Culinary uses marshmallows to learn about teamwork

Culinary uses marshmallows to learn about teamwork

Who would have ever thought marshmallows can serve a different purpose than being an edible treat? Students from OSTC-SE recently embarked on a new team game known as The Marshmallow Challenge.

The goal of the game is to build the tallest tower in 18 minutes, which will support a marshmallow. The marshmallow is a metaphor for the hidden assumptions of a project: Most people assume that marshmallows are light and fluffy and easily supported by the spaghetti sticks. Yet, when a group starts to build their structure, they discover that marshmallows are a lot heavier than they appear. The Marshmallow Challenge teaches planning and critical thinking can help achieve success. It also shows success is dependent upon close collaboration between team members. The Marshmallow Challenge’s top five concepts are:

1. Foster a culture where assumptions are challenged
2. Provide real-time feedback instead of waiting until the project is completed
3. Focus on encouraging learning opportunities instead of simply searching for the best answer
4. Communicate a shared and meaningful purpose to team members
5. Clarify expectations but allow students to define which route to take

The students reflected after the project to discuss its outcomes. Using a reflective process for a deeper understanding allowed students to help see their classmates’ alternative perspectives.


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