Activity 2: Amoeba Electric Fence


  • Brainstorm strategies to cross over the fence as a group as well as maintain contact with the lifeline
  • Use communication skills to develop solutions to the challenge
  • Work collaboratively to support fellow participants
  • Discuss their experience and feelings

Character Focus

Trust & Caring


Time: 5 minutes
1 Toobeez set
1 envelope
15-20 foot piece rope
chart paper (optional)

  1. Place the Risk Taking Note into an envelope.
  2. Set up the “electric fence” at an appropriate level of challenge to the group. The taller the height, the harder the task. The second longest tube makes a good challenge for middle school students.

The Challenge

The entire group must cross over the “electric fence” without touching the Toobeez and without letting go of the rope.

Safety Reminders!

Appropriate caution is important to conduct these activities in a safe manner. Be sure to review these reminders prior to beginning the activity, and if necessary, share reminders with the group during the activity.

  • Introduce/review spotting techniques and safety procedures with all participants (refer to the introduction of this activity guide)
  • Proper spotting is necessary so participants do not hit their head or spine on the ground. It is ideal to have cushions on pads placed under the horizontal bar of the fence to minimize the effects if a fall occurs
  • If your group is not physically strong enough, mature enough and/or calm enough, do not attempt this activity

Helpful hints!

  • This challenge requires a lot of trust and is best left for a mature group that is able to consider the safety of others
  • Consider presenting this activity in stages, beginning with a low fence height so the group can easily travel over the fence
  • The “lifeline” requires the group to stay focused as a group and to keep their “head in the game”

Activity Instructions

  1. Circle up the group. Distribute or display the appropriate “Risk Taking Note” for the activity. Have one participant read it aloud twice. Provide a few moments for the participants to think about the message:
    The Berlin Wall separating East from West Germany was built in 1961. The goal of the Wall was to keep people who lived in East Berlin from being able to leave. However, the Wetzels and Strlzycks families decided that they would take the risk to get to freedom in West Berlin. They secretly bought small amounts of nylon cloth so as not make anyone suspicious. When they had enough cloth, they sewed it together to form a hot air balloon. They had saved just enough fuel to get into the air, and in the middle of the night, they took the risk, put together their balloon, and floated over the wall to freedom.
  2. Share the following storyline with group.
    You are attempting to cross this fence so that you can get to freedom on the other side. You will need to accept the help and support of your fellow travelers. Together you can make it!
  3. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.
    Challenge: The entire group must cross over the “electric fence” without touching the Toobeez and without letting go of the rope.
    Follow the guidelines below:
    • The group may not utilize the space directly under the horizontal bar of the fence
    • No one may touch the fence or any supporting Toobeez
    • Everyone must hold on to the “lifeline” rope
    • All members of the team must have at least one hand on the lifeline rope throughout the activity
    • No other supplies may be used in this activity
    • A team member crossing over the fence must remain in physical contact with at least one other teammate all times
    • If any guidelines are broken, the group must begin again
  4. Before the participants attempt an activity challenge, have the group work through the following six steps:
  5. Problem Solving Sequence:

    1. Circle up
    2. Know and understand the challenge and the guidelines
    3. Brainstorm
    4. Make a plan
    5. Do the plan
    6. Evaluate results and adjust as necessary
  6. Ask the participants to name some of their obstacles. Suggest to the group that the Electric Fence represents these obstacles.
  7. Be sure to monitor the group for safety as they attempt the activity.
  8. If participants get stuck, have the students circle up again. Here are some suggested questions to help guide the group back on track:*:
    • What is working?
    • What ideas have you not tried yet that someone suggested?
  9. If your group is still struggling OR if you feel your group would benefit from an additional challenge, present a variation provided on the next page.
  10. After the activity, move to the debriefing questions for discussion.

Activity Variations

  1. Provide a shorter lifeline to participants.
    Use your best judgment. Pick a length that you know will challenge them further, but will not be impossible.
  2. Divide the group into smaller groups.
    Have the two groups start on opposite sides of the fence, each with their own lifeline. The groups need to switch places.

Debriefing the Activity

Use these debriefing questions as a guide for your discussion. Select the questions you feel will best benefit your group. It is not mandatory to cover every question. If possible, record the group’s responses on flip chart paper so all comments are displayed. Make sure to let everyone share their ideas, and remind participants that everyone’s opinions and feelings are important!

Base questions for debriefing:

  • This activity is called “Amoeba Electra Fence.” An amoeba is a single cell organism. What can a team learn from this single-celled organism?
  • How did you feel when you first saw the fence?
  • What can the lifeline represent for you?
  • How did you feel while you were completing the activity?
  • What was one of the challenges of doing this activity?
  • What did the group have to do or believe to be successful?
  • How can you apply what you just learned in this activity to other challenges you face in your life?

If the group was unable to complete the task in the given time:

  • Since you were not able to solve the problem, does it mean your group is a failure? (Push the group to respond with more than a “yes” or “no” and to instead point out and discuss what they learned.)

Additional questions: Choose which ones are the most appropriate:

  • What was one positive thing that happened during the challenge?
  • What advice would you give to another group working on this activity?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • What did a fellow team member do that was really helpful?
  • Did you try different ideas? If so, why did you change your approach?
  • What was one thing that surprised you?

Close on a Positive Note

Sum up the different ideas and feelings that you heard expressed, and restate ideas and learning moments the participants shared. Then, read the Risk Taking Note out loud again, and ask people to discuss what they think this note means. Discuss what they thought it meant at the beginning and what they think it means now.

* (ˆ) Do not provide the participants with answers. Allow them to work together.