Back in 2012 I shared Pipeline: Variation. In the post I included all the different materials and transportable objects I've seen being used for this classic activity. The basic idea is to move objects (most often round ones) from one point to another.
I also noted, it was the first (adventure-based) team building activity I learned (after the ice breakers of course) when I took my first Project Adventure training. Pipeline is still one of the most universal activities I know - it works with almost any age group (I've done it with Kindergartners using foam noodles) and any sized group (I've done it with over 100 participants all moving objects to the same destination). And the story continues....
Since moving to Colorado I've been doing some engaging contract work for Deb & David of Experiential Learning Associates. They showed me their version of Pipeline. They call it Bridges. Watching Deb present the activity to four classes of 5th graders, she told them the tools they would be using for the activity were bridges. She asked the students, "What do bridges do?" Some responses included, "They take us over dangerous things." "They save us time so we don't have to go around gorges and rivers." "They connect one place to another." I really liked hearing how the students were "connecting" to the activity right away. (I like the potential of this frontload for a metaphorical conversation about what "bridges" participants have in their lives - we didn't take this direction the day I saw Deb present this.)
Then Deb set up the idea of working together to move one marble from one point of the field to a bucket out in the field. First they worked together as independent classes and then, eventually, created one (super) long line of four classes to move one marble into the bucket. (The theme of the day included accomplishing things together.)
During this extravaganza, I saw a lot of participation within the individual classes. They split up into two or three groups in order to practice moving marbles. Then, when they all came together I was a little skeptical. I wasn't sure how engaged the students would be. As it turned out every one of the students did roll the one marble along their bridge at least once then I watched them head to the end of the line to see the end result. Since the marble movement didn't last too long it seemed they were engaged enough to all join in on the celebration after the marble finally made it into the bucket.
The (brief) processing session after the activity came back around to working together and what this looked like. Everyone had a small part in accomplishing a "big" task. It was mentioned that, "You might not always have the most exciting part of a task - like dropping the marble into the bucket - but your part is important to keep everything moving forward." A nice wrap up for 120 5th graders.
And then there were those words! As we were cleaning up our gear I asked Deb about the words written on the bridges. (Notice some examples in the picture above.) She said they are used as a processing (debriefing) tool. Participants can speak to the word/phrase they have on their bridge after the activity (or any activity really), or use another word/phrase they see being held up by someone else in the group. They are nice prompts to get people thinking and talking. I instantly fell in love with the added versatility of the bridges (Pipeline sections).
Within a few days I pulled out 12 of my wooden (corner molding) Pipeline pieces and added some character trait words (pics below). A quick search lead me to the Vocabulary.com site with a list of 74 character traits. Here are the 12 more positive traits I'm going to try out, predicting I'll add more in the near future: Brave, Serious, Resourceful, Respectful, Honest, Helpful, Leader, Cooperative, Determined, Energetic, Calm, Tolerant. I'll let you know how it goes and where I go with it.
Thanks Deb & David for sharing the cool idea.
Let me (and Deb & David) know how this works for you and what word/phrases you choose to use on your bridges! Leave us a Comment below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known author, speaker, and trainer in the area of adventure-based activity programming and its relation to community and pro-social behavior development.
This blog is a space for hands-on programable fun - energetic activities and ideas that can be used as a means to bring people together; activities and ideas we as educators can add to our social development curriculums.