Another academic year has started with a wonderful new group of MSc students, so this year I have introduced the marshmallow challenge (which you can watch via a Ted talk in the first link), to get them all thinking about groups and team work.
The principle involves a team competition to build the tallest freestanding structure out of 20 pieces of spaghetti, 90 cm of string, 90 cm of sticky tape and one marshmallow which must be placed on the top of the creation, and the tower must be completed in 18 minutes. A tall order in many ways.
Anyway after some incredulous looks my new students got down to work.
A couple of groups drew and planned first before starting to build.
Another group built and then adapted whilst a fourth group focused on the foundation of the structure.
There were many exchanges of ideas, much listening to each other and quite a lot of task allocation and a lot of hands on construction!
The winning structure, see below, measured approx 60 cm but started to lean rather alarmingly. When questioned about the design, the inspiration had come from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
A wonderful website, www.marshmallowchallenge.com and community exist around the marshmallow challenge, with a great gallery of various teams’ attempts including fantastic creations from kindergarten children who ,apparently , create the most imaginative and very robust towers as they constantly prototype ideas and adapt as they go along.