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Odyssey Blog: Obstacles and Pasta Breed Creativity

Fostering Collaboration and Teamwork While Breeding Creativity

September 25, 2012: Today we experimented with finding new twists to old ideas. Can we create a temporary work of art and an obstacle course that can tell a story? Of course we can! All the projects we work on foster collaboration and teamwork while breeding creativity.

Spontaneous Verbal Challenge:

You are in the operating room awaiting surgery. What would you not want to hear?

  • Oops
  • Which leg is it?
  • I hope I am in her will
  • Well, my shift is over.
  • I can't find my watch...
  • Did you remember to sew him up?
  • Wow, this is my first time trying this.

Think Outside the Box: Come up with a word that starts with the last letter of the word spoken by the person before you.

  • Box, x ray, yardstick, Katie, Ebola, Alcatraz, zebra, atmosphere, extendible ears, S.O.S., stratosphere, egg, glue, elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, Snoopy, yum, nocturnal, languid, deer, radiation, Neanderthal, lion, nut, turtle, envelope, egg roll, lane...
  • We could have gone around again and again!

Hands-on Challenge: Hula Hoop Toss

The entire group held hands and formed a big circle with three hula hoops hanging between arms. The challenge was to send them around the circle without letting go of your hands. This activity produced a lot of laughs! When they got the hang of sending the hoops around I upped the challenge by having them do the activity with the grace of dancers, in slow motion and finally as Oompa Loompas!

We watched a short video about the art work of Joe Castillo, sand artist. Art is often something we experience on the walls of museums or in print after it has been created. Castillo makes the creation of the art part of the spectacle. He creates the sand art on stage with music and he tells a story in sand. (He is also amazingly ambidextrous!) We discussed varies ways we can tell a story and we talked about creating art that was experiential. Then we broke into two groups in two different rooms.

Group One challenge: Create a piece of art that tells a story and present it to the other group. Castillo used sand as a temporary medium for his creation. They had the challenge to make their creation out of cooked pasta.

Group Two challenge: Create an obstacle course that tells a story, thinking of the layout as a work of art.
They had 45 minutes to create their work. Both groups did a fantastic job and completed the challenges in creative ways. The obstacle group discussed a couple of scenarios, (circus, going through the human body, Alcatraz) then settled on a course where the course builders were part of the course. The story became about someone escaping from Alcatraz, (a place that came up during our Think Outside the Box verbal challenge.) When Group One came into the course they had to wait in line and have their hands tied together before beginning. If they made it through the course their hands were liberated by a conveniently located thorn bush.

It was indeed experiential, although the experience was different for some. One participant thought the course was Azkaban, the Harry Potter prison, a scenario that worked equally well. The participants realized they had a better chance completing the course if they were barefooted since delicate foot work was required in some sections.

The pasta group had a rocky start due to location. The “canvas” (a board) they were creating their art on was up on a table and the first part of their time was spent dealing with the logistics of how they were all going to reach the project to work. When they chose to move their project to the floor, the plan started to flow. One person suggested an idea that they all liked and another elaborated on it and they were off. For their presentation they decided they wanted the other group seated in another room and the wanted to enter carrying their work. They presented their project, a universal story, Once Upon a Time written in spaghetti with smaller pasta scenarios around the edge. Eating the leftover pasta added greatly to the experiential part of their project!

Process is always an important part of these exercises and something we discuss at length afterward. Some young people are quiet as original ideas are generated but pipe up with minor ideas once things get started. Some listen and just begin working, some lead, some find specific areas to work on, some are keeping an overview in their minds and are concerned with the flow of the whole project. Some talk first, then build. Some build first then work it into an idea.

Do we always find ourselves playing the same role in groups or does it change?

We are Team Talking Stick.

-- Asha

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