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#7895031 May 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Guild Officers
48 Posts
What did you think of that video? How could you leverage some of the ideas presented in your own classroom? What are the advantages of using an activity like this? Disadvantages?
MissGeek (aka Lori Ferguson)

#7916543 Jun 01, 2013 at 09:50 AM
50 Posts
Love, love LOVE this video!

My ELA colleague and I have team taught most of the 2nd semester this year. Two major problems we've had are student collaboration and lack of resilience. This activity teaches both brilliantly.

This collaboration part is obvious. With a concrete design challenge and a time limit, students need to work together quickly in order to be effective.

The real brilliance, though, is in the value of prototyping. Our kids have a huge problem with assumed inadequacy. They want their hands held all the time. Their motto might as well be, "If at first you don't succeed, give up." It's an extremely frustrating problem.

Yet when they play video games, the mindset is totally different. They have latched onto this web game called Unfair Mario, which they will play for hours on end. The whole point of Unfair Mario is that the game is weighted against you. But yet, they persist. I need to figure out how to get them to transfer that spirit to their schoolwork!!!
John Weldy
7th Grade Math Teacher
South Bend Career Academy
Twitter: @johnweldy
#7917051 Jun 01, 2013 at 12:01 PM
44 Posts
For me, the really interesting point of the video was the difference in results between the kindergarten students and the business students. It appears that the younger group kept the goal in sight whereas the older group was more focused on the process. Does the traditional teaching model of teaching reduce the tendency of students to innovate?

Secondly, were the results when comparing extrinsic awards to intrinsic award systems for success. The groups offered large awards did not do as well as those simply offered a challenge.
#7917519 Jun 01, 2013 at 01:58 PM
9 Posts
Cool video. I loved the idea that Kindergarteners outperform business school grads and that having an executive admin on the CEO team greatly increases the efficacy of that team. Young students have fewer barriers to trying alternatives. They're less susceptible to the group mindset and the hesitancy to take a risk, and so they sometimes come up with wild & wonderful ideas. Our current schooling system can wear down creativity and may make students see the education process as a journey to get the "right" answer, rather than as a way to continuously adapt and grow.

I think that part of why the huge reward was not earned the first go-round is that having such a large reward made the challenge seem more challenging and that people assumed that it was going to be a very difficult challenge. I'm guessing that most groups felt that the other groups were going to accomplish amazingly tall structures and so nobody came up with a way to just prop the marshmallow on top of the pile of spaghetti, even just an inch up. They psyched themselves out & therefore froze their creative flow, so to speak...

I love the idea of this cross-curricular type of activity. As I mentioned in my personal introduction, I am a Special Education teacher. In a classroom with students with Aspergers, High-Functioning Autism, and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, this activity could be incredibly useful as a self-awareness activity. Such students typically need some extra supports to improve social pragmatics and executive functioning skills. As many of the students struggle in navigating the social world and in organizing themselves, the activity presented would be challenging, but the results of successful team building would be rewarding, as would the lesson that flexibility in the design process is vital.
#7917628 Jun 01, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Guild Officers
164 Posts
Wonderful video. Anyone that has ever watched a Sir Ken TED talk or spent a lot of time with Kindergarteners will know the limitless creativity of Kindergarteners. I taught them for three years and they always continually amazed me. They are not afraid to try anything.
The high stakes challenge was not a surprise to me although I did not figure a zero percent success rate. I do not do well under high pressure situations and my brain basically shuts down. Think about that for our accountability movement and high stakes testing. The first thing my students ask when I give a math test is if it is timed.
The greatest thing that I got from this video is a super fun activity for Wednesday, when my class has camp day. We can eat our smores after the challenge.8)
#7918829 Jun 01, 2013 at 08:33 PM
33 Posts
I liked the video and loved the comments that precede me in this forum. While i watched the video, however, i found myself waiting for the performance qualities of teachers to appear somewhere on the charts.

