This is a group problem solving & communication exercise
This activity involves moving marbles or different sized balls
or even water down lengths of half pipe or 1"/2"gutters. The trick?
Each participant has only one short length of pipe each, and the
start and finish points can be separated by an obstacle course!
Can be done with children of upper primary age, teenagers and
adults in a variety of settings both indoors and outdoors.
Choose this activity when you need to energize the group into a
team, or to emphasize the importance of each member's actions in a
As facilitator, you can control how hard or easy to make this
task. You can take them over obstacles, down stairs, around trees,
etc. If, for example, the group is in the forming stage, put only
one minor obstacle in the path and create opportunity for fairly
instant experiential success of teamwork. If the team is functioning
cohesively, make the obstacle course longer and harder and more
physically challenging in order to deepen their experience of what
they can achieve together.
Brief the participants on the start line and the finish point (a
distinctive container is helpful), and give them any extra rules you
may wish to add to the task, such as: every person must carry the
marble at least once; participants need to take turns in a certain
order; or both feet must remain on the floor at all times-get
creative if you want to add challenge.
Give the group the pipes and the marble and 5 minutes planning
Allow the group several attempts if you have the time and they
have the motivation, or keep it to one attempt and draw out the key
points in the debrief
Challenge the group to see how fast they can get the marble
through the obstacle course. Time the group, and ask them to
"tender" for how fast they think they can really do it. Then give
them another go. Requires debriefing.
For added problem solving under pressure, do not give the pipes
and marble to the group during planning time.
Can be done indoors with a height factor involved. Explain that
the marble is stuck to a point on the wall with blue tack and their
job is to 'rescue' it and bring it down safely to a container on the
floor. Use the gutters more like a ramp, and perhaps give one less
gutter than the distance. Once they are set up, allow the marble to
be released from the blue tack.
Frame the activity in terms of a new project which the team
needs to respond to both efficiently and effectively, for example: a
new client with specific needs; a tender to be put together by a
deadline; or a marketing strategy idea that needs to be put into
Lengths of half pipe or narrow guttering, marbles or balls or
can also be done using water
5 mins planning
5 mins to 30 mins action
activity where each participant gets one short length of half pipe,
and the group must work together to deliver a marble down the pipes
from start point to finish. Requires a high level of communication
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