Posts Tagged ‘team building’
Working as a productive and sensitive member of a team is looked upon by STEM-based companies as being a requirement to being an effective and contributing employee:
As technology takes over more of the fact-based, rules-based, left-brain skills—knowledge-worker skills—employees who excel at human relationships are emerging as the new “it” men and women. More and more major employers are recognizing that they need workers who are good at team building, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity, according to global forecasting firm Oxford Economics. Other research shows that the most effective teams are not those whose members boast the highest IQs, but rather those whose members are most sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. (http://fortune.com/2015/03/05/perfect-workplace/)
In academia, the majority of research in STEM fields is conducted through collaborations and working groups, where a diversity of ideas need to be proposed and analyzed to determine the best strategy(ies) for solving a problem. In the technology sector, product development is done as a team, with specific roles for each individual but its success is predicated on each member of the team providing a different skill set / perspective. Thus, students who are interested in both academia and industry will benefit from learning how to successfully work in a diverse team. (https://teaching.berkeley.edu/diversity-can-benefit-teamwork-stem#sthash.mHRBJQtV.dpuf)
What follows are some team building activities that use collaboration to explore and solve STEM-related challenges. Note that most of them require minimal supplies – costs.
Great Egg Drop
To begin, assemble groups of 4 or 5 and give each group various materials for building (e.g. 5-20 straws, a roll of masking tape, one fresh egg, newspaper, etc.) Instruct the participants and give them a set amount of time (e.g. 30 minutes) to complete building a structure, with the egg inside in which the structures are dropped from at least 10 feet in elevation and then inspected to see if the eggs survived. The winners are the groups that were successful in protecting the egg. (http://eggdropproject.org/ and http://www.group-games.com/team-building/great-egg-drop.html)
Give teams of 4 to 6 learners 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. Given a time frame of about 20 minutes, the groups must build the tallest free-standing structure out of the spaghetti. The marshmallow needs to be on top. (http://marshmallowchallenge.com/Welcome.html)
The challenge is to create a marble track using the given materials and have the marble land in an 8” square and remain there. Give groups of 4 to 6 students: 1 piece of cardstock, 3 straws, 1 piece of string, 3 sheets of paper, 5 mailing labels, 4 paper clips, 3 rubber bands, and 2 pencils to complete this this task. (http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2013/04/marble-track-instant-challenge-logic-for-kids/)
Drop the Golf Ball
Give each group of 4 to 6 learners 12 straws, 18 inches of masking tape and a golf ball. The goal is to build a container that will catch a golf ball dropped from about ten feet. Each group selects a “ball dropper” who stands on a chair and hold the golf ball at eye level. Each team places its container on the floor under where they think the ball will land. Each group gets three attempts and the group that gets a ball to go into their container and stay wins. (http://icebreakerideas.com/icebreakers-high-school-students/)
The challenge is for groups (3-5 members each) to design and construct a model of a single-span bridge using plastic drinking straws and masking tape as the building materials. The bridge is to span a distance of 40 cm, with no supporting pillars to the ground in between the ends of the span, and be approximately 10 cm wide. It needs to be strong enough to support a suitable load. This might be a book, a can of food, or other object of suitable weight placed on the middle of the completed structure. See Straw Bridge Challenge Worksheet: http://cteteach.cteonline.org/portal/default/Curriculum/Viewer/Curriculum?action=2&cmobjid=197387.
Toy Hacking Team Challenge
This is based on Toy Take Apart. In the Toy Hacking Team Challenge, each group of 3 to 4 members is given three or four battery-operated toys. Their task is to take all their toys apart and then using at least a few parts of each toy create a new toy or invention.
Construct a Chair
This activity asks groups of 3 to 5 members to design and build a full-sized chair from corrugated cardboard (and a mat knife) that could support the weight of a person up to 150 lbs. for up to 5 minutes. The person seated will be in a “comfortable” position with his/her back leaning against the back of the chair. (http://mschangart.weebly.com/architecture/card-board-chair-design-challenge)
Learners make instruments from recycled or natural materials. See http://www.howweelearn.com/spectacular-homemade-musical-instruments/ recycled materials for ideas. Separate learners in small groups of 4 to 6 members in each group. Inform them that they will be performing a musical piece using all of their DIY instruments for the rest of the group. After a practice time, bring groups back together for the performances.
