Build a bridge activities are a popular team-building exercise used in workshops. The purpose of these activities is to improve collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. Participants must work together to build a freestanding bridge out of simple materials like toothpicks, straws, tape, and string within a set time limit.
To complete the build a bridge activity:
- Divide participants into small teams of 4-6 people.
- Provide each team with the same set of materials – usually toothpicks, straws, tape, string, and a base platform. The amount of materials should be limited.
- Explain that the goal is for each team to work together to build the tallest freestanding bridge possible that can support a small weight (e.g. a cup) in a set time, usually 15-30 minutes.
- The bridge must span between two chairs or tables and cannot be attached to any vertical support.
- When time is up, measure each bridge to determine the tallest successful structure.
The cost of materials is very low, usually less than $5 per team. Basic supplies like toothpicks, straws, tape and string are inexpensive and easily sourced.
- Building materials: toothpicks, straws, tape, string, paper cups
- Tables or chairs to support either end of the bridge
- Timer or stopwatch
- Measuring tape
- Small weights like paper cups to test load bearing
- 15 – 30 minutes for the building activity
- 15 – 30 minutes for debrief and discussion
Number of Participants
- Groups of 4-6 participants work best. Can accommodate any number by creating enough teams.
Best Suited For
The build a bridge activity works for all team sizes and industries. It is best for newer teams still developing working relationships or teams seeking to improve collaboration and communication.
The facilitator explains the activity, divides people into teams, distributes materials, times the building session, measures bridges, and facilitates debrief discussions. They may also provide guidance if any team is struggling.
Participants strategize, collaborate, problem-solve, and construct a freestanding bridge using the provided materials in the time allotted.
After the activity, the facilitator leads a debrief discussion using open-ended questions like:
- How did your team approach planning and coordination?
- What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
- How did you utilize each team member’s skills and strengths?
- If you did this again, how would you work together differently?
The build a bridge activity is an engaging and insightful team-building challenge. By reflecting on their experiences, participants gain perspective on collaboration, communication, leadership, problem-solving, and utilizing strengths of a team. This activity brings out key insights on working together effectively that teams can apply to real work projects.