The students imagine that they are members of two local villages which are separated by a deep valley. They have to construct a bridge which they design and prepare in two separate groups. In the end the two halves will be put together and the outcome will be discussed.Aims and objectives

  • to identify the important aspects of teamwork and sharing tasks within a team
  • to understand the stages of problem solving
  • to experience challenge while creating a common product
  • to be able to explain your ideas and to decide on a good strategy

Material needed

  • Sheets of A3 paper
  • Sheets of cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • String

Preparation

The activity works best if there is enough space available. This could be either one big room that allows the groups to work without being heard by the others or a separate rooms or corridor.

Step by step description

  1. Give the participants the following information:
    Imagine: Two villages, very close together, but separated by a deep valley. The local communities of the two villages – both curious and interested in the other – want to be able to meet each other. Therefore they decide to construct a bridge across the valley. They want to make sure it is a common bridge – built together in the way they both want. So they decide to agree on the model of the bridge and then each build half of it, hoping the two halves fit together nicely to create a whole bridge.
    Put yourself in the shoes of these two local communities and build a bridge together. In two separate teams you will get the task to construct the common bridge out of paper, cardboard and string. And at the end of the task we will put the two halves together hoping it is both strong and beautiful.
  2. Divide the participants into smaller groups. Ideally each “village group” consists of 4-7 participants. The number of groups has to be even.
  3. In each case two village groups will have to construct a common bridge. Give them the materials and the following instructions:
    – You may use the given resources.
    – You have to build your half of the bridge without seeing the other village.
    – Collect the ideas in your community (separated from the other village):
    10 min
    – Two delegates, one per village, meet to share the ideas and agree on the
    model of the bridge: 2 min
    – Collect new ideas.
    – Start building your half of the bridge in your village: 15 min
    – Finish your half of the bridge: 15 min
    – All villages meet in plenary and put their halves together.
  4. The bridges are presented in plenary.

Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing

After a short break, come together for a debriefing, looking at what the students discovered during the activity in terms of strategies for problem solving as individuals and as a group.

Possible questions:

  • My role: How did I contribute? What was my strategy? If we were a group on a ship, which position would suit me best?
  • Our strategies: Which strategies have been developed by the group? Which strategies were more successful, which less?

Reference / original source of method

This activity was facilitated by Barbara Helm and by Peter Hofmann at the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2010 in Senec, Slovak Republic.

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