The Helium Stick

Team Building Activity

Watch this video for a demonstration.
Materials needed:
  • 1 long stick or a PVC pipe and put a golf ball in it (this is super tricky as the ball rolls out really easily so it's important that each team member keeps it super level as they lower it).
  1. Arrange participants in a line opposite one another and have them put their pointer fingers out zipper style at about chest height. Place the stick across everyone's fingers. You may consider using a longer tent pole as it bends and you emphasize that the pole must remain straight and level*.
  2. Explain that it is super easy and all the participants have to do is lower the stick to the ground. 
  3. While this is happening, share a a number of metaphors about what the stick represents (perhaps it's a student(s), friend, family, etc., that must be cared for and that the successful completion of the activity demands the collaborative efforts of each team member. If one participants's finger comes off the stick, you must start over (roughly at chest height). Keep emphasizing (or adding stress to) the participants. 
  4. You'll see the stick rises (like it's filled with helium) as everyone displays care for the stick and wants to remain in contact with it. It becomes pretty hard to lower the stick collectively as everyone cares to deeply for the stick and wants to move down at their own pace but can't because everyone else might have their own pace. Usually, you'd have two teams doing this and its a race to see which team can successfully lower the stick the ground first.
  5. Ask a number of debriefing questions afterward like how each person felt, what was frustrating, who the stick represented to them, why is collaboration important, does everyone really need to be involved, what does each person bring to the table?