Take It and Make It

This Wannabees activity focuses on sophomores and targets English language skills.

Participating students work in teams and use a bag of popular arts/crafts materials to create a miniature of an animate or inanimate ‘thing’ that would be found in the country, city, or suburbs. For example, using the materials they receive, students can build a cow, an automobile, or a miniature Statue of Liberty.

Student ‘creation’ teams select the object to be reproduced, construct a miniature of same, and then write a set of directions using only mathematical measurements, names of shapes, colors if necessary, and directions for putting pieces together. Creation teams will provide instructions for reproducing the object they built, but cannot use any language that actually describes the item.

The ‘reconstruction’ team must duplicate what the ‘creation’ team built originally without ever seeing the item. The reconstruction team will receive a bag of identical materials used by the creation team, and duplicate the item by only reading the directions provided by the creation teams. Points are awarded for difficulty levels involved in creating/reconstruction the item. 

The process emphasizes the need for strong reading and writing skills. Students ‘win’ the game if the reconstruction team can recreate the ‘thing’ made by the creation team using only the written directions.

Technical writing is an in-demand skill, but one that few students cultivate because most writing in school does not demand the level of skill that creates good technical writers. Teams compete — only one team wins. But all realize how very hard it is to write directions. That’s why people who are good technical writers make significant salaries.

The game winds up with a discussion about the law of supply and demand as it pertains to one’s proficiency in language and the search for available jobs.