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Childish Stuff

Work-break Challenges

Someone's taking a break... We all have to take a break from work every now and again - some more than others. But let's face it, standing around drinking coffee in the office kitchen isn't exactly the most exciting thing in the world to do with your work-breaks, is it? This page is for those people who fancy a different kind of challenge. And by different, I mean silly and childish.

These challenges aren't intended to be achieved in just the one break - it may take weeks, or even months to complete them. It's not a race, so don't spend a whole day on one of them and then blame me when you get the sack, OK?

By the way, if your boss turns up suddenly while you're in the middle of a challenge, claim that they are part of a "Team Building Exercise". You might just get away with it.


The Challenges

  1. Build a Cup Tower
  2. Demolish the Cup Tower
  3. Chime the hour with a Paper Lazer
  4. Invent a Difficult Ball Game
  5. Kill Mr. Funny

Challenge Failures

  1. Make a wind-up box
  2. Play 3-pin bowling
  3. Bicycle Pump Blow Football

Build a Cup Tower

The challenge

A great big tower. Made of cups. The idea here is to collect empty plastic vending machine cups from around the office, and build a stupidly tall tower. You'll probably find that a single column becomes too unstable after a while, so we recommend that you build multiple towers and attach them together somehow.

Our solution

After experimenting for a while, we found that three tall columns surrounded by three more shorter ones was a good stable design. The tower attaching method to employ was a little more tricky, however. Paper clips just pinged off, and using bits of paper that attached pairs of columns together resulted in a very shaky tower. Eventually, we decided that an equilateral triangle made of paper would be ideal, as it would bind three columns at once. We didn't have a protractor or compass to make the triangle, so an origami method was required. A quick web search later, and we had the specification we needed. The central tower was constructed in modules - each module was made from 30 cups split into 3 stacks, attached together using a paper triangle.

I think the resulting tower was quite impressive - you can see it on the right, next to a helicopter to provide a sense of scale...

A prize for the best cup tower in the office -
      since the last one... Here we are congratulating ourselves in a special presentation ceremony. We made it up just for this picture.

Demolish the Cup Tower

The challenge

Take the cup tower you created in the Build a Cup Tower challenge, and destroy it utterly. It must be done in the most creative and spectacular way possible.

Our solution

When we attempted this challenge, we had the advantage that we were about to move office, so there were lots of crates around that were stuffed with heavy books and folders. We also had Phil Reynolds (wearing the light-blue T-shirt in the presentation picture above), who was so committed to making the, er, demolishment as impressive as possible that he went out and bought a bungee cord complete with hooks, and a ball of string.

The idea was to attach the tower to the bungee cord via a piece of string. The bungee cord was held under tension between two crates. It was attached to crate 1 by a firing pin, which was attached to another piece of string - all we had to do was pull on this and the pin would release the bungee, which would pull the tower down (see the diagram below). Simple. Phil stepped up to do the honours, knowing that we would have just one chance to pull it off...

A professionally drawn technical diagram. Or something.

...and it worked. Perfectly. It's such a shame that the photographer forgot to bring his camera in that day. Sorry, Phil.


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Page last updated:
Monday, Apr 14 2003
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