Thursday, May 8, 2014

Teamwork: Cup Stack Take 2


Last year the cup stack was one of my FAVORITE team building activities (see post here).  So, naturally, I wanted to give it another shot!  The Cup Stack is a fun, yet challenging activity that promotes team work.  The supplies are basic: cups, string, rubber bands.  I go ahead and tie the string to the rubber bands so it is ready to go.  I make a few for groups of 4 and a few for groups of 5, this way no matter what the numbers are in the classroom I can make it work.

I start by asking students what teamwork is.  What does it look like? sound like? feel like?  We brainstorm a list of ideas that I hang in the classroom for students to refer to.  Each class comes up with a variety of ideas, but they all center around the same theme.



Then I introduce their challenge.  I start off my admitting that this will be a frustrating activity.  We discuss ways to handle our stress and feelings that arise when others make a mistake or don't do what we want them to do.  I model that they will each be given 6 cups and a rubberband with strings attached to it.  Their job is to stack the cups into a design by only holding onto their individual string.



I demonstrate that when everyone pulls on their string the rubberband opens wider, and vice versa.  I also show them the challenges of picking up a cup that has tipped on its side or fallen on the floor.  No matter what happens, they must follow the one rule: YOU CAN ONLY TOUCH YOUR STRING.  No touching the rubber band, no touching the cup, and no touching other group member's strings.  I reinforce how communication is so important in order to reach the goal.  Then I set them off.  Here are some videos and pics.












After about 10-15 minutes, we pause and reflect on our experiences.  I ask them to rate their group on how well they worked together using the ideas we wrote at the beginning of the lesson.  I ask them what went well for their group.  I also ask them what didn't go well for their group.  We talk about different strategies and ways we an handle ourselves when things don't go the way we want them to.  Throughout the activity I walk around and facilitate positive communication, so I usually have a few examples to help springboard the discussion. 

13 comments:

  1. I love this. I plan on using it this week.
    Beti

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    1. It is so much fun! I hope you enjoyed it!

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  2. I think I'll try this with my psych residents working on Collaborative Care - working in inter-professional relationships - great idea - I think I'll give them the items and let them figure it out (but not touching the cups).

    Collaborative Psychiatrist

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    1. Great! Yes, the less instructions the more exciting it becomes. :) Have fun!

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  3. This looks a really useful and effective activity that could be used for explaining How and why; impacts of; and ways to address; conflicts in team

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  4. Are there any tips on rubber band size? tying the strings?

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    1. I just used regular rubber bands the school had. You have to make sure they stretch large enough to fit around the cups. I only double-knotted the string, making some with 3/4/5 strings attached to account for different group sizes.

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    2. Does this work with a group of 3?

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    3. Yes, just have 3 strings attached to it. They'll have to pull a little harder to get the rubber band to expand enough to go around the cup, but it is doable. I typically do groups of 4-5. It won't work in groups of 2.

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  5. Great activity--I've used this with my staff and simply given them the strings and rubber band as prop to use to accomplish the task of stacking cups without assembling the tool for them. I sent the groups away from each other so they couldn't steal the eventual solution to see if and when they figured out how to assemble and use their prop. Tons of fun---after we return to the larger group, any team that "got it" demonstrates to the groups that never figured it out.

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  6. Great activity for staff development. I had groups of 5-6 and after giving them the task to accomplish, sent them off in isolated areas away from each other to attempt the challenge with the strings and rubber band to somehow use as a prop if they wished. So, they had to brainstorm how to use the strings and rubber band ---some figured it out, others never did. When we returned to the large group, those that "got it" showed the rest of the group---fun stuff!

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  7. Do you have any kind of worksheet to use with this?

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    1. No, it's a hands-on discussion then we discuss after.

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