Saturday, October 18, 2008

I forgot one thing... Marshmallow Olympics!

The Totally Trades day ended with what I have to say is one of the cleverest activities I have ever seen - a thing called Marshmallow Olympics!

No shit, this is sooooooo cool.

The girls (over 100 of them) competed as teams representing their schools. Each school team got a bag with what looked like two cups of stale miniature marshmallows and about a half a box of toothpicks.

Then they were told to build something. Prizes were to be awarded for tallest structure, most realistic-looking, best geometrical design, and a few others. They go 15 minutes and no further instruction than that.

Honestly, the concentration and effort was as intense as anything I have seen out of adolescent girls. There was no sniping, there was no bitchiness, there was no bossiness or unpleasantness. And each school team worked differently. Some had each girl do something with tasks assigned by one or two leaders, some had a few girls working in the middle with others crowded around offering ideas and guidance, one team even had each girl make her own structure and then they were all stuck together to make a large one.

A few thoughts occurred to me as I wandered around looking at the projects underway. First was wouldn't I like to do a Myers-Briggs-Personality-Type-Indicator study on each group, and second was that while the groups were competitive, I heard none of the usual "their is better than ours... we suck" stuff so common among adolescent (and older) girls. Each team had a unique structure. None was more than 8 or 10 inches tall, but they were in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

It also occurred to me that this would be an ideal team-building, MBTI exercise for staff development workshops or things like RA trainings in colleges and such.

Of course, the girls loved it. It taught them to work together, to learn from each other (some had been to bridge-building workshops during the day while others had not) and it taught them some problem-solving skills. And they had a great time.

Again, I was thoroughly impressed.

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