A Great Team-Building Activity: Toxic Waste Dump

We’re all familiar with the myriad of team-building activities and icebreakers out there. Generally speaking, these processes aim to strengthen interpersonal relationships between group members, break up the monotony, and get the creative juices flowing. Some require participants to disclose intimate information; others involve the successful completion of a particular group task.

If you are charged with facilitating or leading meetings, you have to try out one of my favorite team-building activities: Toxic Waste Dump. This inquiry-based, learning filled activity brings to life the whole we are smarter than me mentality. It truly requires a joint effort! What’s also interesting to see is the natural leader(s) that tend to emerge.


A can of highly toxic popcorn has contaminated a circle approximately 8 feet in diameter. The toxic area extends to the ceiling. If the poisonous popcorn is not transferred to a safe container for decontamination, the toxic popcorn will contaminate and destroy the population of the entire city. The popcorn is estimated to have a safe life of exactly 20 minutes before it explodes. Obviously, there is insufficient time to contact authorities and evacuate. Therefore, the lives of thousands of people are in your hands.


Teams must find a way to safely transfer the toxic popcorn from the unsafe container to the safe container, using only the materials provided. This includes a piece of rope (each approximately 7 ½ feet long) for each person, and a bicycle tire tube.

If this snippet of information about Toxic Waste Dump sounds intriguing, you can download detailed instructions for the process by clicking here.

If you do decide to try it out, I’d love to hear about your insights.



Toxic Waste Dump Instruction Source: Retrieved from
http://training.cuna.org/trainers/download/1659-TOXIC%20WASTE%20DUMP.doc on September 22, 2011


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