The students experience cooperation through building a safe and independent construction that should prevent an egg from breaking when it is dropped from a height of 2,5 meters.
- to learn about the significance of cooperation and leadership
- to raise awareness on how leadership emerges in teams
- to learn about the different roles in teams
- to reflect on desirable leader competencies and the importance of cooperation
Prepare several tables and chairs for group work depending on the number of teams the students will be split up. Get all the materials ready but leave it apart, eventually cover it with a cloth.
Step by step description
Step 1: Divide your students into several groups (min. 5 persons per team) and present the project instructions written down on a flipchart:
- The task of your team is to build a safe and independent construction using only the given construction materials in 35 minutes.
- The construction should prevent an egg from breaking when it is dropped from a height of 2,5 meters.
- Criteria for the project success are:
a.) The egg is not broken.
b.) The construction uses an innovative approach.
- You will be working in two phases:
- Project design phase: during this stage you may look at the construction materials and plan your construction, but you are not allowed to assemble them. You have 15 minutes for this stage.
- Construction phase: you have 20 minutes for this phase.
- From the moment you get your material, the time for the project starts running.
- Each team will have one observer during the whole process.
Step 2: Nominate an observer for each team (or let the students themselves elect one). The task of the observer is to watch the process as well as the behaviour of the team members in terms of leadership and cooperation.
Step 3: Start the working process. Let each team have a look at the construction materials which they will get once they have designed their project. After 15 minutes hand over the materials to each team.
Step 4: After 20 minutes all teams come together in a circle in order to present their constructions. Then start with the debriefing.
Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing
Plan enough time for the debriefing. In case some projects proved to be unsuccessful you will need some time to discuss the experience, especially paying attention to the feelings of the students who “failed”.
- How did you feel during the exercise? How do you feel now?
- What were the different roles that team members took on in the process of planning? And in the construction phase?
- In case the construction proved to be unsuccessful what could have helped you to do better?
- Who took the lead? How did you feel in the leader role?
- Did always the same person take over the role of the leader? Or did it change?
- Based on which reasons did these people take over the leadership role? What was the source of their power?
- If you would lead this team again, what would you do differently?
- What can we learn about leadership in teams? Could you imagine teams without leaders?
Suggestions for adaptations and variations
If you work with older students you might continue with an input on teamwork and leadership (see Annex).
Reference / original source of the method
This activity was facilitated by Darko Markovic in his Workshop “Leaders and Leadership” during the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2010 in Senec, Slovak Republic.
Annex: Leadership and Teamwork – 5 Lessons from Geese