Thiagi Group

Bottle Tower

by . Last edit was almost 2 years ago
25 - 40 10 - 30
Teams of 4-5 members are competing to build the highest free-standing tower using empty water bottles and rope - a different version of the Marshmallow challenge.
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To explore various aspects of teamwork, planning, and delegation.


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  • One piece of rope approximately 10 metres long for each team
  • 10 or more water bottles for each team (Teams should have an equal number of water bottles)



Brief the teams. Give the following instructions:

  1. Each team is going to build a tall tower using water bottles and ropes. The team that builds the tallest tower will win the challenge.
  2. The tower you build should only use the water bottles and the piece of rope. It must be standing on its own, without anyone touching or holding the bottles or the rope. You may do whatever you want with the rope. However, you may not cut it.
  3. You have 5 minutes to plan what you want to do. During this planning period, you may touch the rope, but not the water bottles.

Start the tower building activity. After 5 minutes of planning, say “Go!” and ask the teams to begin their tower building activity. Announce a 10 minute time limit. Start a timer.

Conclude the activity. After 9 minutes have elapsed, give the teams a 1-minute warning. Conclude the activity at the end of 10 minutes.

Determine the winner. Identify the tallest free-standing tower. Lead a round of applause for the winning team.


Conduct a discussion by asking the following questions:

  • Did you have a plan? Explain your plan (or the reason for not having a plan).
  • How did you spend your planning time?
  • What roles did each team member take during the planning period? During the building period?
  • What problems did you encounter while planning and building your tower?
  • What creative techniques did you try?
  • How would you do this activity differently?
  • What can we learn from this activity?

Facilitator Notes

The rope makes it possible to build tall towers. The activity does not work well without the rope.

The idea behind the planning time is to encourage the team to develop a system for thinking through and discussing a problem. Walk around while they are planning and pay attention to the conversations, actions, and behaviours.


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