Drop the egg
Learning how to drop an egg from ten feet in an emergency if ever it were to be necessary in the workplace.
Team work, leadership skills, working under pressure (of time, resources…)
One fresh egg, two sheets of A4 paper, two strips of string – 15 cm each, two strips of sticky tape – 15cm each, two balloons, four pencils/crayons. Several sheets of flip chart paper to cover the floor prior to egg dropping. Takes about half an hour – debrief crucial.
Tell groups that the task is to drop a fresh egg ten feet to the ground without breaking it or cracking the shell. Give half an hour, but crucially the first 15 minutes must involve design, without touching any materials. During this time the trainer should go round discreetly and make notes of progress.
N.B. They do not have to use all their resources, but let them work that out or ask you. When each team has constructed their craft for the egg to travel in, they cannot do a test flight, but must wait for the 30 minutes to elapse. Then take it in turns to drop the egg. It usually needs someone to stand on top of a table, and for health & safety reasons it is best for the trainer to do this. (There are many different possibilities for a successful egg drop, but generally those who focus more on cushioning the egg on landing, rather than slowing the flight will achieve greater success).
This can be reasonably in depth, and questions posed by the trainer include:
- did you each have a role in the team?
- did a leader emerge?
- did anyone feel left out/ have too much to do?
- what were the high points/ low points?
- did anyone do time keeping?
- did anyone ‘benchmark’ or check on the progress of other teams i.e. look outside the group?
- why do you think you were successful or why do you think things went wrong?
Drop the Egg Variations
On time management training, put groups under more pressure of time, with another activity added in so they have to delegate/work smart.
For a leadership skills course, try allocating roles using post-it notes. Observing a couple of teams who are all secretly given the role of leader is intriguing. Watch the ensuing chaos, and ensure there is real learning from the debrief. You can allocate leader/team member and time-keeper roles for a more orderly if less exciting experience.
On a negotiation skills course, without prompting the group, you might reasonably expect them to negotiate for more materials – eg. String, balloons etc. And/or more time! Spread the teams out so that they don’t overhear each other and those who take the initiative in negotiating enjoy the advantage.