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Straw Tower Building

Straw Tower Building

Props/Prep: Yes
Time: 30 min
Audience: Any (teams)
Physical: Yes

This activity can be used for many different purposes. The most obvious is to illustrate teamwork, planning, and cooperation. You can set this up for all to participate in small groups, or as a demonstration to the class. It works best as a competition between several groups to see who can finish first and with the highest tower. This is a great activity to help teams bond, or to illustrate team process.

Time Requirements: This depends on how many straws you use, suggested to use 60 straws per group. 10-15 minutes build time, 30 minutes total.

Materials needed: You will need 60 straws for each group of students, and a roll of masking tape for each group. Buy a large box of straw from a big box supplier like Costco. 

Procedure: Divide your students into equal groups of 6. Give each group a set of 60 straws, and a roll of masking tape. When you give the signal, each group must try to build a free-standing structure out of straws and tape. Listen to how they share ideas and watch for both frustration and enthusiasm and how it is communicated. At the end of the activity have the group debrief what the experience was like, both the challenges and the successes.

Variations: You can make the criteria for the build to be the most creative tower, the tallest tower, or the tower built in the fastest time frame (first one finished). Add a rule that prohibits verbal communication. 

Function in Class: This activity is great to demonstrate teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, cooperation, etc. It can be used as a springboard activity to begin class, or as an illustration to connect class content at the end of class. It can also be used as an icebreaker at the beginning of the semester to introduce students to each other. 

Source: Deb Dunbar (Professional Development) & Jeff Short (The Business School)