The Marshmallow Challenge

My colleague Caroline and I recently ran a training course for student tutors and we started it out with the Marshmallow Challenge, that Siska had suggested, both as an ice breaker, team building task and to have participants gain experiences together that we could refer to later on during the workshop.

So, Marshmallow Challenge. Except that we modified it and used a kind of pasta that was a lot more bendy than typical spaghetti — we are working with future engineers, after all!

So this is what we started out from: Every group got

  • 20 “spaghetti”
  • 1m of tape
  • 1m of string
  • 1 marshmallow

They were then asked to build the highest possible, free-standing tower with a marshmallow on top in 18 minutes.


Some groups started sketching out solutions, others started experimenting. Lots to talk about later on: How did the design process go? How did you assign roles to different participants? Was there conflict? How did you solve it?

IMG_3127Everybody was busy and 18 minutes flew past! When looking at the schedule for the workshop, it seemed like a lot of time out of the half day to spend on, basically, a game. But there was so much going on!

In some of the constructions looked very sophisticated, and all of them looked very different from all the others. And the design and prototyping and construction process went very differently from team to team, too.

This is at the very end of the 18 minutes, when all the hands had to be off the towers. As you see, some had difficulties staying upright.


The Marshmellow Challenge definitely worked well for our purposes, and it was fun!

After the Marshmallow Challenge, we went on for the more conventional part of the workshop, and this is when we talked for example about group development.


I like giving workshops! :-)

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