“Old reliable”

Posted by jlubans on October 14, 2014

Caption: “Free fall from a perilous height.”
The “Egg Drop” is one of the most durable and teachable adventure games. But, since most USA graduate students will have done an egg drop in their previous school years, I tend not to use it in America.
However, I have found most Latvian students have not done this activity – much of Latvian higher education (a very high quality one, by the way) is traditional textbook/lecture. Due to the egg drop’s inherent novelty, I can expect good engagement and high interest whenever I go to the “old reliable” – the egg drop activity.
Caption: Early design process, the clock ticking.

My directions are brief:
Team Mission: Sustained Excellence (I used to pun this as EGGcelence; forgive me!)
Purpose: Design a transportation device that sustains excellence even when egg is dropped in a free fall from a perilous height to a hard surface.
Resources: One egg, Ten minutes, 20 straws, 1 meter of tape, you and your team.
1. Use only existing resources (those listed above) to build the transportation device.
2. Choose someone to tell us the name you have chosen for your device and in one sentence, why yours is the best.
3. Choose someone to launch the transportation device.
Caption. All hands in.
And the fun (and learning) begins.
I am teaching undergraduates, for the first time, in my 2-credit class: “Democracy in the Workplace: Self-Managing Teams & Managing Self.”* (Usually, I teach graduate students and practitioners.) I’ve adjusted the agenda for the undergraduates, assigning fewer readings and adding in more activities including a brief solo interview paper. (More on that assignment later.)
I used the egg drop in the next to last class (yesterday). The students have done several team projects – including the Books2Eat team project - so it seemed right to underscore some of the group and team development theory with a hands-on activity leading up to next week’s final exam.


Caption: Engagement with task.

If you look closely you will see, I think, very good examples of team work: everyone involved, doing an equal share of work, supportive postures and expressions, high focus on time, task and outcome, manifest creativity, and group accountability.
Caption: Team presentation prior to drop.

Well, you might be asking, this looks like a positive team experience, but how does it teach anything more? What do the students learn?

Caption: Lessons from "failure".
For one of the students the most important take away was that each group used a different design approach and that, since none of the eggs survived the drop, perhaps the best elements of each design could be integrated into a new design, a collaboration. I’ll take that insight as a pretty significant learning easily transferred to workplace teams.

Please note that the comment’s mechanism has been repaired. Comment-away!

As previously alluded to, my Fulbright Specialist Program grant award is official. Quoting from the October 16, 2014 Fulbright press release:
John Lubans, Jr., an Independent Scholar,
has been selected for a Fulbright Specialists project in Riga, Latvia, at the University of Latvia, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Information and Library Studies during 2014, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Lubans will be teaching a 6 week class: “Democracy in the Workplace: Self-Managing Teams & Managing Self.”
Lubans is one of over 400 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad this year through the Fulbright Specialists Program. The Fulbright Specialists Program, created in 2000 to complement the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program provides short-term academic opportunities (two to six weeks) to prominent U.S. faculty and professionals to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at post secondary, academic institutions around the world.

@Copyright John Lubans 2014

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