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The Marshmallow Challenge

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Courtney Campbell

on 12 September 2013

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Transcript of The Marshmallow Challenge

The Marshmallow Challenge
The Challenge
Your team's challenge is to build the TALLEST freestanding structure that supports an ENTIRE marshmallow.
Let's Build!
This challenge has been conducted by tens of thousands of people in every continent from the CFOs of the Fortune 50 to Students of all levels.
Build the Tallest Freestanding Structure:
The winning team is the one that has the tallest structure measured from the top of the table to the top of the marshmallow. The structure cannot be taped down to or suspended from anything, such as a table or chair.
The Entire Marshmallow Must be on Top:
Cutting or eating part of the marshmallow disqualifies the team!
Use as Much or as Little of the Kit:
Your team can use as many or as few of the 20 spaghetti sticks, as much or as little of the string or tape. You cannot use the paper bag/envelope as part of your structure.
Break up the Spaghetti, String or Tape:
Your team is free to break the spaghetti, cut the tape and string to create new structures.
Time and Measurement
The Challenge Lasts 18 minutes:
Teams cannot hold on to the structure when time runs out. Those touching or supporting the structure at the end of the exercise will be disqualified.
Measure the Structures:
Each standing structure will be measured from the base to the top of the marshmallow.
Prototyping Matters
Kindergarteners do Better than College Business Students
Kindergarteners create taller and more interesting structures because they spend more time prototyping. Business Students spend a vast amount of time planning, then executing on a plan, with almost no time to fix the design once the marshmallow is placed.
Every Project Has a Marshmallow!
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.
We Need to Identify the Assumptions in our Project:
Assumptions, which can include the real customer needs, the cost of the product, the duration of the service need to be tested early and often. This is the mechanism that leads to effective innovation.
One Yard of Tape
One Yard of String
One Standard-Sized Marshmallow
Form Teams of 4-5
20 Sticks of Spaghetti
Modified from Tom Wujec's TED Conference
Play the challenge for 18 minutes
Full transcript