What Happens When Compassion Meets Competition?

Guest Blog Post from Sara Schairer of CompassionIt.

Originally posted here: https://compassionit.com/2018/06/06/what-happens-when-compassion-meets-competition/

I teamed up with Gary Ware of Breakthrough Play and Jeff Harry of Play-Well TEKnologies for Global School Playday on February 7, 2018. We led a compassion- and play-focused experiment for High Tech High School 10th graders, because we were curious about the question,

What happens when compassion meets competition?

We each led students through 45-minute workshops. I focused on cultivating compassion, and during Gary’s workshop, students used improv and play to practice empathy, listening, and team-building.

Jeff led the final workshop. He loaded 10 tables with Legos, and he labeled each table as a different country. Some of the tables represented low-income nations, and some represented high-income nations.

The students formed teams and picked their tables. Jeff gave them written instructions, and he told them to “produce as much food as you can.” The students built conveyor belts out of Legos and then created “food” out of Lego bricks. When the food reached the end of the conveyor belts, students would collect it and stack it on their nations in the middle of the room.

What the students didn’t know is that the low-income countries weren’t given enough resources to complete the task. Some of them were missing parts to their conveyor belts, and others didn’t have enough bricks to create food.

The wealthier nations, however, had more than enough Legos.

The high-income nations like the United States and Canada began producing large amounts of food right off the bat. At the same time, the developing nations clearly struggled. For example, the Dominican Republic students were left to fend for themselves despite asking for help from other nations. The students eventually gave up and sat back feeling frustrated and dejected.

When time was up, we took time to debrief with the students. Jeff asked, “What was the assignment I gave you?”

The students replied, “To produce as much food as we could for our nation.”

Jeff shook his head and said, “No. I asked you to produce as much food as you could. I didn’t say it was for your country. Do you think you produced as much as you could since several countries didn’t produce any food?”

The students looked sheepish as they realized they had incorrectly assumed this was a competition. I asked the United States team if they shared Legos with any other nations.

“No,” one student replied.

His group had received several requests for help, so I inquired, “Why not?”

“Because we’re ‘merica,” he said.

Each student wore a wristband with the words “Compassion It” on it.  Despite the visual reminder and two workshops that primed them in compassion, most students ignored requests for help.

I’m happy to report that we did find some outliers. A few students went out of their way to deliver Legos to those who needed them.

What’s my takeaway from this? When we’re involved in a perceived competition, we seem to ignore the needs of others.  Compassion takes a back seat when we want to win.

Our society makes competition a part of everyday life, from athletics to our careers. We prioritize a winning mindset over a compassionate mindset, and that’s what we pass down to our children.

So what can we do about it? We can start by including sportsmanship and compassion when we compete.

We should also teach our youth that life is not a zero-sum game. When we help each other, everyone wins.

Want to cultivate compassion within and also support Compassion It’s efforts to make our world more compassionate? Be a Compassion It Advocate! Learn more.

We Built Austin Out of LEGO® at SXSWedu

During SXSWedu, we help create a LEGO version of the City of Austin with the help of teachers, school administrators, and students.

We started with one building and watch the evolution throughout the event.

 

A high school band even came by.

Celebrating 20 Years of Playing Well!

20 years ago, our founder, Tim Bowen, had an idea to introduce kids to the world of engineering through playing with LEGO®, when the concept of S.T.E.M. had not even been popularized yet. Since then, Play-Well has been lucky enough to teach over 800,000 kids. Here is the story of how a crazy idea became an engineering program for kids that now teaches over 100,000 kids a year all over the United States.

Thanks, everyone that has ever participated in a Play-Well Program.  We couldn’t have gotten here without you.

Creating Downtown Novato out of 40,000 LEGO® Pieces

On Saturday, May 20th, 2017, Play-Well TEKnologies collaborated with the South Novato Library and families in the community to build Novato out of 40,000 LEGO® Bricks. Families rebuilt the city of Novato, as they would like to see it. Families got to tackle these questions through play:

  • If you had the chance to design the city, how would you design it?
  • What else would you add to the city that you currently think is missing?
  • How would you make Novato even better than it is now?

Here is what they came up with.

