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  • v.3(4); Oct-Dec 2010

Simulation-based learning: Just like the real thing

Fatimah lateef.

Senior Consultant, Director of Training and Education, Department of Emergency Medicine, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore

Simulation is a technique for practice and learning that can be applied to many different disciplines and trainees. It is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones, often “immersive” in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion. Simulation-based learning can be the way to develop health professionals’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst protecting patients from unnecessary risks. Simulation-based medical education can be a platform which provides a valuable tool in learning to mitigate ethical tensions and resolve practical dilemmas. Simulation-based training techniques, tools, and strategies can be applied in designing structured learning experiences, as well as be used as a measurement tool linked to targeted teamwork competencies and learning objectives. It has been widely applied in fields such aviation and the military. In medicine, simulation offers good scope for training of interdisciplinary medical teams. The realistic scenarios and equipment allows for retraining and practice till one can master the procedure or skill. An increasing number of health care institutions and medical schools are now turning to simulation-based learning. Teamwork training conducted in the simulated environment may offer an additive benefit to the traditional didactic instruction, enhance performance, and possibly also help reduce errors.


In medical education, there should be exposure to live patients so that medical students and doctors can acquire the necessary skills. There is also, on the other hand, an obligation to provide optimal treatment and to ensure patients’ safety and well-being. These two competing needs can sometimes pose a dilemma in medical education. Also, medicine is a discipline that is a science as well as an art and repeated exposures with enhanced experience will help improve skills and confidence.[ 1 ]

The growing complexities of patient care require doctors to master not only knowledge and procedural skills but also the ability to effectively communicate with patients, relatives, and other health care providers and also to coordinate a variety of patient care activities. Doctors have to be good team players and their training programmes must systematically inculcate these skills. Teamwork-related competencies are relatively new considerations in the arena of health care


Simulation is a technique for practice and learning that can be applied to many different disciplines and types of trainees. It is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones, often “immersive” in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion. “Immersive” here implies that participants are immersed in a task or setting as if it were the real world.[ 2 , 3 ]

Full-body mannequin simulators originated in the field of anesthesia in the late 1960s, based on work done by Denson and Abrahamson from the University of Southern California. This model was known as ‘Sim One’ and was used for training in endotracheal intubation and induction of anesthesia. In the 1980s, during the time when personal computers became less expensive and more simulation software became available, independent groups began to develop simulator systems. Much of this was utilized in the areas of aviation, military training, nuclear power generation, and space flights. In the early 1990s, more comprehensive anesthesia simulation environments were produced, which included the MedSim and, later, the Medical Education Technologies Inc. (METI) Advanced Human Patient Simulator. Aviation simulation training concepts then begun to be gradually introduced into anesthesia and other areas of medicine like critical care, obstetrics, emergency medicine, and internal medicine. Current full-body simulator models incorporate computerized models that closely approximate the physiology seen in the human body.

Simulation-based learning can be the answer to developing health professionals’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst protecting patients from unnecessary risks. Simulation-based medical education can be a platform for learning to mitigate ethical tensions and resolve practical dilemmas. Simulationbased training techniques, tools, and strategies can be applied in designing structured learning experiences, as well as be used as a measurement tool linked to targeted teamwork competencies and learning objectives. Simulation-based learning itself is not new. It has been applied widely in the aviation industry (also known as CRM or crew resource management), anesthesiology, as well as in the military. It helps to mitigate errors and maintain a culture of safety, especially in these industries where there is zero tolerance for any deviation from set standards.[ 1 , 3 ]

Simulation has also begun to change much of the ways in which medicine is taught and how trainees and junior doctors acquire the relevant skills. Medical, nursing, and other health care staff also have the opportunity to develop and refine their skills, repeatedly if necessary, using simulation technology without putting patients at risk.[ 4 ] Simulation training centers, with their new techniques and equipment, offer unique opportunities for dynamic, complex, and unanticipated medical situations to be practiced and managed. In both aviation and health care domains, human performance is strongly influenced by the situational context, i.e., the interaction between the task, the environment, and the behavior of team members. In aviation, more than 50 years of research has shown that superior cognitive and technical skills are not enough to ensure safety: effective teamwork skill is a must. Similar observations are also now being made in the practice of medicine.[ 3 – 8 ]

