Team Building Activity: Waste Not, Want Not

Waste Not, Want Not

Inspire creativity, teamwork and a little competition in your group with this team building activity that requires teams to build a structure at varying degrees of difficulty using random materials to earn points. The team that takes the most risk with superior execution will win! Communication and working as a team are the keys to completing this challenge.

Time Needed: 20-30 minutes

Group Size: 6+, split into two small groups

Materials: Two bags of 30 various items of your choosing (ex. pipe cleaners, small building blocks, clothespins, dixie cups, plastic spoons, straws, paper, etc.); two roles of masking tape; a ruler; two small flashlights; two sets of 1, 2 & 3 point squares (these are pieces of paper of varying sizes – 1″ x 1″ = 3 points, 3″ x 3″ = 2 points, 5″x 5″ = 1 point)

*Helpful hint: If you have more than two small groups competing, you will need additional sets of all materials listed above.

Directions: Begin by splitting the group into two smaller teams. Explain to the teams that their goal is to build a lighthouse. The taller the structure is, the more people will be helped with light from the lighthouse when navigating in rough weather. Let them know it will be each team’s job to create the tallest lighthouse possible. They will have six minutes to create a structure utilizing as many materials as possible in the structure. Tell the group that there are three square cards at each group’s space, and each has a point value. Each structure must stand completely within the boundaries of one of these squares. Their structure must also include the flashlight in the top 1⁄3 of the structure. They will have fifteen minutes to complete this task. Lastly, explain the scoring to the team:

  • Each inch height of your structure will receive 1 point;
  • Total height of structure will be multiplied by 1, 2 or 3, depending upon which square contains the structure (the smaller squares are worth more points since they give less surface space);
  • Each item used in your structure will receive a point;
  • Each item not used in your structure will decrease your score by 3 points; and
  • The team with the highest score wins.

Ask if any instructions need to be read again. Then have the groups stand next to their squares and bag of materials. When you start the timer, they may dump their bag of materials. As the groups work on their structures, please make sure to observe what’s happening, check to make sure everyone is participating, etc. If you see participants who aren’t follow the rules, gently remind them of the rules again. Also, let the groups know when they have 5, 3 and 1 minutes left. When the time is up, look at the different structures to count up the points and identify the winner. Celebrate them by giving each member of that group a high five!

Debrief Questions:

  • What roles did you each play in building the structure?
  • What communication challenges did you have to overcome?
  • What did you learn from this activity that might help you in the real world?
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