This morning there was a team building exercise at the District Executive Committee meeting.
It was called the "Marshmallow Challenge" and each participating team gets a brown paper bag with:
20 sticks of spaghetti A piece of string Masking tape A marshmallow and has 18 minutes to assemble a free-standing structure supporting the marshmallow. We had about 10 teams of 4 people each.
According to the official rules on the marshmallow challenge site, each team is supposed to get one yard of tape -- for our version, each team got a roll of masking tape. The rules we were given specified we weren't allowed to tape the spaghetti to the table, but nothing about not using the tape roll itself. This played well for our solution.
When the 18-minute clock started, our team spent the first few minutes inspecting our supplies and considering our options. A "tee-pee" was what we decided to go with -- it was going to take too long to assemble girders out of the spaghetti.
We made five or so rods of three spaghetti sticks each and started assembling. The tower wasn't and we started wrapping it in lengths of tape and then the roll itself came into play: securing the tower to the roll made it really stable.
We continued to build another two levels of sticks on top of our 3-stick tall tower when we got the two minute warning. Looking at other people's towers, we had no chance of winning -- they were big gangly structures with struts and crossbars and a lot of airy height.
At around the 1 minute warning, people began installing their marshmallows atop their towers -- and that's when it got fun. There was a lot of crumpling going on in that last minute!
Our tower was also too tall -- we couldn't balance the marshmallow and it looked like all was lost.
In the last 15 seconds or so, I made a quick executive decision to behead our tower by two sticks of spaghetti... losing the top 25% of height. We smushed the marshmallow on top of the resulting spike. It stood!
The Buzzer sounded and we looked around.
Of the ten teams, there were about 6 towers standing. Two of them were disqualified due to being taped to the desk. One collapsed before it could be measured.
Of the remaining towers, ours was tallest by a few centimeters!
No official challenge was made regarding our use of the tape roll after a judge confirmed it was okay to use "anything in the bag." Instead, we were applauded for our creativity.
What'd I take away? Iterate, cooperate, and marshmallows weigh more than you think.
Also, in the course of this post, I learned "marshmallow" has no "e" in it.