What Would MacGyver Do?
Do you remember the television show “MacGyver”? It was one of the great television shows that started in the 1980s. MacGyver was a secret agent who could get out of any problem just by using ordinary objects around him. There’s nothing like hooking your students when you tell them they get to be secret agents!
Choose three volunteers to come to the front of the room. Those three are secret agents who end up in a precarious situation and have to get themselves out of it by collaborating together. Ask three different students in the audience to name an ordinary object. For example, the three objects could be: a rock, a purse, and a pinecone. Then give the “agents” a life-threatening situation (or ask the audience for one). For example: You are hiking in the Rocky Mountains and encounter a zombie. Working together, the three agents act out how they would use the three objects to escape their situation. I usually give them a minute or two to discuss their scene before they start. Remember to discuss what public speaking skills they used after this activity.
Using It In Different Content Areas
Tip: You could also relate the content that what you are teaching. The agents could be locked in a pyramid or tomb, or they could be in a “sphere” with no windows or doors. Their tools might be something you use in science (microscope, funnel, googles).
Why This Works
If you’re trying to think of a way to engage students in your content area, while also working on their critical thinking skills, then this MacGyver activity is the way to go. You could change to the title to, “What would a scientist do?” “What would a mathematician do?” “What would a historian do?” Of course, my favorite part is that it gives students a chance to work on their communication/collaboration skills.
If you’re looking for another great way to engage students for your vocabulary unit, check out my recent post, “Vocabulary Improv.”