The cost of simulation training, when it was first introduced, was high, and few institutions had the vision to realize that it was a worthwhile investment for the long term. It has indeed turned out to be a very flexible and durable form of medical education and training. Much of the cost is contributed to by the manpower or technician costs as well as cost of the laboratory setup and maintenance. The computer- and information technologycontrolled equipment advances medical learning and ensures that students and doctors learn procedures and treatment protocols before performing them on actual patients. The simulated environment allows learning and re-learning as often as required to correct mistakes, allowing the trainee to perfect steps and fine-tune skills to optimize clinical outcomes.[ 5 , 6 ] There can also be simulated examples or scenarios of rare or unusual cases that are often hard to come by in the clinical settings. The simulated situation and scenarios can give students and inexperienced junior doctors realistic exposure to such cases. It can certainly help in making books and lecture materials come alive. It helps ensure that students and trainees gain clinical experience without having to depend on chance encounters of certain cases. Many also believe that simulation-based learning enhances efficiency of the learning process in a controlled and safe environment.[ 9 , 10 ]

In the earlier days of medicine some form of “simulation” was already being applied in the form of case scenarios and the use of case presentations. These are also being utilized to assess candidates in the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Life support courses such as basic and advanced cardiac life support (BCLS and ACLS, respectively), as well as basic and advanced trauma life support (BTLS and ATLS, respectively), also utilize simulation techniques and principles for learning and testing.[ 5 ] Simulation is a tool for learning and training as well as for assessment of performance.[ 10 , 11 ]

The skills requirement which can be enhanced with the use of simulation include:

  • Technical and functional expertise training
  • Problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Interpersonal and communications skills or team-based competencies

All of these share a common thread in that they require active listening and collaboration besides possession of the basic knowledge and skills. With every training programme it is best to have feedback and debriefing sessions that follow. Feedback must be linked to learning outcomes and there must be effective debriefing protocols following all simulation exercises. Studies have shown that simulation improves learning.[ 5 , 6 , 9 , 11 ] Simulation is effective in developing skills in procedures that require eye–hand coordination and in those that call for ambidextrous maneuvers, such as bronchoscopy and other endoscopic procedures[ 9 – 11 ] Simulation training helps learners prepare to deal with unanticipated medical events, thus increasing their confidence.

Multidisciplinary teams deliver a multitude of health care services today but many organizations still remain focused on individual technical responsibilities, leaving practitioners inadequately prepared to enter complex team-based settings. When health care providers of different disciplines train separately, it may be difficult to integrate their capabilities. Effective multidisciplinary teams must always have good communications and leadershipsharing behavior, which can help ensure patient safety.

Inculcation of teamwork values is an example of the nontechnical, but essential, part of training of medical professionals. Simulation has the potential to create lasting and sustainable behavior and culture change that will make health care more effective and safer. It also has the ability to fundamentally alter learners’ ways of doing things and working with others. Transformational change can only come about when the learner recognizes the problems and then adopts a proactive approach to work on it and correct it.

The essence of a team is the shared goal and commitment. It represents a powerful unit of collective performance, which can be done as an individual or mutually. These must eventually translate common purpose into specific performance goals. One of the important ingredients of teams with good outcomes is the basic discipline of the team. Simulation training and practice affords the essentials for creating an effective medical team with a sense of group identity, group efficacy, and trust amongst members. There needs to be true engagement and understanding for team members to work together well. Examples of these can be seen in the incredible teamwork and excellent team dynamics that can exist during good resuscitation, certain surgery, and the more complex intensive care cases. Members who have had sufficient training and knowledge can be flexible enough to adapt to any new situation and break out of their ingrained routines and they get more proficient with time. Each member of such a health care team can carry out another team member’s job, which reflects their interdependence. A learning team will have some degree of substitution, defined roles and responsibilities, flexibility, good process flow, and an awareness of common goals. Conflict resolution is another aspect of teamwork that can be practiced during simulations.

