Building Bridges Toward Teamwork
Tags: Challenge | CPP | Creative | Northlands | Teamwork | Vermont

Building Bridges Toward Teamwork

When CPP Instructor Lisa Robinson first challenges her classes to build a free-standing bridge out of newspaper and scotch tape that can support 12 pounds and clear a 4-inch minimum height, the reaction is always the same.

“They say ‘No way, we can’t do that’,” Ms. Robinson says with a smile. “But then they start thinking about it and sharing ideas, and before long they’re on their way.”

Ms. Robinson came up with the idea (with the help of her husband) as a way to foster teamwork, giving students the opportunity to work together on a shared goal.

“I’ll split them up into teams and watch the dynamics of teamwork develop,” she said. “I’ve found that competition between groups helps to foster very creative outcomes.”

The task is designed to incorporate four different stages during the bridge-building process: designing, consulting, constructing and testing.

“The testing phase can be very interesting,” Ms. Robinson explains. That’s when she places a 12-pound weight on the bridge span to see if it holds. If it does, then she’ll run a 3 1/2 inch tall toy car underneath, which must clear.

“It it fails the test, they take it apart and do it again. It then becomes an exercise in re-thinking and re-working. When they pass, I take their photo and add it to the wall.”

Looking over at the montage of happy faces and newspaper bridges, she smiles. “The students are very proud of their bridges.”

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