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Thursday 26 April 2012

'Survival' or 'Bomb Shelter' activity for High School

I post a lot for Middle School and Elementary, but this activity is best with High Schoolers and is something I have participated in and facilitated with a class.

This activity is great for team building, discussion, learning to compromis and express opinions and various other things.

I have seen, done and heard of various adaptations, but the premise is the same... Small groups have a list of people and due to some catastrophe (terrorism, bio-hazard, world war etc) only some of those people can live (in the bomb shelter, survival cave, etc)

Groups need to reach a consensus on who is saved. They have a set amount of time to reach a consensus or no one will survive.

Here are the basics:

Materials: None, maybe paper and writing utensils and/or hand out / display describing the people.

Aims: Role-playing, group decision-making, group interaction, reaching consensus.

  1. Divide i class into small groups (smaller the group, easier to reach decisions often)
  2. Each group member adopts a specific role, usually an occupation (for example: a doctor, an athlete, a teacher, movie-star, mother, housewife, etc; these can be written out and picked from a hat). *Sometimes I omit assigning roles and just let them have a list of people they are dealing with.
  3. Tell groups they are in an air-raid shelter after an atom bomb has fallen, big enough and with enough air and food for only six people, therefore they must get rid of several members. *Again the catastrophe, # of people and so on vary
  4. Each group member must argue why he should be allowed to survive. A group decision must be reached for who goes and stays: no suicides or murder allowed. *If not assigning roles, they can discuss all options
  5. Set a time limit for the decision.
  6. Later discuss how the group interacted making the decision, whether each person played an active or passive role, how satisfied each was with his role, etc.

Variations: Instead of an air-raid shelter, have a life raft or desert island or space ship. Add incidents, accidents, rituals, funerals, ceremonies.

*There are so many variations, adjust for your group.

I love doing this activity because it is fun, it can be interesting to see how groups work through the problems and differences in opinions, you can assign roles or not which may change perspectives, discussion afterwards allows students to reflect on their decision making skills. Why did they make that decision, did they change their mind throughout process, how, why?

As a TTOC, this can be a great activity should you ever be in with no lesson plan or a lot of time come up. You can adjust to whatever time limit you wish, but be sure to make the # of people and survivors reasonable to discuss fully within the time limit you set.


Here is a prezi variation:

Here are some variations: