Play the Moon Landing Exercise

Play the Moon Landing Exercise
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What is it?

A team-building game to reinforce the concept of using critical thinking in prioritization activities. It was originally developed by NASA.

Why do it?

The Moon Landing exercise helps teams practice collaborating effectively in determining priorities.

Time Needed

35 minutes

Number of Participants

This can be done in a small group or a large group that will break up in to smaller groups of 3-4.

Supplies Needed

  • Ranking Worksheet (or paper)
  • Pen

Process Steps

All the bolded items are provided below.

  1. Read The Scenario to the team(s).
  2. Provide everyone with The Ranking Worksheet or display the list of items and have everyone write them down on their own piece of paper.
  3. Ask everyone to rank the items individually first (allow about 10 minutes).
  4. Then ask everyone to get together in a group(s) and rank the items together (allow 20 minutes).
  5. Read or display The Answers and explanations to the group and have them score themselves. Their score will be a calculation of:
    1. For each time, find the difference in their ranking and the actual ranking (the positives and negatives don’t matter).
    2. Sum those.
  6. The lower the total the better The Score!

The Scenario

“You are a member of a space crew scheduled to rendezvous with a mother ship on the lighted surface of the moon. However, due to mechanical difficulties, your own ship was forced to land at a spot 200 miles from the rendezvous point.

During re-entry and landing, much of the equipment aboard was damaged and, since survival depends on reaching the mother ship, the most critical items available must be chosen for the 200-mile trip.

15 items are listed as being intact and undamaged after landing. Your task is to rank them in terms of their importance for your crew, to allow them to reach the rendezvous point. Place the number 1 by the most important item, the number 2 by the second most important, and so on through to number 15 for the least important.”

The Ranking Worksheet

This isn’t required but helpful – feel free to download our version here.

The Answers

The correct answers were determined by a group of scientists and engineers at NASA.

The Scores

  • 0 – 25: Excellent! You and your crew demonstrate great survival skills!
  • 26-32: Good. Above average results. You made it!
  • 33-45: Average. It was a struggle, but you made it in the end!
  • 46-55: Fair. You are still alive, but barely.
  • 56-70: Poor. Unfortunately, not everyone made it back.
  • 71+: Very Poor. It’s a grim reality. Your team will spend eternity on the moon.

Debrief

When human life is at stake we should prioritize what to use to keep us alive! When organizations are at stake, teams need to use critical thinking skills to determine what is truly important and delivers value. This game is a fun way to show that we need to understand true needs, not wants.

Bonus insight: Most people who play this game will score higher on the group ranking than on their individual ranking… an indicator that communication and sharing knowledge is key to team success (and survival for that matter).


Get more games to share with your team, see how we use gamification in our course development, and/or contact us to help you facilitate learning through play at your organization.

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