The students are confronted with a fictive situation. In order to solve the problem they are challenged to touch 30 numbers which are laid out in the room. They must touch all of them in the right order and as fast as they can.
Aims and objectives
- to present ways of solving problems
- to discuss and communicate in a group in order to find common solutions
- to listen to each other and co-operate
- 30 numbered markers or spots
Prepare 30 markers or spots, numbered from 1 to 30. Arrange the classroom by putting the tables and chairs aside or choose a larger room if available.
Step by step description
- Describe the task to the students:
Imagine that a computer virus has infected the entire network of the school and your class/team has been called to destroy the virus. You can heal the system only if you quickly, as a group, touch all the 30 numbers that will be placed on the ground. The members of the group must touch all the numbered spots as fast as they can. They have to stand on each number (one participant on each number) and when it is done, they have to shout their number in the order from 1 to 30.
- Send the group out of the room and give them 5 to 10 minutes to plan.
- Randomly lay out the 30 numbered markers or spots on the ground.
- Then call the participants and start the timer for the first attempt. Time each attempt as soon as they say they are ready to start.
- The team will eventually arrive at a variety of solutions including giving each member of the team a number (or several numbers depending on the size of the group) to step on in sequence as they run through the set area. After several attempts this ‚ordering‘ will become more fluid.
Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing
- What was the initial reaction of the group?
- How well did the group cope with this challenge?
- What skills did it take to be successful as a group?
- Which creative solutions were suggested and how were they received?
- Did everyone listen to each other’s ideas?
- What would an outside observer have seen as the strengths and weaknesses of the group?
- What roles did people play?
- What did each group member learn about him/herself as an individual?
- Which key factor led to an improvement over time?
- How motivated were the participants to continually improve after their initial success at the task?
Suggestion for adaptations and variations
Depending on the number of students divide the class into smaller teams (e.g. 8 to 10 students). This might make the activity even more effective. Especially for older students it would be more challenging to lower the number of participants thus make them think more creatively.
Reference / original source of the method
Tibor Škrabský facilitated this Problem solving activity at the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2010 in Senec, Slovak Republic.