Radioactive Isotopes


The objective of the challenge is for the group to retrieve a bucket containing deadly radioactive isotope and tip the contents into a second bucket in a defined safety zone. The team only have a rope to complete the challenge and they cannot enter the marked off area.

Equipment Required: 2 buckets, rope, plastic balls, cones to mark areas
Space Required: Small. Indoors or outdoors.
Group Size: 8 to 12 ideally, but can be done with 6 to 14 participants.

Total Time: 25 minutes

  • 5 minutes to brief and set up
  • 15 minutes to achieve outcome
  • 5 minutes to review and debrief
  • Radioactive Isotopes Team Challenge Instructions

  • Organise the group around the marked off area
  • In the centre of the area is a bucket containing deadly radioactive isotopes
  • The team must work together to lift the bucket and tip the isotopes (plastic balls) into the safety bucket.
  • They are not allowed to enter the radioactive zone (marked out) so the only way you can lift and tip the bucket is to use the ropes provided.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

  • Problem Solving
  • Leadership
  • Team Communication
  • Strategy

Useful Tips

If they find it easy:

  • Take away every ball that doesn’t get into the bucket
  • Give them a time limit
  • Take away a couple of ropes

If they find it too difficult then;

  • Let them get closer
  • Tell them they can swap places and move around with the ropes

When working with young people, think about switching leaders to engage all learners and get quieter group members involved in the challenge. If you have someone that doesn’t listen to others and takes over – think about muting them to force them to listen.

Suggested questions to ask in the review:

Did you plan before attempting the challenge?
Was there a leader?
Were you creative in using your resources?
Did everyone feel that they were involved?
What would you do differently, if you attempt the challenge again?

Please see Toxic Waste for a variation on this exercise


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