Marshmallow Challenge for Linux Programmers


Tom Wujec gave an interesting TED talk about training people in team-work and engineering through building the tallest possible structures from 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of string, and 1 yard of sticky-tape with a time limit of 18 minutes [1]. The project is completed by groups of four people – which is probably about the maximum number of hands that you could have on such a small structure at one time. They have a web site which gives some suggestions for conducting a challenge.

One interesting point made in the talk is that kindergarten students tend to do better than most adults.

I think it would be good to have such challenges at events such as Linux conferences. The type of people who attend such conferences tend to enjoy such challenges, and it may lead to some lessons in team-work that can help the software development process. Also we can discover whether Linux programmers are better than the typical kindergarten students. ;)

3 thoughts on “Marshmallow Challenge for Linux Programmers”

  1. I wonder if in metric countries (where you get 10 centimeters (11%, but that is irrelevant) more string and tape, it would have gone better for the engineers :-)

  2. jldugger says:

    I wonder if TED has video of the first presentation from the (former) Palm CEO who supposedly invented this challenge. I assume he has something to say on the subject of programmers versus managers.
    Sadly, the website advertised in this video is not very finished. The blog’s RSS 404s, for example.

  3. etbe says:

    Edwin: Well you can still measure a “yard” in metric countries. Almost all rulers and tape-measures sold in Australia have metric on one side and imperial measurements on the other – there’s nothing else to print on the other side so there’s no reason not to.

    jldugger: If the talk in question is any good then it will go online eventually. Last I heard they were still working through a backlog of content. I’m not sure if they completed the task of getting everything they wanted online before they went back and re-did some of the talks in HD.

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