Team building sctivities

i was wondering what kind of short activities would be good for the beginning of team meetings for kids to learn how to work together as a team

Any sort of icebreaker
Friendly dodgeball or football games
Mini-competitions between small groups of team members (simple engineering challenges like “build the tallest structure using a 8.5x11in piece of paper and 3in of tape”)

There are a lot of team building activities at this site. My personal favorite is the human knot, which becomes extremely entertaining if lots of people are involved.

NEMO had a paper once on team building exercises (I think), but I couldn’t find it with a quick search. Kathie Kentfield has run great workshops on this - Kathie, can you help here?

You can find lots of excellent team building games/exercises simply by searching google for them. Try search terms like “Team building exercise” “teamwork games” and the like. There’s plenty of games out there that range in complexity, time, number of participants, etc.

I do have to say that the 2012 basketballs make a great dodgeball (we got tons from the competition we hosted.)

We had the awesome experience of having our major sponsor, The Bank & Trust, send their management team to us once a week during the build season. The management team used their company team building lessons to help Team 4063 bond.

I like team building activities that address our reason for being there: Engineering and problem solving.

  1. Engineering: Break the group up into teams of 4-6 people. Give each of them a 50-pack of balloons and a roll of tape, and see who can build the tallest free-standing tower.

  2. Engineering: Break the group up into teams of 4-6 people. Have them build a bridge out of tape and newspaper that allows some common object (like a cRio) to fit underneath, and see whose bridge can support the most weight (use commonly available textbooks as weights!)

  3. Problem solving: Select 2-3 “leaders” from the group and set them aside. This leaves a group size N. Draw N+1 circles on the floor, in a straight line. Place one person in each circle, with the circle in the middle open. Each half of the group faces the middle, and will always face in that directly (so if you’re facing left, you always face left). The goal is to get them to swap positions, so those that start on the left finish on the right. The rules: If there’s an open circle in front of you, you can move forward into it. If you are face-to-face with someone and there’s an open circle on the other side, you can leap-frog them to get to the circle. Those are the only two valid moves. The “leaders” can walk around and assist/direct the process. The group cannot leave their circles unless its to perform a valid move.

4: Problem solving: Create a human knot - stand in a circle, everyone reaches in blindly and grabs two other people’s hands. Now, untangle the knot!

At our first meeting of every fall, we do some sort of team-building exercise that also helps the newbies understand coopertition. My favorite is:
We split the kids up into 4 teams. We tell them that their goal is to get all the tennis balls we spread out over the floor into their hula hoop circle. After some time, they realize that if they’re all trying to get the balls into their hula hoop only, no one will ever get all of them.
Eventually someone thinks “Hey, what if we combined our hula hoops?”
When all four teams put their hula hoops together, and put the balls into the hula hoop, they all achieved the task- get all the balls into the hula hoop.
What the activity does is help the students think in a different manner than they’re used to. Instead of competing selfishly, they learn to win graciously.

  1. Find PVC pipe
  2. Slide pool noodles over the pipe
  3. Encourage students and mentors to work out their issues


I don’t know why, but I feel like team building exercises for the sake of team building don’t make sense. Furthermore, as some of what of an introvert, if I get thrown into a ‘team building’ exercise, I tend to turn inwards even more.

With that in mind, we build robots. If you’re a new student on our team, you’ll be putting together a VEX robot in the fall. The primary purpose of this is to get students acclimated to robots and robotics competitions. However, a side effect is that the students get close to the new members in their respective groups, their respective leaders, and the mentors.

Of course, VEX is a resource heavy endeavor. Do any other challenge (trebuchet, downhill kart, mousetrap cars, etc.) with the purpose of driving home engineering and competition. I possitive you’ll find students naturally pull closer in order to innovate and compete.

  • Sunny G.

Scroll down to the section on **Team Building **for some ideas.

What are the pool noodles for?:rolleyes:

I am a huge fan of the Marshmallow Challenge. I tried it with my team and it seemed to go over well!

It encourages people to work together and use limited resources creatively, but also the idea that you can’t underestimate things and that protoyping is important.


Yes, Carol, I’ve led lots of teambuilding sessions and will go anywhere within CT/Western MA to do them with teams at no charge.
Most of mine were done with things I’ve adapted from the Internet, and are copyrighted so I haven’t got a whitepaper of them.
Since I was never on a team for engineering reasons, I don’t often include those types of activities in my sessions. We’re not all engineering types on teams! :slight_smile: Problem-solving, yes.
I have posted my conference presentation on integrating introverts like me into your teams in the NEMO website. Teambuilding activities are particularly important for us introverts because being with others drains our energy - so we may naturally have an aversion to these types of events. However, it forces us to learn to work with others, and if done properly, also contains activities where we can work individually then come together as a team.

Honestly if ur team does FLL, take a couple mindstorms kits for a day set up some lil teams with students, make them build/program/compete the FLL challenge. Teaches them about teamwork and FIRST all at the same time!

A warning about team building activities/icebreakers and kids:

Many of these kids have “done them all” when it comes to these activities, and will be less than enthused to participate. If the team leaders aren’t willing to be enthusiastic and positive when doing the activities, they won’t be beneficial.

It is just as important that the mentors take part in these activities as the kids if you are trying to build a team. I think a team barbecue is a very beneficial event. Ask some of the older students to reach out to the younger ones who may be shy or secluded. Same goes for parents, get them involved and socializing.

Another thing that I think helps is to have a non-robotics event during the meetings. We often play basketball or dodge ball. Another one that works well is to create a mock game field and have humans play as robots. It’s fun, goofy and you may learn something about the game. I suggest you do these events one or two times a week.