Last month I attended a meeting of the Huntsville Madison Co Home Builder Association. Each month they meet to socialize and network with others locals in our field. This time they put on a little competition entitled “So You Think You Can Build”, where small teams had to try and make the tallest structure out of marshmallows and dry spaghetti.
First we divided our roles into building levels to be assembled at the end: Ernie was to build the top with tall spire, and Alan and I would build a large base, and braces to help it stand.
The time limit for the exercise was 90 minutes, by the time we started building we had 45 minutes. With 20 minutes left to go disaster struck: Everyone’s marshmallows started melting!
We had to change our strategy: As tall as possible, as quick as possible, as stable as possible. With 10 minutes to go, we started again, Ernie back on top and Alan and I getting as many levels as we could beneath.
We finished assembling our sections – which reached a little over 4 feet! Just in time to be declared the winners!
… And then it collapsed.
As well as being 45 minutes of good fun, it also served out a few life lessons that have stayed with me in the weeks since.
1. Give yourself plenty of time to complete your project. When you rush, bad things can happen.
2. It’s always better when you have a group that communicates and cooperates when plans change.
3. Know your goal! As an architect, I bring my creative side to a project, but this had a specific goal and I had to prioritize.
4. Practice makes perfect! Because we practiced at our office the week before our competition, I knew what our priority needed to be to accomplish our goal – win!!! The heat however, was not a known factor and because of it our structure failed moments after the competition was final. Fortunately, in real Architecture the diverse stresses on a structure are taken into account and products are used that can withstand them.
All these things increase the odds of success in life and in marshmallow buildings.
Oh, and the last rule of all: Don’t forget to keep your marshmallows cool!
Have your family make the biggest structure you can using marshmallows and dry spaghetti, and post a picture of your finished masterpiece on your Facebook page, tag us @Scott Wilson Architect LLC and hashtag it: #marshmallowbuilding.