Surprise and Play

Incorporating elements of surprise, play, and humour

In order to get into a creative mindset that approaches problems in new ways, it’s helpful to incorporate elements of surprise, play, and humour into the Makeathon. Not only does it help make the Makeathon more engaging, enjoyable, and memorable, it also lets our brains know that it’s ‘playtime’ - and so we can have fun with ideas and not just follow the more conservative and logical approaches that we might think of in more serious contexts. Here are some ways you can incorporate these elements:

  1. Surprise challenges: Introduce surprise challenges or mini-competitions throughout the Makeathon to keep participants engaged and energised. For example, you could challenge teams to create a prototype using only recycled materials or give them a timed challenge to create a solution in a limited amount of time.

  2. Playful environment: Create a playful environment by adding fun and interactive elements to the Makeathon. For example, you could set up a photo booth with props or have a game corner where participants can take a break and play a quick game. We often give students balloons or bubble mixture to all participants without explanation so that they switch into a more playful mode. They may not immediately see the connection with the serious global challenges they are working on, but it makes a tremendous difference to the kind of thinking they bring to those challenges.

  3. Humorous elements: Add humorous elements to the Makeathon to lighten the mood and keep participants engaged. For example, you could create a funny mascot for the event, or provide participants with a range of silly costume hats to wear. Naming their groups provides a simple way to inject fun and humour into the event.

  4. Breakout sessions: Incorporate short breakout sessions where participants can take a break from the challenge and participate in fun activities like a game of charades, or a scavenger hunt. At the very least, have them move around from time to time. One activity we use is to have the students see how far away they can get from where they are sitting, and return to it within 30 seconds. They should try and get further each time you do this.

  5. Music: It’s often helpful to have music on in the background while students work to keep them energised and engaged. In breaks, you could even have a dance-off competition or an informal karaoke session.

  6. Prizes and rewards: While we consider it important that the Makeathon is not seen as a competition, you can offer spot prizes and surprise rewards for the most creative, innovative, or successful solutions. We always find something in each team’s work that is worthy of an award - even if it’s something absurd (eg: “largest prototype” or “most colourful solution”). You can be creative and also reward the teams for the things they seem to be most proud of as they develop their work. Prizes can be symbolic and silly - such as a found or recycled object (MTF students have won old lamps and umbrellas) or you can create a trophy or customised t-shirts.

By incorporating surprise, play, and humour into your Makeathon, you can create a fun and engaging environment that encourages participants to be creative, take risks, and enjoy themselves.

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