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Marshmallow Challenge Leads to Team Building

Posted October 20, 2015 in News, Student Happenings

CJ Novogradac ’19

On October 8th the Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI) sponsored a student lunch where KLI employees were given the opportunity to meet fellow co-workers. KLI student coordinators Ted Hall ’16 and Bridget Moran ’16 organized the event.

To start students were given 15 or so minutes to chat and get to meet other classmates they might not have known worked for KLI. Then the students were split into several teams for a game called The Marshmallow Challenge. In this game each team is given 15 uncooked sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape, string, and a marshmallow. The goal is to be the team that builds a structure that holds the marshmallow the highest above the table. The groups were given 15 minutes to complete this task. In the end most groups built towers that fell because the marshmallow was too heavy. The key of the game is to build the structure around the marshmallow itself. After the competition, Ted noted that kindergarteners are often more successful than college students at the task because undergraduates typically build the entire structure and wait to place the marshmallow on top with a only few seconds remaining. Usually this leads to a height of zero inches because the structure collapses under the weight of the marshmallow leaving little to no time to rebuild. Kindergarteners, on the other hand, place the marshmallow on top of the structure at multiple points during construction so by the end they know the structure will be able to hold the marshmallow’s weight.

A few groups were able to successfully build structures that sustained the marshmallow’s weight. Effective groups usually build a fortified triangle base and placed the marshmallow on the structure with enough time to balance the weight of the marshmallow’s mass to avoid collapse. The activity compelled group members to work together even though not everyone in each group knew each other previously. The marshmallow challenge served as a perfect team building and bonding activity by providing students the opportunity to connect with their KLI co-workers in a fun and marginally competitive environment.