Warp Speed

Warp Speed

Approximate Running Time: 10-15 minutes plus

Minimum Group Size: 3 people

Maximum Group Size: 100+ people (divided into smaller groups of up to 10 participants each)

Age/ Level: Grade 3+

Space Required: Enough space for groups of up to 10 participants to make a circle, with space between the groups.


1 stopwatch per group

– 1 tennis ball per group

– 1 piece of paper/ whiteboard

– markers/ pens



Lay out tennis balls and stopwatches, 1 per group, throughout the activity space.



The objective of this activity is for participants to collaborate in their groups and effectively strategize and communicate to pass the ball as quickly from person-to-person as possible.


Facilitator Guidelines:

1.  Ask the participants to make a circle with their group. Ensure that each group has a stopwatch and ball.

2. Invite each group to select one person to be their official timekeeper. The timekeeper must be honest and fair. Remind the groups that this activity is not a competition between the groups, it is a competition within their group. 

3.  Inform the groups that “NASA has hired you to work on a project to determine the best way to move a ball as fast as possible, at “warp speed”.

4.  Tell the participants that in order to be successful they must follow these guidelines:

a)  The ball must start and end with the same person

b)  The ball must be in motion at all times, it cannot touch the ground

 c)  No one team member may keep possession of the ball

 d)  The ball must make contact (touch) with every team member at least once

5.  Give the groups time to plan, brainstorm, practice, and tell them that once they are ready the time trials will begin.

6.  Start the activity simultaneously for each round. Have the official timekeepers measure and record their team’s times.

7.  The activity ends when the time is up, or when the groups decide that they are satisfied with their times and they can    

go no further.


Facilitation Variations:

For small groups the facilitator may wish to be the official timekeeper for all of the groups.

In order to minimize inter-group competition, the total or average warp speed time can be added up for the entire group, and compared to other school’s total times or average times.


General Debrief Questions:

How did you complete the challenge?

What communication strategies worked well? What would you change if you could do it again?

How did your group decide which ideas to test?

Was there a single leader during the activity, or did multiple people contribute?


Notes – Safety, planning for groups, etc

A small group could potentially complete this activity in a very short time frame. Be prepared! Add variations, have them try another strategy, try blindfolding some participants, etc, etc.