I just used this activity for a group of principals, administrators and staff of a PA school district during an all-day CEO Chef team building workshop that also included our Corporate Culinary Challenge. This activity, called “Tower of Babel” really calls for extensive pre-planning and problem solving (a good warm-up for the Corporate Culinary Challenge!)
Groups that do the best with Tower of Babel usually spend most of their time planning, testing their materials, and building prototypes.
I thought you might want to try this with your own team – and, it still has something of a culinary air about it, as well!!
Tower of Babel
Time required: 30 minutes minimum
- 1 round table per team
- 1 lb spaghetti or linguini (dry) per team
- 1 bag mini-marshmellows per team
- 1 chair per participant
- 1 rope or cord, 5 feet in length (I’ve never needed longer – usually 3 feet is enough)
Divide larger group up into teams of 6-8. Assign each team a table. Hand out the rules, building materials and start the clock! When time is called, you may be able to eye-ball the winner. If not, use the cord and mark off the height from base to top of tower on the cord. Keep this distance and readjust only if a subsequent tower is taller (make note that this new tower is now the tallest)
- Allow a mandatory time for planning before building is permitted
- Make exercise competitive (as if they won’t do that naturally!)
- Assign one observer per team whose job it is to watch the team for problem solving and planning behaviors
Tower of Babel Rules
(to be handed out to each team)
To build the tallest, free-standing tower you are able to from the materials provided and within time limit.
- You will be given a limited amount of time by the facilitator to plan and construct your tower.
- The tower cannot be supported by any device other than with the building resources provided. (This means you cannot hold up the tower by hand! )
- The height of the tower will be determined at the time of judging.
- The height will be judged as a vertical measurement taken from the base of the tower to the highest point of the structure.
- Only building resources provided to your team by the facilitator can be used in construction of the tower.
- Additional conditions may be added by the facilitator at any time.
Tower of Babel Debrief Questions
(to be handed out to each observer if used, or each team at the end of the activity. Add more questions as you need.)
Questions for Observers:
- How did the team allocate its time between planning and doing?
- How did the team work to accomplish its task- e.g., did one person assume a leadership role; was the task divided into sub-tasks; did the team work independently or as a whole?
- How effective was communication within the group?
- What role did each team member play in the group.
- Did every team member have a chance to contribute?
- Did every team member feel they had a chance to contribute?