They never showed those though, and i finished the video wondering where my colleagues at my school and I would end up. Though I know teachers can be extremely creative and collaborative at times, i've been feeling lately that the weight of school reforms and state demands tend to box us up and keep us from tapping into our real potential for creativity. I don't want to hijack this thread into a diatribe about current issues in education, but I wonder how much of the kindergartners' success comes from the freedom from expectations and constraints....and I wonder how much of that freedom to experiment and "play" while solving a problem has been pushed to the back burner for many teachers today. And of course, our limited ability to find the freedom to succeed in creative endeavors as teachers tends to rub off on our students and the activities we plan for them.

So as I thought about how the marshmallow challenge might fit in my social studies classroom, I decided it doesn't really matter; the experience can teach a wonderful lesson in playing as a way to learn, and to show students how unconventional and creative thinking can create a valuable environment for learning. So I can see the value in this lesson, as well as this video, in opening up the possibility of using some of those very important qualities of education that are so often ignored by standardized tests and high stakes assessments.

And THAT is the most I have ever typed I'm my iPad screen and my fingers are too tired to make any more edits so this will have to do. :) i hope I haven't wandered too far off topic.
#7920975 Jun 02, 2013 at 09:57 AM
Guild Officers
164 Posts
Dr. Quest,

I too wondered how my colleagues would stack up in this challenge. I had said that I will be doing this with my class, but we also have a staff party this week, and it would be quite fun with a few of our very competitive teachers.;)
#7925720 Jun 03, 2013 at 10:02 AM
Guild Officers
48 Posts
For those of you who were intrigued by how the kindergartners performed in this challenge. Don't miss my "Creative Thinking" Quest. It contains an interesting article about creativity and kindergarten.
MissGeek (aka Lori Ferguson)

#7925889 Jun 03, 2013 at 10:38 AM
7 Posts
The part about being able to identify the "marshmallows" in projects really resonated with me both from a teaching perspective (in planning and assessing) and from a student perspective (what's the goal, what's important to know). I tend to struggle with this about midway through the year because I feel like I have to get through so much content that the goal kind of gets lost. The students need to know how to do something and don't necessarily get enough time doing it. Or they are expected to keep that information in their heads and pull it out at the appropriate time, which means a lot of prompting.

The other part of this challenge was that its really student centered. The groups are given materials and a goal, but no other instructions. I teach mostly middle school and high school. I find that if you give something like this to high school students, they are constantly looking for feedback to see if they are doing it right. Middle school students are slightly more willing to go through the whole thing and then get feedback and then make corrections. That seems to jibe with the conclusions made concerning business people and kindergarteners. The process of school seems to make people more cautious and look for more direction.
#7928061 Jun 03, 2013 at 05:21 PM
3 Posts
My staff just did a similar activity during an inservice day (straws, paperclips, and a plastic egg at the top). My observations mirrored those from the videos - groups that were successful followed an iterative process, while those that failed did not. Interestingly the winning group (mine, BTW) was made up of a wider variety of subject areas, and we had several valid approaches that we tried throughout the process. More homogenous groups (particularly those with math and science teachers) spent more time coming up with The One approach and failed at the last minute.
I do a lot of PBL in my classes, and the value of an iterative work process over the life of a project is often challenging to communicate to junior high students - I may try this out with my students next year to see if it helps clarify the importance experimentation and iteration.
#7933580 Jun 04, 2013 at 05:36 PM
49 Posts
Terrific video and a great lesson.

The connection between high stakes and low skills immediately brings to mind the CAPT (CT standards test) given to sophomores in March. It is a HS graduation requirement given a year and a half into a four years plan.

It is amazing what students can do when they are allowed, even encouraged to fail. The kindergarteners rule only because they have not been indoctrinated into the school mentality where everything is assessed in a high stakes kind of way - even low point formative assessments count some. The freedom to try and try again until you are satisfied was one of the things that attracted me to 3DGL in the first place. Quests allow you to work it out. DBL should be even more fum to create.

