Compete with other schools and join the leaderboard by completing fun and exciting activities

Marshmallow Tower Challenge

Earn Points:
To earn points for this activity, upload a photo of you at the activity, a copy of a certificate earned, or other documentation to show that you participated.

Describe the Activity: 

The task is simple: in eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

Surprising lessons emerge when you compare teams’ performance. Who tends to do the worst? Why? Who tends to do the best? Why? What improves performance? What kills it?

If you need to kickstart a meeting, get a team into a creative frame of mind, or simply want to encourage your organization to think about what it takes to dramatically increase innovation, invest 45 minutes to run a marshmallow challenge.

Measure the Structures: From the shortest standing structure to the tallest, measure and call out the heights. If you’re documenting the challenge, have someone record the heights.
Identify the Winning Team: Ensure they get a standing ovation and a prize (if you’ve offered one).
Wrap up with the Lessons of the Marshmallow Challenge: Deliver the attached presentation or just describe some of the key lessons of the marshmallow challenge:

Time Details: 

The whole challenge will take 60 minutes.

Cost Details: 

Cost of materials

Outcome of the Activity: 
Prototyping Matters: The reason kids do better than business school students is kids spend more time playing and prototyping. They naturally start with the marshmallow and stick in the sticks. The Business School students spend a vast amount of time planning, then executing on the plan, with almost no time to fix the design once they put the marshmallow on top. The Marshmallow is a Metaphor for the Hidden Assumptions of a Project: The assumption in the Marshmallow Challenge is that marshmallows are light and fluffy and easily supported by the spaghetti sticks. When you actually try to build the structure, the marshmallows don’t seem so light. The lesson in the marshmallow challenge is that we need to identify the assumptions in our project – the real customer needs, the cost of the product, the duration of the service – and test them early and often. That’s the mechanism that leads to effective innovation.
Activity Address: 
United States
39° 55' 6.3372" N, 75° 8' 11.958" W
No Downloads

Participating Schools