20 spaghetti sticks, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, 1 marshmallow and 4 teams with diverse areas of expertise competing to build the tallest free standing structure in 18 minutes with an entire marshmallow on top. Sounds simple?? We had thought so too.
The marshmallow challenge was first introduced by Peter Skillman, but we came to know about it from Tom Wujec.
It may sound easy but we were surprised by the complexity we experienced in those 18 minutes – Planning, designing and building, deciding the approach, making up our minds and then changing it when peeked at another team’s strategy.
The moment of truth was when the marshmallow was placed on top of the structure that each team had created and the teams were asked to let go of their structures and let it stand free. Not too many spaghetti towers stayed standing beyond a few second.
One’s approach to the marshmallow challenge can easily be compared to how they would go about approaching any task. This activity was a fun way for the team to learn the importance of creative thinking, planning and teamwork.
Every project is a metaphorical marshmallow which looks soft, weightless; harmless and mostly goes invisible until its actual weight makes the whole project crumble. This exercise brought back to us some fundamentals of project planning and design – Plan before you proceed, keep material properties and constraints in mind and improvise as you go along.