Activity 8: Foggy Bridge Building


  • Brainstorm and share creative problem-solving strategies to build each group’s bridge section
  • Communicate with the other team
  • Listen to each other
  • Discuss the experience and their feelings

Character Focus



Time: 5 minutes
1 Toobeez set (divide pieces equally between teams)
1 tarp or curtain
1 envelope
chart paper (optional)

  1. Place the Risk Taking Note into an envelope.
  2. Divide the Toobeez, giving half to each team.
  3. Hang up a large opaque tarp or blanket. On each side, measure out from the curtain the length of one long and one short Toobeez tube. Affix a piece of masking tape to the ground to mark this point (as pictured)

The Challenge

Two bridge-building teams must build their portion of the bridge so that when the curtain is removed, one Toobeez tube can be added to form one bridge.

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.

  • Follow general safety procedures

Helpful hints

  • This is an advanced activity that requires an amazing amount of crystal clear communication and patience between the two bridge building teams
  • If you have a sophisticated group, this activity will likely provide them a great deal of information, which is worth discussing and analyzing. Be prepared to discuss non-success because this is common
  • This activity pushes groups that have not been working well together to find some common ground

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:
    “A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.” - Norman Shidle
  2. Share the following storyline with group.
    Two teams are working to build a bridge together when a big fog moves in. As a result, the teams are not able to see the other’s work. You must keep building and find a way to make sure that you will be able to connect both parts of the bridge with just one extra tube when the fog lifts.
  3. Read aloud the following Activity Challenge Box to the group.
    Challenge: Two bridge-building teams must build their portion of the bridge so that when the curtain is removed, one Toobeez tube can be added to form one bridge. Follow the guidelines below:
    • No bridge supports can be used on the ground between the tape and the curtain
    • Teams can not look on the other side of the curtain
    • Nothing may touch or move the curtain
    • Team members are allowed to communicate verbally only
    • If any guidelines are broken, the group must begin again
  4. Explain to the team that the curtain represents the fog that plagues this bridge building effort, and the tape represents the river bank.
  5. Before the participants attempt an activity challenge, have the group work through the following six steps:
  6. 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
  7. Teams should arrange themselves on opposite sides of the curtain.
  8. There is no predetermined structure. That is, your groups do not have to build the structure like the one pictured in this guide. Through communication, the groups will build an original structure, but both of their structures must match.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. After the activity, move to the debriefing questions for discussion.
  12. When time is up, the curtain will be pulled away and the teams will be given one opportunity to insert (place) one piece of Toobeez into the two bridge sections, and thus, completing the bridge.
  13. After the activity, move to the debriefing questions for discussion.

Activity Variations

  1. Test the bridge’s strength.
    Once the final piece is inserted to finish the bridge, test it to see how strong it is (how much weight it can hold).

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:

  • How did you feel when you first started to build your half of the bridge?
  • What was one of the challenges of doing this activity?
  • What advice would you give to another group working on this activity?
  • How did clear communication help you and your group during this activity?
  • How can you apply what you just learned to other challenges you face?
  • What surprised you about this activity?

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?
  • How do you work to keep improving your work with others?
  • 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.