Sneak a Peek
Build a small sculpture or design with some type of the building material (Legos, Tinker Toys) and hide it from the group. Divide the group into small teams of two to eight members each. Give each team enough building material so that they could duplicate what you have already created. Place the original sculpture in a place that is hidden but at an equal distance from all the groups. Ask one member from each team to come at the same time to look at the sculpture for five seconds in order to try to memorize it as much as possible before returning to his/her team. After they run back to their teams, they have twenty-five seconds to instruct their teams how to build the structure so that it looks like the one that has been hidden. After the twenty-five seconds, ask each team to send up another member of their group who gets a chance to “sneak a peek” before returning to their team. Continue in this pattern until one of the teams successfully duplicates the original sculpture. (http://www.teambuildingportal.com/games/sneek-peek)
The Handbook of Mobile Learning has just been published through Routledge: Taylor and Francis – see http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415503693/. I am excited to have a chapter in this edited book, Team and Community Building Using Mobile Devices. Here is the introduction to my chapter:
People in the 21st Century are using their own mobile devices – iPads, netbooks, laptops, and smart phones – to be consumers and producers of digital content, and to be active participants in online communities. They are connecting with one another through mobile technologies in unprecedented ways. Computers, Wi-Fi networks, and smart phones allow young people 24/7 access to technology and to one another. They are familiar and comfortable with social networking and using a variety of apps via their devices. Nielson(2010), in a survey of teen mobile device use, reported that 94% percent of teen users identified themselves as advanced data users, turning to their mobile devices for messaging, Internet, multimedia, gaming, and other activities like downloads.
When educators leverage these types of informal learning by giving agency to the students to use their mobile technologies and by providing the structure and skills for their use within more formal educational settings, motivation and learning are increased. Using mobile devices in educational settings as learning and community building tools can promote interpersonal communication, encourage young people to positively express their individuality and build their student-to-student, and student-to-educator relationships. The strategic and intentional use of cell phones, social networking sites, laptops, blogs, and digital cameras can build diversity and cultural sensitivity, teamwork and problem solving, self-reflection and self-exploration, and communication and self-expression.
This chapter introduces the use of mobile devices as a means to build community and teamwork within a variety of classroom settings: face-to-face, blended, and virtually. This discussion has four components: research that supports the use of student-owned mobile devices for building community in the classroom, evidence to support the importance of promoting community in the classroom, team-building activities using mobile devices, and the results of a end-of-course student survey about using mobile devices for community building,
. . . and an excerpt:
MOBILE DEVICES USE PATTERNS SUPPORT COMMUNITY BUILDING
People of all ages, almost from all parts of the world, are using their mobile devices to communicate, connect, and share personal experiences. They are building their own informal learning and social communities via their mobile devices and social networking sites. This section discusses the research about mobile device use patterns. It becomes the foundation not only for providing a rationale for the use of mobile devices in the classroom, but also serves as a guide for the types of technologies and activities that are best suited for mobile-driven community building activities.
Mobile Phone Ownership and Use Patterns Among United States Teens
A Pew Research report entitled, Teens and Mobile Phones, released April, 2010, noted that as of September 2009, 75% of American teens ages 12-17 own cell phone. This number has steadily increased from 45% of teens in November 2004. Cell phones have become ubiquitous in the lives of teens today, with ownership cutting across demographic groups and geographical locations.
As expected, texting was the top activity of cell phone using teens with taking and sharing pictures, playing music, and recording and exchanging videos also being popular uses.
Worldwide Use of Cell Phones
Mobile device use has become a world-wide phenomenon allowing informal learning and social networking to cross over geographical divides. Pew Research (2011) released a report entitled, Texting, Social Networking Popular Worldwide. The three key findings from this report that support mobile-driven community-building activities are:
- Cell phones are owned and used throughout the world.
- Cell phones are being used for texting, taking photos, and using the Internet. Cell phones are owned by large majorities of people in most major countries around the world. They are used for much more than just phone calls. In particular, text messaging is a global phenomenon – across the 21 countries surveyed, a median of 75% of cell phone owners say they text.
