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  Helium Stick & Facilitation Notes

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Helium Stick & Facilitation Notes

Product Code #: GAMEHLM

Make a point about teamwork and cooperation -- instantly!

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A simple, powerful and QUICK team experience!

This deceptively simple game is easy to facilitate and gives your group a common experience through which to discuss issues of teamwork and leadership.

The "stick" is actually a series of corded tent poles that fold up easily, so you can easily transport it. When extended fully, it's 10 feet long.

How it's Played
Form two lines facing each other. Lay the "stick" on the group's index fingers.
Goal: Lower to ground.
Reality: It magically rises up!

  • Line up in two rows which face each other.
  • Introduce the Helium Stick.
  • Ask participants to point their index fingers and hold their arms out.
  • Lay the Helium Stick down on their fingers. Get the group to adjust their finger heights until the Helium Stick is horizontal and everyone's index fingers are touching the stick. Explain that the challenge is to lower the Helium Stick to the ground.
  • The catch: Each person's fingers must be in contact with the Helium Stick at all times. Pinching or grabbing the pole in not allowed - it must rest on top of fingers.
  • Reiterate to the group that if anyone's finger is caught not touching the Helium Stick, the task will be restarted. Let the task begin....
  • Warning: Particularly in the early stages, the Helium Stick has a habit of mysteriously 'floating' up rather than coming down, causing much laughter. A bit of clever humoring can help - e.g., act surprised and ask what are they doing raising the Helium Stick instead of lowering it! For added drama, jump up and pull it down!

How Does it Work?
The stick does not contain helium. The secret is that the collective upwards pressure created by everyone's fingers tends to be greater than the weight of the stick. As a result, the more a group tries, the more the stick tends to 'float' upwards

Some Processing Ideas:

  • What was the initial reaction of the group?
  • How well did the group cope with this challenge?
  • What skills did it take to be successful as a group?
  • What creative solutions were suggested and how were they received?
  • What would an outside observer have seen as the strengths and weaknesses of the group?

More Facilitation Notes... Download:

Group Size: 8 to 12 ideal, but can be done with 6 to 14
Time: Total time ~25 mins
~5 minute briefing and set up
~10-15 minutes of active problem-solving (until success)
~10 minutes discussion

NOTE: Color of tent poles may vary (black or gold), depending on availability.

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