Floating your solutions


Learn principles of teamwork.


Form teams of two or three. Provide each team with 10 straws and about 25 inches of masking tape. Instruct each team to build a raft to support small coins. Tell each team that they have 5–10 minutes to construct their penny-carrying raft. Tell them that they may not pretest the ability of their raft to float. The rafts are placed in a large sink or pan for the testing. Float the rafts for 5 minutes and then begin to place coins one at a time on the rafts. The team with the raft that supports the most pennies without sinking or tipping wins.

Once all teams have had an opportunity to build and test a raft, they are allowed to reconstruct their rafts for another try. Each team uses the same straws but is given a new piece of masking tape.

Follow the game with discussion questions. What made designing the raft easy or difficult? How did you come to an agreement on how the raft should be built? Did the second raft perform better than the first? If yes, why? Were you tempted to see what other teams were doing while you were designing your raft? How is building rafts like working in family, quorum, or class? What principles and behaviors make problem-solving work well in families or groups?

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