Leadership Inspirations Activities

Nuclear Waste

As a team move all the ‘nuclear energy’ safely from its old container to its new one


20-30 minutes

Team Stage

Norming, Performing

Type Of Activity

Experiential Activity


One Color Plastic Balls, 2 Buckets Of Equal Size, 2 Gym Dots, 6-8 Small Bungee Chords, 6 Long Ropes, 1 Long Boundary Rope



Move all the nuclear energy from its old container to its new one using your whole team to create an effective strategy and implement it. This activity is good for problem solving, communication and managing conflict.


  • Arrange the single long rope in a circle in the center of the room.
  • Place the two gym dots in the middle.
  • Place one bucket on each gym dot.
  • Place all the plastic balls in one of the buckets.
  • Leave the bungee ropes and long ropes outside the circle.


  • Explain the scenario:
    • A nuclear disaster is about to occur. Your team has been called in to save the world.
    • The nuclear energy (plastic balls) is currently stored in a container that is corroding.
    • Your task is to move all the nuclear energy from its old container to its new container (from one bucket to the other).
    • This new container must never leave its charging station (gym dot).
    • You cannot enter the space where the nuclear energy is stored.  This means you cannot cross the rope circle with any part of your body at any time.
    • You may only use the supplies provided to complete your task (the bungee ropes and the long ropes).
    • They have 20 minutes.
    • If they break any of the rules there will be consequences (blindfolding, can’t talk, have to sit out etc.)
  • Possible Solution (for facilitator use only): One of the ways to successfully complete this activity is to make a circle with the small bungees, tie the longer ropes to it, and then get the loop around the bucket to lift it and pour the balls into the other bucket.
  • Facilitator Note: This activity can be difficult.  You may need to stop them intentionally and have them process throughout the activity until they get it. Build time in for your group to take timeouts to regroup and strategize.


  • Using 3 buckets, set up two nuclear waste stations, with one empty bucket in the middle of the space. Divide the group into two individual teams, and have them complete the activity.  Once the two groups are done, process, and then have them do the activity as one group. Give yourself 45 minutes to an hour to complete this variation.
  • Include obstacles between the buckets for added difficulty.
  • For a ‘tabletop’ version, see Marker Madness.


  • What was the goal of this activity?
  • Did your group do well? What could have improved?
  • How did your group make decisions? Was it effective or ineffective?
  • How did your group manage conflict that arose?
So What?

Group Dynamics

  • What are the traits that make someone successful on this team? What are the traits that make someone unsuccessful on this team?
  • What motivates our group?
  • How does our group dynamic affect the way we get work done?

Inclusion and Involvement

  • What does it mean to be inclusive or exclusive?
  • What did we do as a group that was inclusive? That was exclusive/not inclusive?
  • Why is inclusion and involvement important for our group?
Now What?
  • What does this activity tell you about the strengths of your group? The areas for improvement?
  • What’s one commitment each person can make?
  • What are three lessons the group has learned that they can continue to work on?
  • How can we implement these lessons in our school/organization?
  • What can you do differently moving forward?