Knot the Human String (aka) Human Overhand Medium to large groups Set up – Participants line up, side-by-side

, facing front. Ideally, there shouldn’t be more than fifteen participants per line. Provide each participant with a length of ribbon or rope (approximately 18 to 24 inches long). Place the end of one ribbon in a participant’s hand and the other end of the same ribbon in the hand of the person who is standing next to them. In this way, create a human chain: participant – ribbon – participant – ribbon – participant – ribbon – participant – ribbon – participant The ribbon in the middle of the line, should be a different color than the rest of the ribbons. The goal – For the group to tie an overhand knot in the different colored ribbon without breaking the chain. Parameters – 1. The appropriate knot is a pure overhand knot (for you knot experts, this is not an overhand on a bite, nor knot tied around someone’s arm or wrist). 2. The chain cannot be broken. Cutting the ribbon or doing bodily harm to group members is not fair play. 3. Optional parameter – turn some participants so they are facing a different direction than the rest. This changes their perspective. Include more than one off-colored ribbon to add to the challenge. Real Safety Issues – For the most part this activity doesn’t require significant physical effort. However, it does occasionally require participants to enter one another’s personal space. Also, allow participants to shift the ribbon in their hands rather than twisting wrists in ways they aren’t designed to be twisted. Debrief – This activity can go a number of ways. It often brings up issues of problem solving and leadership. Because it appears so simple on the surface yet often confounds groups be prepared to debrief groups that don’t successfully complete the challenge. Note: This can be very frustrating. Let students struggle for a while then stop them and show them a knot being tied in a string in slow motion. As corny as it may sound, “Be the rope!”, can help students think about what needs to get done. Roles can be dependent on position. Have students switch positions part way through. “Did your position on the rope change your involvement?” At a retreat, a group of seven Grade 8’s solved this and then, after practicing a bit, came to me and said they could do it in 19 seconds. I asked them to prove it in front of everyone and they pulled it off in 14 seconds! It was like watching a dance with each student understanding their role in the choreography.