The students cooperate in order to solve the challenge of moving blindfolded and speechless from one field to another.
- to foster cooperation by moving blindfolded and speechless
- to raise awareness about the significance of communication and cooperation in solving problems
- blindfolds (one for each participant except 2 persons in the mother ship)
- sticky tape
- obstacles like shoes, stones, paper basket, etc.
- alarm clock
- Make sure that the distance to move from one defined field (= shuttle) to another one (= mother ship) is long enough (at least 30 to 50m, distance and ground depending on the group), possibly over uneven ground. Secure the gaming zone, but put some obstacles on it to increase the challenge for the students. Ideally, the activity takes place outside, optionally the school yard could be used.
- Set the scene and define the fields for an imaginary mother ship and a shuttle.
- Explain the „Stop Rule“:
Step by step description
A story around the activity makes it more fun and lively, it also increases the feeling of a real-life situation and, accordingly, the pressure and the group dynamics.
2. Two students volunteer for the mother ship and take their positions as „instructors“. Two other students volunteer for the shuttle and remain there for the next 5 minutes. After 5 minutes they have to leave, too and to reach the mother ship („the oxygen in the shuttle is going to be used up very soon“). Students in the mother ship do not leave their field position for 15 minutes.
Both the students in the mother ship and in the shuttle can see and speak – they give verbal instructions to their astronaut-colleagues on their way from the shuttle to the mother ship.
3. All other students get blindfolds – they cannot see and they cannot communicate with each other, but they can hear the instructions from their colleagues in the mothership and the shuttle.
4. After 5 minutes the alarm clock rings and the last 2 astronauts on the shuttle now have to leave. From now on they depend on the instructions of the astronauts in the mother ship. During their trajectory they are also blindfolded and speechless.
5. After 15 minutes the alarm clock rings again. Did all astronauts manage to reach the mother ship?
In case the team does not manage to fulfil the task, an intervention by the teacher/facilitator might be helpful. Ask all participants to stand in a circle. Let them describe the process (do not do it for them, only if needed). What was difficult? What was helpful? What would you do differently if you tried again?
Questions for debriefing
- How did you like the activity?
- How did you manage to cooperate in teams (mother ship, shuttle, walking astronauts) and between teams to reach your goal?
- How did the 2 remaining astronauts in the shuttle feel and react in face of time pressure to reach the mother ship?
- Mother ship and shuttle: How easy/difficult was your job to guide your blindfolded colleagues by giving instructions?
- Walking astronauts: Did you receive clear and helpful instructions?
- What was particularly helpful? What would you do differently if you tried again?
- What do you guess, why did we do this exercise? What could we learn out of this activity? (Collect the learning on flipchart.)
Suggestions for adaptations and variations
Variation: Blind worm walk
All people in the group are blind and not allowed to talk. Only one person can see. This person has to stay at the very back of the group and help the navigation. The group has time to come up with ways of communication without talking.
Reference / original source of the method
This activity was facilitated by Katrin Lüth during her workshop „Travel Guide – Project Cycle“ at the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2012 in Laško, Slovenia.