Building The City of Honolulu out of 20,000 LEGO® Pieces

On Saturday, June 3, 2017, Play-Well TEKnologies and the Hawaii State Public Library will be collaborating together to create an opportunity for families to build the city of Honolulu out of 20,000 LEGO® Bricks.  Families will have the opportunity to create Honolulu, as they would like to see it.  They can construct the library, downtown Honolulu, their own home, school, playgrounds, parks etc., all out of 20,000 LEGO® pieces all for FREE.  Kids will explore hands-on architecture and learn about how to build strong structures out of LEGO® bricks.

The event is the Kick-off to Hawaii State Public Library’s Summer Reading Program and is completely FREE to the public.  We do encourage families to register at the link below, as the event may sell out.

Here are the details:

Date & Time:  Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 / 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

(You can register for one of six different 30-minute time slots throughout the day)

Location: Hawaii State Public Library, 478 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813

Register For The City of Honolulu Build Here

Event Contacts:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do these city builds look like?

Can I drop my kid off at the event?

  • We ask that parents stay with their kids at all times

Will the kids get to keep their LEGO® creations after the event is over?

Can kids bring their own LEGO pieces to add to the city?

  • We ask that kids keep their LEGO® pieces at home as we would not want them to lose their favorite LEGO® pieces

We aren’t able to make it to the event, but would love for you to come to our neighborhood or school.  Is that possible?

How Long Has Play-Well Been in Hawaii?

For more information about Play-Well, visit play-well.org or send a question to Wrenn Okada at Wrenn@play-well.org.

Press Advisory: Creating Lawrence, KS out of LEGO® Bricks

Back in 2014, KC Rising, committed to an initiative to raise the level of quality jobs to 10 of their peer cities by 2025.  A recent Kansas City Star Editorial communicated KC Rising’s vision.  “KC Rising’s areas of focus include education around STEM-related occupations, life sciences, transportation, ways to enhance the region’s global competitiveness, innovation and entrepreneurship and increasing our human capital.

The City of Lawrence and Play-Well TEKnologies will be collaborating on a community build on Sunday, April 9th, 2017 to build Downtown Lawrence out of LEGO® Bricks, while also introducing kids to various STEM-related professions.  The goal is to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering, and math in a way that is tangible and fun.

Over 50,000 pieces of LEGO® and hundreds of families will converge at the Carnegie Building in Lawrence, KS, in an effort to build Downtown Lawrence and a part of Kansas University Campus, as a way to get more kids interested in engineering and other STEM and STEAM-related fields.

Location: Carnegie Building, 200 W 9th St, Lawrence, KS 66044

Date: Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Time: 2 PM – 3:30 PM & 4:30 PM – 6 PM (For the best video and photos, we recommend press arrive near the end of each session)

Contact: Erin Morse, erin@play-well.org, 816.945.9917

For more information, click on the link below:

Building The City of Lawrence, KS out of LEGO® Bricks

Here are examples of Play-Well’s City Builds around the country:

Salt Lake City, UT

Atlanta, GA

Washington, D.C.

Hayward, CA

Here are additional examples of other large builds Play-Well has done around the country.

 

Press Advisory: Building Salt Lake Valley out of LEGO® Bricks

Creating Washington, D.C. out of LEGO® Bricks at the National Building Museum

Back in January, Utah tech leaders showed up to the Capitol to request lawmakers to help bring more talent to Utah to fill their STEM positions.  As National Engineering Week comes to a close, on Saturday, February 25th at the Gene Fullmer Rec Center, families get the opportunity to build Salt Lake Valley with over 50,000 LEGO® Bricks, as a way to introduce more kids to the world of STEM and assist in building that STEM talent pipeline for future.

Gene Fullmer Recreation Center is teaming up with Play-Well TEKnologies, an organization that teaches kids engineering concepts using LEGO, in a collaborative effort to introduce more kids to the world of engineering. Over 50,000 pieces of LEGO® and hundreds of families will be converging at Gene Fullmer Recreation, in an effort to build the Salt Lake Valley out of LEGO and get more kids interested in engineering and other STEM and STEAM-related fields.

Location: Gene Fullmer Recreation Center, 8015 South 2200 West, West Jordan UT 84088

Date: Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Time: 10 AM – 12 PM & 1 PM – 3 PM (For the best video and photos, we recommend press arrive near the end of each session)

Contact: Brianna Laffey, 720-515-7309, brianna@play-well.org

Here are examples of Play-Well’s City Builds around the country:

Atlanta, GA

Washington, D.C.

Hayward, CA

Here are additional examples of other large builds Play-Well has done around the country.