It's a great cognitive challenge, bringing to the forefront participants who live more in their logical brain. (Over the years I added 'Shooting Start' after a group solved the puzzle - "How fast can you make the 5-pointed star?" Increased risk, clear roles and responsibilities, and competitive (lower the time). NOTE: To date I've clocked groups at under five seconds.
All that being said (and you know I love diving into "all that"), I'm now playing with other gram-shapes. The first new one I tried was this heptagram (at right). It has a wonderfully simple solution, just like the pentagram: From a (rope) circle the group moves to a figure eight, then folds over the figure eight and pulls the five points (pentagram). Look at the diagram of the heptagram and discover how you can 'unfold' the lines into a figure eight. (Pull down the top point or vertex.) The main difference will be the need for seven vertex's. So, play with a group of seven to nine participants.
The only other one I've tried is another version of a heptagram. This one took longer to solve and with all the crossing intersections our 50-foot rope shape got pretty small (tighter fit between players). When I try this one again, I'm going to go with a 100-foot rope (two 50-footers tied together). I'm guessing it will change the communication dynamics a bit?
While researching geometric shape names I came across a couple more I want to try. How about this octagram (right)? Again, with more vertex's, I'll use a longer rope (e.g., 75 to 100 feet). Thinking through - we'll need at least eight, no more than 10 participants. NOTE: When there are more people than vertex's the 'non-point' players find a place along a line to hold the rope. They need to understand their role and responsibility just like everyone else.
And then there's one I found I'm really excited to try - specifically when I have three groups working on the challenge. The Nonagram (I'm thinking of calling this the "No-Way-Nagram"). Each group has a 50-foot rope with nine to 12 participants. After giving the challenge (and a diagram of the nonagram), I'll let them work on it. Then, maybe 10 to 15 minutes in, I might drop some suggestions about collaborating with other groups. How they interpret collaboration is up to them.
Let me know what you think and tell me how it goes when you try these challenges! (I'm now working on the idea of three-dimensional rope shapes??)
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D