Academic journal article Social Education

Bears in the Air: An Activity from Facing the Future

Academic journal article Social Education

Bears in the Air: An Activity from Facing the Future

Article excerpt

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In this lively activity, students experience the limits of success, redesign a system to improve efficiency, and begin to identify assumptions that drive human behavior. (2)

Required materials include a stuffed bear or other soft object suitable for tossing, a watch or stopwatch, an open space, and at least 30 minutes.

ACTIVITY:

1. Arrange your students so that they stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a circle. Stand in the circle with them and show them the stuffed bear or other object.

2. Tell students they are going to play a game in which they toss the bear around the circle. There are only two rules: (1) Everyone must touch the bear, and (2) Students must touch it in the same sequence each time they play.

3. Have everyone hold their hands out, ready to catch the bear.

4. Gently toss the bear to someone across the circle.

S. Ask that student to toss the bear to someone else and then drop his or her hands. (The last person tosses the bear back to you.)

6. Practice once so that students are comfortable repeating the sequence.

7. Now tell the group that you will time the activity to see how fast they can do it. (3)

8. Run the activity and time it. After this first round, tell students that you are sure they could do it faster. Run and time the activity a few more rounds. Once students reach a certain level of success, they will not get any faster without a system redesign. In fact, they may get sloppy and drop the bear or toss it too far in their attempt to go faster. This part of the activity models the concept of "limits to success."

9. Students may ask, or you may suggest, whether the arrangement (standing in a circle) may be changed. The answer is yes. Repeat the two rules (there were indeed only two) and invite students to suggest different designs and to test them one at a time. This part of the activity models the concept of "redesign. …

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