The Design & Engineering Olympics– Expanded and Funtastic!

Here’s a great event that has something for everyone. It:

  1. Provides a series of team challenges, not just a single competition. This keeps things moving quickly and keeps energy high.
  2. Has a variety of types of challenges—some that are more physical and some more mental. This increases the appeal, because there is “something for everyone.”
  3. Requires a high level of interaction and collaboration. They are true “team challenges”—not activities that rely heavily on the skills of a few.

Introducing: The Design & Engineering Olympics. It is a fun and engaging competition that is a series of three design and construction competitions. These range in complexity from simple to more complicated and also have varying deadlines.

In each contest, the teams are given the materials, tools, objectives and a deadline.  With each subsequent contest, the challenge gets more difficult. Each competition is scored differently. This encourages each team to understand the measure of success, and plan accordingly.

For this 2.5- 3 hour event, there are three competitions that you would select from the following list:

  1. Quick Challenge (select 1)
    1. Marshmallow Shooter– each team must figure out how to construct a device that will shoot mini-marshmallows at least 30 feet—using PVC pipe.
    2. OR Rocket Launchers—each team needs to put together a simple Rocket Launcher (from a kit) and shoot off 3 rockets.
    3. OR The Ball Machine—each team needs to construct a pipeline of PVC pipe and connectors that are of varying diameters and curves—in order to create a tube through which 20 small balls will roll in the fastest time possible.
  2. Medium Challenge (select 1)
    1. The Tower—teams need to build a tower out of index cards and tape that is at least 20” in height. It must hold the weight of a full 20 oz. cup of water placed at the top of it.  
    2. OR Marshmallow Catapult—built from cardboard, rubber bands, string and a pencil. Teams must be able to shoot marshmallows 30 feet.
    3. OR 3-2-1 Lift Off!– an exciting rocket building and launching event. The rockets are made out of light weight foam and cardboard tubing. The challenge is to create not only a great looking rocket, but to design one that will fly the highest.
  3. Complex Challenge (select 1)
    1. Walking on Eggs– each team must construct a pair of shoes that can walk on eggs. The eggs are placed in the sole of each shoe. After construction is completed, all teams must demonstrate that 4 people on their team can walk 30’ in the shoes without breaking the eggs—in a spirited relay race. Plenty of cheering!
    2. OR Mousetrap Cars—each team builds a model “car” powered by a mousetrap. They must adjust the variables on the car and figure out, by trial and error, how to make the car go the farthest. The testing and adjusting are a lot of fun. The car that can go the furthest wins.
    3. OR The Trebuchet– This is a weighted-arm, catapulting device that flings tennis balls at a cardboard “castle.” Each team must build and test its own trebuchet as well as its own cardboard castle. In the final competition, each team will shoot at a different team’s castle (drawn at random). They have a limited time to knock down the castle with their trebuchet skills.

In the end all team scores are tallied, and the team with the highest cumulative score is declared the winner. But everyone has a great time creating these entertaining objects—as they practice collaboration and teamwork. And that’s the point!

How has team building changed or evolved?

How has team building changed or evolved over the past couple of years? Has technology contributed to the innovation? The essence of “team building” has long been fun and games. It started out as a way of getting people to interact and ultimately get to know each other better—leading to a higher comfort level among employees and hopefully better communication and collaboration. Many of the first team building companies offered things like inflatable games that eventually became the staple of grad nights across the country. Team Olympics in a wide array of formats were also popular and continue to be. However, more companies are looking for events that also have more direct bearing on teamwork and group problem solving –not just fun (though fun will always be a key requirement). These activities include design and construction events, scavenger hunt variations, and other unique team challenges where there is no one “right answer.” Though technology does offer new possibilities in creating these challenges, the basis of team building is still through face-to-face interaction. For example, in some of our challenges, we require internet access to find answers or decipher clues. The common use of GPS also has provided lots of possibilities when it comes to scavenger hunt events. And there companies that have developed apps that provide a scavenger hunt done totally by Smart phone.  At Corporate Games, we don’t like to rely too much on electronics for a number of reasons, the most obvious one is that it is something else that must work flawlessly in order for the event to succeed. What happens if you can’t connect or when devices are not working properly?

Reality TV and the entertainment industry in general has influenced the direction of team building events also. People like to believe they could compete in Survivor, Amazing Race, or other reality TV competitions and game shows. They do, after all, require teamwork -and reveal the difficulty and angst that often comes with trying to work with many diverse opinions and abilities. Many companies, including Corporate Games, have found ways to incorporate elements of these shows into intriguing and entertaining events. These challenge everyone’s team-player abilities and allow them to practice working together in a “safe situation,” because even if you don’t “win”–it will still be fun and you will have learned something about yourself as well as your teammates.