Ice breaker

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The materials.



Having spent some time teaching, I think one of the biggest obstacles to learning is an inhibition, or a discomfort with the class room environment that leads to a reluctance to share ideas. Perhaps this is due to a fear of being wrong. Or maybe we have some need to form hierarchies early in our relations with others, and that by participating, we allow our selves to be hierachy-ized. Whatever it is, it's counter productive, and the sooner we can get past all that the more we'll get from this school. Here are some ideas about how to go about this

  • form groups
  • work on a task
  • select a task where no one has a head start or deeper background due to previous training or experience
  • select a task that facilitates social interaction

What follows is my effort to create activities with these characteristics.


Much of what follows was shamelessly taken from [1] and [2]. Come to the front of the room and collect 55 planks for each group.


  1. Structure must be standing at the time of measuring.
  2. Time limits must be observed. They are
    1. 1 minutes, discuss strategy. No touching pieces.
    2. 2 minutes, prototype construction, each person can touch pieces, but final structure can not be started.
    3. 5 minutes, build it.

Lowest structure

Build the lowest structure possible. There are no restrictions on the base. Structures will be measured vertically.

Longest linear structure

Build the longest structure possible with only two planks touching the ground. Projects will be measured along the longest axis parallel to the plane of the table.

Toy Challenge

Build the highest and widest structure you can

  • Include one small toy in the structure
  • The toy must be at least 3 long axis lengths above the base
  • The toy must be visible on at least one side of the structure

The max height and max width will be added together for a final score.