Purpose: Students collaborate with others and use problem solving skills in order to complete a task.
1. Students form groups and organize tasks.
Divide the class into groups of five. Give each group 15 sheets of paper and a strip of masking tape. Suggest that students discuss options and then try them out in order to consider pros and cons before using the tape.
2. Students build towers.
Start the contest and observe students as they work. After 10 minutes have passed, announce that time is up. Have the class decide on the winning tower or towers, and then instruct students to put the room back in order. Observe their ability to work together.
3. Students discuss the activity.
Ask students to describe the winning strategies. Through questions and comments, guide students to describe what worked and what didn’t work. If necessary, help students realize that the towers with the strongest bases were most successful.
Point out that students used all the steps of the problem solving process in order to solve this problem. Ask students to explain how each step was used. (Students should mention the following: They gathered information when asking questions about the contest. They identified options when considering how the tower could be built. They considered pros and cons when they tried the options. They made a decision when they chose an option and built the tower.)
Have students identify the skills they relied on in order to participate in this contest and build the towers. Through discussion, help students realize that in addition to decision making and problem solving skills, they also used goal setting, planning, and time management skills, as well as their abilities to follow instructions and work together as a team.