AP Psy. Has the Ingredients for Collaboration and Creativity
What do dry spaghetti, string, and a marshmallow make?
On Thursday, September 5, faculty member Jason Wang and his AP Psychology classes conducted the Marshmallow Challenge. The 20-minute Marshmallow Challenge involved long pieces of dry spaghetti, tape, string, and marshmallows. Each class was divided into small groups who had to collaborate with their teammates by getting innovative and creative in trying to make the tallest tower using those materials and completing the tower with the marshmallow on top. Mr. Wang said about the Marshmallow Challenge, “I use the challenge to teach my AP Psychology students about creativity. The teams that think beyond structures they have seen before tend to do better, as do teams that find creative uses for the materials.”
The steps for the Marshmallow Challenge are: 1) The largest freestanding structure wins as measured from the tabletop to the top of the marshmallow. The structure cannot be supported by anyone or anything that is not included with the kit; 2) The marshmallow needs to be supported on the top of the structure. Any team that cuts or eats part of the marshmallow will be disqualified; 3) Teams are free to break up the remaining kit components anyway they like. Teams are also allowed to use as much or as little of the kit, and 4) Each team has 20 minutes to complete the challenge. Any structure not freestanding with a marshmallow on top will be eliminated.
The Marshmallow Challenge has been used to teach the attributes of collaboration, innovation, and creativity. For a project to be a success, each group needs to resist the assumption that building a lightweight tower made of tape, string, and spaghetti will be easy, and that the lightness of the marshmallow will be easily supported at the top. After building and testing the structure for 20 minutes, the marshmallows did not end up being so light and a few towers did end up leaning. The Marshmallow Challenge helped our AP Psychology students learn to collaborate with others who may have different creative and innovative approaches when it comes to conceptualizing and completing a project.