Traffic Jam

Type of Activity: Problem-Solving

Props Needed: 1x12 foot tarp, plastic squares, or marker cones.

Set Up: This activity can be done with a variety of tools.  The most challenging option is the 1x12 foot tarp.  Leave one square open in the middle.  If you are using plastic squares or marker cones, give each participant a marker cone or plastic square and ask them to stand on the square or beside the marker cone.  Line them up in semi-circle formation with one extra spot in the center of the semi-circle.

Process: Each person occupies one of the ‘spaces’ with a empty space in the middle (half group on one end, half on the other).  Have everyone face the center spot.  Using the following *moves, people on the left side of center must end up in the places on the right side, and vise versa.

Legal moves:

1.   A person may move into an empty space in front of him/her.

2.  A person may move around a person who is facing him into an empty space.

Illegal moves:

1.  Any move backwards.

2.  Any move around someone facing the same way you are; i.e., you are looking at their back.

3.  Any move which involves two persons moving at once.

This can be a very frustrating event for some groups.  It may need to be halted at some point and then debriefed. (See next page for solution)

Variation: For those groups that need an extra challenge, have them do this activity on the TP Shuffle tarp that is also in this kit.  Require the group to remain on the tarp at all times.  They are not allowed to step onto the ground to make their moves.  Ask the group to find out how fast they can do it (can they do it while holding their breath)? Can they do it without speaking?

Debriefing Topics:

  • How many people got frustrated during this activity?  Why?
  • How did the group communicate during the problem solving stage?
  • How is this puzzle like school? Work? Home?
  • What do you want to remember about this activity?

For resources see:  Silver Bullet, Poly Squares,  Poly Spots

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