In celebration of National Engineers Week, teams from several of our offices took the Marshmallow Challenge!
The Marshmallow Challenge was invented by Peter Skillman of Palm, Inc, and was later the subject of a 2010 TED talk by Tom Wujec of Autodesk. The rules are simple:
Teams are given 20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, 1 yard of masking tape, 1 yard of string, and a marshmallow
The object is to build the tallest free-standing structure with the entire marshmallow at the top
Teams have twenty minutes to build the structure, and can use as much or as little of the materials as they like
We had fifteen teams participate across four office locations. On the line: a team lunch or happy hour. Runners up enjoyed S'mores as a reward for not eating their competition marshmallow.
Studying the results of the Marshmallow Challenges typically reveals the importance of testing assumptions early and often. Kindergarten students regularly out perform business students on the challenge because kindergartners are more likely to periodically test and prototype with the marshmallow, whereas business students often build the entire structure and then try to triumphantly stick the marshmallow on the top at the end of the challenge (usually with disappointing results). Predictably, architects and engineers usually score well, but groups with a mix of different types of employees perform best, as different learning styles and skill sets collaborate.
We can't think of a better way to celebrate engineering than with a challenge focused on creative problem solving and innovation.
Missed our intro Engineers Week post? Read it here.