The County Fair
Here is a problem-solving activity for groups that can be accomplished even when participants are remotely located. Using the 13 clues provided, see if your group can solve the mystery of who baked each pie and which prize each pie won. Begin by emailing, texting or sharing each of the following clues
to a different member of your group. Then, using an audio or video conferencing app (such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, WeChat) see if your group can solve the mystery by working together.
A mystery presented in thirteen pieces!
The mystery presented here is in the form of a logic puzzle. The solution can be found using a Sudokulike grid with some combination of the three known factors: places 1 through 6, the names of the bakers and the six flavors of pie. One example is shown in the photo below, featuring the six flavors of pie on the horizontal axis and the five pie makers on the vertical axis. The potential places are then listed from the information provided (apple=1st prize, peach = 2nd prize, cherry = 6th prize, blueberry = 5th prize, leaving only 3rd and 4th prize. Chocolate placed one place higher than pecan, so chocolate = 3rd prize and pecan = 4th prize). Next, we need to eliminate some of the possibilities shown on the grid. Andy made the chocolate or pecan pie, eliminating all other fruit pie flavors for Andy (so we place X’s there). Sarah did not receive 1st or 6th prizes, so cross those off for her. Betty placed lower than Andy (so we can cross of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for her) and higher than Dave (so we can cross off 6th place as well). Betty placed lower than Andy (who either took 3rd or 4th prize), meaning Betty took 4th or 5th prize, and higher than Dave (who either took 5th or 6th prize). We know that the person taking 5th prize also takes 6th prize, so Dave is the double pie baker, winning 5th and 6th prizes. Ellen is the only pie maker left in the first column and wins 1st prize for her Apple pie. Betty wins 4th prize for her Pecan pie and Andy is one place above her, in 3rd place for his Chocolate pie. Leaving the final pie maker Sarah in 2nd place with her Peach pie.
You also have the option of providing a prompter card to the group, or you can let them figure out their own process.
Facilitating the Experience
Obtaining the correct answer for this mystery in thirteen parts is the ultimate goal of the activity, but along
the way, there are opportunities for additional teachable moments in group dynamics.
After completing the task, revisit the activity and discuss with the members of the group the following
- Did everyone have the opportunity to contribute to the success of the group?
- Was each person in the group heard by the other members of the group?
- Did a leader emerge during the completion of the task?
- What skills were required to complete the task?
- Was there a significant ‘break through’ moment when the solution became obvious?
- If you were to repeat a similar task, what would you do differently the next time?
- What advice would you give to another group working on a similar task?
You can also find this activity in the book Teambuilding with Index Cards (ISBN 978-1-5249-6498-6) by Jim Cain, available from www.training-wheels.com. This book contains many activities which can be presented in virtual space.