Activity: The Tower Game

Try this team-building activity to learn about team roles, communication, and effectiveness.

DIY_Hdr

Read about participants in the EmcArts New Pathways for the Arts program and their experience with this activity here.

Activity Objective

Learn about team roles, planning versus execution, communication and team effectiveness.

Worksheet

Download the activity description as a PDF here.

Download: The Tower Game

Participants

Can be used with any size group that can be broken into teams of 3 or 4 people. Ideally, there should be at least 3 teams.

Duration

Approximately 1 hour.

Facilitator

A facilitator is recommended to lead the exercise and keep time.  You will also need an observer for each group and two or more judges.

Activity

Step 1: Each group is given the following materials:

  • Two sheets of poster board paper
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 scotch tape dispenser
  • String (can be a ball of string, you’ll want at least 36”)
  • 10 paper clips
  • 10 straws
  • Magic markers in various colors
  • Some crepe paper streamers
  • Glue in various colors, types
  • Anything else that comes to mind (Legos, pencils, marshmallows, etc.)

Step 2: The facilitator should tell the groups:

  • You will have 40 minutes to construct a tower that will be judged on two criteria: Height & Beauty
  • There will be a planning period of at least 10 minutes and an assembly period of not more than 30 minutes
  • Towers must be built ONLY with the materials provided
  • Towers will be judged by outside observers on the two criteria

Step 3: Send the teams off to work and ask the observers to remain behind for additional directions.

The observers should be looking for things like:

  • Was there a designated or emergent leader?
  • How were decisions made?
  • How involved were people on the team?
  • How were the plans formulated?
  • What worked for the team?
  • Where did the team run into trouble?

While the groups are working, the facilitator should be circulating and making their own observations about the process. The facilitator should gather several outsiders to assist in the judging process.

When the 35 minutes has elapsed, the facilitator should tell each team that they have another 5 minutes to put together a marketing presentation.

Step 4: Based on the established criteria, the facilitator and the judges have a quick meeting to come to consensus on the ratings and present the winner with some simple prize/award.

Reflection

What did the observers make of the teams?

What did the teams learn about how they work together?

Sharing

In the comments section, we encourage you to share something that you learned or something that surprised you.

About
Karina Mangu-Ward is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at EmcArts.

  • Rachel H

    Aside from this exercise’s usefulness for exploring leadership and group work, I think that this activity also begs some interesting artistic questions. Height and beauty represent two very different ways of judging a finished product – one is objective, the other highly subjective. I can imagine groups having to reconcile that sometimes these two criteria may be conflicting. If a tall tower comes at the expense of a beautiful tower, is it better to build a structure that partially satisfies both criteria or fully satisfies just one? I can also imagine groups struggling to come to a collective understanding of what “beauty” is. Groups would not only have to arrive at a mutually agreed upon vision of beauty, but also determine the role beauty should play. Is beauty secondary to structure? Can the structure itself be beautiful?