In this team building activity, the team has to transport marbles from the start line to the finish line, using only PVC pipes.
PVC pipes of various lengths
A medium-sized container/box
Space Required: Medium. Indoors or outdoors.
Group Size: 8 – 20 participants
Total Time: 40 minutes
- 10 minutes to brief and setup
- 15 – 20 minutes for the activity
- 10 minutes to review and debrief
- Set up a start line and a finish line for the activity. The more people you have in the group, the bigger the play area should be. If you’re conducting this indoors, you can use the entire length of the room.
- Set the container/box behind the finish line — the team has to deposit their marbles here after transporting them across the play area.
Running the Activity
- Explain the activity: The team has to work together to transport 15 marbles from the start line to the container at the finish line. The catch: they cannot use their hands to move the marbles! They must only use the provided PVC pipes as the method of transportation.
- The team is given 5 minutes of planning time.
- Once they are ready, they can begin the activity. The facilitator will time how long it takes for the team to complete the task.
- If time permits, repeat this activity several times and give the team the chance to improve their times.
- The team must start the activity with all members behind the starting line.
- Each team member must use their pipe at least once when transporting each marble.
- The team can transport only one marble at a time.
- If a marble falls out of the pipe, the team has to return to the start line to begin again.
- The marble must be safely deposited in the container at the finish line.
Suggested Learning Outcomes
- Resource allocation
- To make the activity more physically challenging, construct a ‘obstacle course’ that the team has to go through while to transport their marbles.
- Limit the number of PVC pipes (i.e. Not every participant has a pipe, but everyone has to part of the pipeline in order to successfully complete the challenge).
- Remove the limitation of transporting only one marble at a time — this challenges the team to communicate better and be able to multitask more effectively.
- Use shorter lengths of pipes to increase the level of teamwork and coordination needed to finish the challenge
- Challenge the group to set their own time limit to complete the activity. Time their attempt, and debrief based on their actual time taken versus the expected time.
- To introduce an element of creativity, give the team the task of building their own pipes (using materials such as cardboard, plastic sheets, masking tape, rubber bands etc) instead of providing them with PVC pipes.
Suggested questions to ask:
- How did your team approach the challenge?
- Did a leader emerge? If yes, how did having a leader help make the team more effective at completing the task?
- What problems did you encounter during the activity?
- Why was communication important in this activity?
- What did you learn from the first round? How did the team attempt to improve your times in subsequent rounds?
- What did you learn from the challenge as a whole?