Scrimmages are in the center of our Maker Learning Matrix. Scrimmages in sports are the full-go practice version of a real game. Players use this time to test out their individual skills, their ability to collaborate with other team positions and their ability to apply learned methods to new and changing situations. Coaches use this time as a formative assessment to see where they need to concentrate more work. Scrimmages provide instant feedback and immediate opportunities to adjust behavior.
In the maker-world, scrimmages come in the form of what Destination Imagination calls Instant Challenges. These are very quick challenges with a purpose to use the skills and behaviors of design & collaboration to solve a particular problem. They afford opportunities to develop the language and behavior of high-functioning collaborative teams. Participants learn to quickly recognize and define the problem at hand, develop and iterate rapid solutions and to pull it together quickly in order to present the solution – the “launch”.
It is necessary, as with all scrimmages, to spend time reflecting afterward in order to help team members understand where their collective strengths, weaknesses and opportunities lie and what can be done to improve. A process of challenge, reflect and repeat is a powerful tool for building the skills of innovation.
Often when I am asked about starting a makerspace I start with these maker scrimmages. The limited tools and resource constraints ensure the challenges are approachable and scalable. They can be done with one kindergarten team or shared across a full banquet hall full of adult teams in a team-building session. The energy and resulting team dynamics look the same at either end of the spectrum.