Classroom Exercise

Worst Case Scenario Exercise

Worst case scenario exercise
Written by Lindsay Price

How does your class collaborate in a crisis?

To collaborate is to work together as a group to produce something. In this case, each group has to work together to create a list. But it’s not just any list, it’s a list of “must haves” under an extreme circumstance. How does your class collaborate in a crisis? It’s time to find out.

Divide students into groups. Explain to them they are involved in “A Worst Case Scenario.” Give each group a situation: locked in a burning building. Trapped on a sinking ship. In a lifeboat after the ship has gone down. Stuck on a mountain with a looming avalanche. Crash landed on a desert island. In a jungle with predators behind and a river filled with piranha ahead.

The group has to decide on 5 must have items that will help them get to safety. The 5 items must come from a unanimous decision by the group. Everyone has to agree on the items.

How do the groups negotiate the list? Students may try to negotiate to get additional list items but be clear. It’s 5 and only 5.

Give groups a time limit to come up with the list. Start announcing that the surrounding danger (be it fire, lions, or an avalanche) is getting closer. And closer. Time is running out. Will the groups beat the clock?

At the end of the time limit, have groups present their lists. Discuss with the class. Are the list items useful? Surprising? Was the group able to agree on five items? Why or why not?

Do this exercise with a realistic scenario. Then repeat with a fantasy driven scenario. They are on Mars and there’s a leak in their domicile. The castle is being attacked by witches. They are underground in a fight to the death with the mole people. It’s the future and everyone is a robot. The robots are dealing with an acid raid storm. What items do they come up with under imaginary circumstances?

Click to download this exercise as a PDF!

About the author

Lindsay Price