity is to work well enough with your group that that other goal can happen.  So what we needed to find out is what happened that made it hard for us to achieve our goal today.  We met on the carpet to discuss plusses (things that we did that HELPED us do well, or that went well) and deltas (things we would CHANGE to make it better next time).

Here’s the chart we made:

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We talked about our thoughts, and whether or not it was a coincidence that the 1 group whose tower stood is also the only group who put any plusses on our list.  Obviously, it was not a coincidence.

So my next question was “So what do we do next? What do we do with this information?”  The answer (from more than one person) was “Clean up?”  Well…yes, but that was not quite the level of problem solving I was hoping to hear.

So now I’m asking myself, what do I do with this info?  We’ve obviously still got a ways to go before most of us are ready to do something this tricky.  Today’s challenge, and the debrief that followed is telling me we still need to work on how to accept and appreciate the perspectives of others and not just consider our own.  We still need to work on using kind, patient voices with our classmates.  We still need to learn how to include everyone in an activity and give everyone an equal say.  We still need to learn to be gritty when something is hard or doesn’t work right on the first try.

So that’s what we’ll do.  And while we were not quite ready to take the Marshmallow Challenge today, someday–probably sooner than later–we will be.   And we’ll do it again. 🙂

Oh, but one more thing.  Here’s a pic of the group who was able to build a standing tower.  Way to go, friends!

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Can’t wait to share this again when we have our Marshmallow Challenge 2.0–Take 2!