Marshmallow Tower


In this activity, teams are asked to make an exact replica of a tower, which has been created by the activity leader.

Unfortunately, no one team will receive all of the materials that they need. As teams struggle to create the tower they will realize that by sharing materials they can all achieve a better end result than by acting alone. Some groups will come to this realization and decide to trade materials. Others will not.


Each team will need the following items:
15 Marshmallows
10 straws (non-bending)
5 small paper cups
1 roll transparent tape
Prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners
CSW Scratchers for all participants


Create your model tower. The more complex, the better. Be sure to use all of the materials noted above.

Divide your group into teams of three to five people.

Prepare a packet of materials for each team based on the list above. But, remember, each packet should be missing one item. For example, one team receives just four cups, while another team receives six.

When your teams are assembled and you have handed out the packets, bring in your pre-built tower. Explain that the teams will have 20 minutes to replicate your tower. The team that comes the closest is the winner.

It will quickly become clear that items are missing. It is best neither to encourage nor discourage trading of items. Groups will naturally gravitate toward one or the other.

When time is up, invite the group to view all of the towers. Announce the first, second, and third place winners or allow the group to vote for their favorites.


As you are viewing the towers, ask the following questions to focus attention on the collaborative nature of the activity:

  • Were you able to build a good replica of the model tower? Why or why not?
  • What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
  • How does building the tower relate to your daily work?
  • How does this activity relate to being part of the larger organization, or group?
  • How can we encourage collaboration and healthy competition within the group?

Additional questions (add these if the teams did not collaborate):

  • Why did you choose not to collaborate?
  • Was it a conscious choice or did it not occur to you?
  • What would have been possible if you had decided to share materials?

Additional questions (add these if the teams did collaborate):

  • How did you come to the decision to collaborate?
  • What became possible once you made the decision to share materials?

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