New for 2016 – to see the older version with additional lesson details, please visit my post from last year.
Before starting the activity, I set the stage that they are a group of archeologists and have discovered an ancient tablet at an archeological dig site. Unfortunately, the tablet is broken and as they excavate, they only find a few pieces at a time. What does the ancient table say? Scientists all over the world try to decipher the ancient text…
Words to cut apart (pdf) – this year I removed the word “bone” to change it up a little
white paper cut into 1/4ths or small index cards
This year, I wanted to try something different for this lesson. Instead of seeing how close each group came to the original phrase that was on the “tablet”, I wanted each group to analyze the findings from the other groups to compare their findings and look for similarities and differences. This would be similar to a gallery walk (see video below) but without students explaining their posters, they would view posters at their own pace and choose any 3 posters to compare for each category.
Note – this lesson plan is a modification of the original lesson plan from The University of California Museum of Paleontology (link)
Students will collaborate, problem solve, and persevere to accomplish each challenge
Materials – per group of 3-4 students
Task Cards – cut apart, laminate, and secure with a metal ring or brass brad
1 rubber band
4-6 pieces of string of equal length
This is one of the team building exercises I plan to use with my 6th graders during the first week of school. Many variations of this lesson can be found online. For this version, I created 6 different challenges for the students to tackle – each one increasing in difficulty. Not every group will get to complete all 6 challenges, and that is OK. The objective is to learn to work together as a team and not give up.
July 26, 2017 – One recommendation I have for this activity is placing the cups on the floor, when the cups fall off the table it makes it more difficult to complete the task in a timely manner.
Updated: Pictures September 2015
Discussion & Reflection
Which challenge was the easiest for you group to complete? The most difficult? Why?
Did your techniques change as you advanced to each challenge? Explain why or why not.
Describe a technique that worked best within your group.
Compare using two hands vs. one hand when holding the string to guide the cups. List advantages and disadvantages for each.
Compare using verbal and nonverbal communication, what were some of the challenges your group faced?
If you were to complete this activity again, what would your group do differently? What would you do the same?
Why are collaboration and communication skills important characteristics for scientists to have?
Did you feel like giving up at any point? How did you and your group deal with frustration?