I mentor/coach a robotic team at the high school and we have a summer leadership training session where this or something like this may make an appearance.
#7951722 Jun 08, 2013 at 07:54 AM
25 Posts
The video demonstrates some interesting patterns and observations. First, as an engineer, I was interested in seeing that engineers and architects performed well. Based on my own training and experience at work, this makes sense. A major portion of our training is spent trying to figure out the potential "marshmallows" in each challenge or problem. This is typically the first step in solving any problem. We also typically work in teams to develop plans and designs and we definitely need to know how to work as a group in order to build anything - just imagine any construction site and all the workers and equipment. An engineer/architect is typically managing/overseeing that operation and needs to know how to get everyone working together to create the build.

The success of the Kindergarten classes didn't surprise me since I think at that age kids are not yet too scared to fail. And they are not yet at the point where they try hard to be in charge. They all just want to have fun. It's interesting to me that this seems to change by middle school. All of my own children have complained over the years about group activities. And it seems that part of the problem is their grade is at stake which seems to be a similar problem to the prize offered in the video. They perceive the final result of their group activity as having significant consequences for them so it becomes less enjoyable or fun and leads to difficulty in working together, particularly if they are paired with nonperformers.

For the type of training I am working on, which is continuing education, I think the video shows the lack of significant consequences for failure in this type of training is beneficial. The video also shows how important it is for problem solving lessons to teach as our engineering professors did and start out with a quick analysis of the problem and listing of all the possible issues or problems that could arise.

The other point I saw in the video is the importance of the ability to facilitate - this is something I have become specifically aware of in my own industry over the last few years. Most of the failures in development of solutions and policy has been because of poor facilitation. So I can see how training could be structured to not only teach a specific topic but also help people understand how to be good facilitators. It's definitely a skill most professionals should have.
Pam Broviak
Twitter: pbroviak
Websites: Public Works Group, Grid Works, GovGrid
#7952727 Jun 08, 2013 at 12:45 PM
8 Posts
Through the whole video I continued to think how this could pertain to my classes. It dawned on me that completing a hands-on project such as this is a great learning tool of how to work in group. I'm curious how high school students will perfom with this task and will offer this challenge next school year. The idea of a student-centered project without the use of technology really appeals to be because they will really have to learn to work together and collabarate to produce a final project. The idea of repeating the challenge is also appealing so the students can really think about different approaches with the experience already gained.
#8015718 Jun 20, 2013 at 03:04 PM
8 Posts
I enjoyed this video and laughed at the who does better section of the video - kindergarteners! (And, engineers!)

I will use this as a team building exercise in my AVID class. I like that the lesson is to test for the assumptions in a project before you spend too much time planning. I think my high school students will understand the message without it being explicit.
~ Debbie Evans ~
#8016502 Jun 20, 2013 at 06:30 PM
9 Posts
Definitely there are parallels to students trying to solve algebra problems. Students tend to spend so much time thinking that they never get started on solving the problem. I did flip my classroom and I do have students working in groups, so I would like to try this as a team building activity. It's good because it can work to create bonds between team members, some of the less academically inclined might have a chance at the best performance and it involves problem solving.
Be curious!
#8497708 Sep 26, 2013 at 10:08 AM
25 Posts
It was quite clear that collaboration was the key in the video. What hits home for me though is the simple question that he posed about "Why bother doing the Marshmallow Challenge?" In my school I see a lot of people stressing over testing and performance. What the marshmallow Challenge brings to the classroom is the whole package, collaboration, instant feedback, team, leadership, etc. and the students would hardly realize they are being challenged with an important real-world skill.
I can certainly see how regular use of this type of group work could improve student understanding of the whole process, and, perhaps more importantly, this could emphasize the fact that it is ok to fail as long as you move forward to improve, like the Kindergarteners.

#14264271 Dec 10, 2019 at 06:16 AM
15 Posts
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#14423683 Sep 21, 2020 at 10:16 AM
2 Posts
Great video! Shows a lot of which I was uncertain before! Great job, just great.
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