- Young people worldwide are likely to use their cell phones for social networking (Pew Research, 2011).
The usage is similar to that seen with United States teens. Text messaging is prevalent in 19 of 21 countries with a majority of mobile phone owners regularly sending text messages. Many also use their mobile phones to take pictures and record video (Pew Research, 2011).
Mobile device use crosses across socio-economic boundaries and geographic locations. People are using them for texting, photo-sharing, and other forms of social networking. In other words, people are already using mobile devices to build their own informal learning and sharing communities, so it becomes a natural progression and extension to bring this type of learning into the educational environment.
Finally, here is a slidedeck that I use when presenting on this topic:
Zoom: Communicating Perspective is a new mobile learning activity added to those found at Mobile and Technology-Enhanced Experiential Activities. This website describes mobile learning and technology-based activities that facilitate a sense of community in a variety of educational and training settings. They rely mostly on texting, emailing, and photo-taking activities. Free, group sharing internet sites are also used which require access to the Internet via a smartphone or computer. Sites such as Flickr Photo Sharing, Google Docs, and Web 2.0 tools supplement some of the activities.
- To build communication and problem solving skills.
- To understand and develop perspective taking.
- To build visual literacy skills.
- One mobile device with QR Code reader per one or two learners
- A copy of “Zoom” by Istvan Banyai (could be done without but it honors and compensates the author)
- This game is based on the intriguing, wordless, picture book “Zoom” by Istvan Banyai which consists of sequential “pictures within pictures”. The Zoom narrative moves from a rooster to a ship to a city street to a desert island and outer space. Zoom has been published in 18 countries.
- Hand out one QR Code/Image (see below or the original post via the link above for a downloadable PDF) per person/per pair (make sure a continuous sequence is used).
- After QR codes are distributed and images are accessed, tell participants may only look at their own pictures and must keep their pictures hidden from others.
- Encourage participants to study their picture, since it contains important information to help solve this challenge. The advantage of using mobile devices is that learners can zoom in on details of the image. It is the facilitator’s choice whether or not to tell learners this.
- The challenge is for the group to sequence the pictures in the correct order without looking at one another’s pictures. They are to use only verbal communications to describe the images they have.
- When the group believes they have all the pictures in order, they can indicate so and the pictures on the mobile devices can be viewed by everyone. Share the book or the following video so they can see the level of correctness in their order.
- A follow-up discussion can include characteristics of effective communication, how perspective affects how we see and communicate, using visuals to communicate.
This past week in my undergraduate interpersonal communications course, I adapted the Bridge-It communications exercise to incorporate my students’ (most ages 17-20) mobile devices. It combined some of my favorite instructional strategies:
- Experiential and Hands-On Learning
- Team Building and Problem-Solving Group Initiatives
- Using Mobile Devices in Educational Settings
First. students were asked to line up in the classroom on a continuum from those who believed they had the best, most effective communication (verbal and listening) skills to those who thought they lacked those skills. They counted off by three’s to form three groups. The top three self-reported communicators were asked to be the communicators, the others were the builders.
Next, groups were moved to separate rooms, given the same set of building blocks and their task . . .
Build a three-dimensional structure using all the pieces provided. All three structures need to be exact in dimension and in color patterns. The communicators can use their cell phones via text and/or voice to communicate with the other groups.
No time limits were set. When the teams believed they successfully completed the task, they could send pictures of their structures to one another.
After the completion of the activity, reactions and reflections were posted on a Voicethread slide using an image taken during the activity and quickly uploaded to Voicethread.
I loved doing this project! It was fun to get to know the class and it was interesting to figure all of this out without being in the same room with one another. We all worked very well together after we figured out what we were doing.
The activity showed we all communicated very well. The best way we were going to build our structure was to communicate by one and to make sure we had everything in place. i learned that communicating with good instructions will make it successful.
This activity showed how well we can communicate with each other. I learned that we can communicate well if given proper instructions that are detailed and precise.
Next class students will be shown video clips of their participation in the activity. Since the topic is on nonverbal communication, they will be asked to text to Wifitti what the nonverbal behaviors they witnessed during each of the clips.