Engineering Meets Dodgeball

Br. Lucio Boccacci offers ideas to engage young people in his blog. Below is an edited version of one of his recent installments.

I’ve heard of many team competitions: building the tallest marshmallow tower, making a contraption that will safely land an egg from three stories high, creating a boat to carry over 100 pennies, or pasting Popsicle sticks to make the strongest bridge.

These are great competitions for teens! These are miniature engineering activities that teens like to do with their friends during a youth night, retreat, camp or even school. They require teamwork, creativity, trial and error, communication, working under pressure, competition, and more. These create good discussions on teamwork and life lessons.

But I have found that adding one more component can bring this to the next level. 

It’s not enough to have teams of 5-10 teens working around a single project, as interesting as it maybe. This is especially true if the three smartest or bossiest kids on the team monopolize the project. The end result: the other teens on the team lose interest.

Unless you make these engineering challenges physical. This is where engineering meets dodgeball.

A team assigns its members different functions, as runners, builders and taggers. Runners grab resources while avoiding being tagged by other team members. Those who like to build can build, those who like to run and spend more energy can do so, and they can switch if they want to try something new. This adds a new element to teamwork and competition.

The possibilities are endless, and this is what makes it interesting for the youth minister!

I usually end my competitions with a debriefing session in small groups, asking them questions like: “what was difficult about this game?”, “what would you have done differently?”, “how does this game resemble real life or faith?”

These are great team building activities that also allow teens to spend their energy having fun! For ideas on types of games to try, go to my blog at and read my entry When Engineering Meets Dodgeball.

About Br Lucio Boccacci LC

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Br. Lucio’s family immigrated to the United States when he was six. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He finished a fourth year of internship in Chicago for the year 2012-13 working with the RC Missionaries. Visit where he shares ideas on youth ministry.
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