Activity 24: Toxic Gas Leek


  • Brainstorm and share problem-solving strategies to duplicate a structure
  • Work together to take an idea and make it a reality
  • Discuss their experience and feelings

Character Focus



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

  1. Place the Risk Taking Note into an envelope.
  2. Create a circular boundry using the rope.
  3. Create two piles of Toobeez, with each pile containing the exact same pieces (colors do not have to match). Place one pile inside the roped-off area and the other pile on the outside of the roped-off area
  4. Outside the roped-off area, create a structure (example: a cube) using all or some of the pieces. This structure, “Structure A,” will be the structure the group will duplicate

The Challenge

Use the Toobeez pieces inside the roped area to duplicate the Toobeez structure outside the roped area.

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.

  • Some people can get carried away with holding their breath, and they may get close to passing out. Remind people not to stay in the roped-off area too long (that is, don’t hold your breath too long!)
  • Follow general safety procedures

Helpful hints

  • The more complicated Structure A, the more difficult the challenge
  • This activity is more difficult than it appears. It may be helpful to allow the group to cycle through all the team members and then provide them with one additional trip
  • Allowing the group the opportunity to design the structure they must duplicate can be very empowering. This offers windows of opportunity to discuss topics such as “how to select the level of challenge that promotes the greatest growth”

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:
    “Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.” - Kobi Yamada
  2. Share the following storyline with group.
    The structure that you see has a gas leak of laughing gas! If this gets out, everyone will not be able to do anything but laugh! Your team must repair the gas container by duplicating the supplied pipe structure, and you must do this in the toxic laughing gas environment. Time is running out. Good luck!”
  3. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.
    Challenge: Use the Toobeez pieces inside the roped area to duplicate the Toobeez structure outside the roped area. Follow the guidelines below:
    • Participants may only use the Toobeez inside the roped area
    • The finished structure must be an exact duplicate of Structure A in its shape (colors do not have to match)
    • Each person is allowed one trip into the roped area
    • When inside the roped area, you must keep your eyes closed
    • No one on the outside may reach inside the roped area
    • Team members can only stay inside the roped area for as long as they can hold their breath
    • The boundary rope may not be moved
    • 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. The team has 20 minutes for this task, and the facilitator will track the time.
  7. 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?
  8. 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.
  9. After the activity, move to the debriefing questions for discussion.

Activity Variations

  1. Keeping your eyes open.
    For younger age groups, you may want to allow them to keep their eyes open when they travel inside the roped off area (while keeping the breath holding rule).
  2. Add a stopwatch.
    Replace the “hold your breath” rule with a stopwatch. Participants may only stay inside the roped-off area for a maximum of 30 seconds.

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:

  • What did you just do together?
  • How did you feel while you did the activity?
  • What was one positive thing that happened during this activity?
  • What was one of the challenges of doing this activity?
  • What did the group have to do or believe to be successful?

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.)
  • How did you feel while you did the activity?

Additional questions: Choose which ones are the most appropriate:

  • The rule of “only one trip inside the rope boundary” challenges the groups. What tends to happen is the people with little patience quickly take their turn without much planning (later reporting that they “wasted their turn”). On the other end of the spectrum, there is the person who waits and plans and waits and plans and then runs out of time without ever taking a turn inside. When I see this pattern, I’ll ask the group the following questions: When is it time to take action? When is it time to think and plan?
  • How do you feel now?
  • What advice would you give to another group working on this activity?
  • Did you try different ideas? If so, why did you change your approach?

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.