Sexton et al . used a cross-sectional survey to assess errors, stress, and teamwork in medicine and the aviation industry. Medical staff reported that error is an important issue but difficult to discuss and that it was not being handled well in their hospital.[ 12 ] Other problems that were mentioned included different perceptions of teamwork amongst team members and reluctance of senior staff to accept inputs from junior members.[ 12 ]


The health care team comprises doctors from various disciplines, nurses, physiotherapists, radiologists and radiographers, pharmacists, medical students, and other personnel. The composition varies according to the objective of the teams; examples include stroke management teams, trauma teams, acute coronary syndrome intervention teams, etc. The training of each member of the team is decided by his or her own discipline. As such, there is a need to bring them together in an integrated fashion to learn how to manage a patient with complex medical problems. No one discipline is more important than the other. Everyone has a role to play. In simulated exercises involving teams, members learn how not “to step on each others’ toes.” They are made aware of their synergistic roles. There must also be some flexibility allowed at various junctures of decision-making and intervention. Team-work skills and interpersonal communication techniques are essential components of such training and exercise.[ 13 – 16 ]

The simulation trainers are often senior staff who have a good grasp and helicopter view of the whole team-based approach. They must be able to objectively view the group dynamics and interaction within the teams they train and provide valuable feedback. They will assess the team’s performance in real-time and may maintain checklists of activities, actions, and relevant human factors. Videotaping the role-playing is useful as it can be played back and the highlights shared with the team as part of their learning process. Trainers can points out both the negative and positive practices and behaviors to the participants.[ 16 , 17 ]

There are also scenario writers for these simulation cases. These writers can customize the scenarios for interdisciplinary team training and role-playing in order to highlight or facilitate certain roles or team interaction. These scenarios should be realistic, practical, and comprehensive. Scenarios would usually also have event triggers, environmental distractors, and supporting events. They should be developed systematically with proficiency-based assessment in place, which can emphasize integrative team performance as well as technical performance. All practice and action should also be validated by data and evidence.[ 16 ]

Some common pitfalls that have been observed during team performance include:[ 17 , 18 ]

  • The lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities of other team members, particularly across disciplines.
  • The absence of clearly defined specified roles may persist, despite generally acceptable team performance; this may not become obvious until there is a change in team members, which then reveals the role confusion.
  • Most health care systems have no or few processes or backup plans when errors occur.
  • There is an unspoken assumption by members that everyone will perform at 100% efficiency and effectiveness. However, there is no method to measure this.


A simulation center would be a long-term investment in medical education. It can be used for undergraduate training (such as in the study of anatomy, physiological functions, familiarization with medical examination techniques), for residency training (e.g., in refining and mastering procedural skills and techniques or preparing for practical examinations, refresher courses, and recertification tests etc.), for continuing medical or nursing education (e.g., training in practical skills), or for competency testing prior to recruitment.[ 11 ] To start off, there must be a convenient location, usually somewhere on the hospital or university campus for convenience of proximity. The architecture plan and infrastructure must be decided upon in consultation with the trainers/end-users of the center. It must include adequate space for training small groups, rooms with one-way mirrors, and sufficient space for equipment setup, amongst other facilities. There must also be provision for video recording equipment. Manpower would include full-time technicians and a manager; the trainers are usually part-time medical personnel. The decision to purchase suitable mannequins and equipment must only be made after adequate demonstration and trials have been done and all parties are satisfied. It is also important to have technical support from the vendors in the long term. The different forms of medical simulation technology training that can be considered for the center would include:

  • Human patient simulators : The centerpiece is usually a fullsized patient simulator that blinks, breathes, and has heart beat, pulse, and respiratory sounds. This mannequin can be very technologically advanced. For example, it may “interact” with learners through computer-guided teaching programmes Attached monitors can display vital signs and this can provide virtual simulation of almost every major bodily function. This simulator can be used for scenarios from simple physical examination to interdisciplinary major trauma management. Some simulators can even recognize injected medications via a laser bar-code reader and then respond with appropriate vital sign changes
  • Simulated clinical environment : An intensive care unit, emergency room cubicle, or operating room is prepared with all the equipment and the crash cart. The setup is as realistic as the actual facility. Trainees can familiarize themselves with the setup and arrangements.
  • Virtual procedure stations : Various stations can be set up, depending on what the focus is. These stations will have all the relevant equipment and setup for the procedure to be carried out, e.g., bronchoscopy, colonoscopy, intubation. The simulators can present a variety of different scenarios and pathologies and the trainee can practice until he/she masters the technique(s).
  • Electronic medical records : As more health care institutions adopt electronic medical records to track and to manage patients, this can also be a station setup in the center. The system utilized will have fictitious patients with their histories, notes, and lab results. There may also be system integration, such as the link between records and the laboratory as well as the radiology results (digitalized radiographs).

Currently, adult simulation equipment and mannequins are already well established. Pediatric ones are still in the experimental stage, but there will be future developments. There are children’s hospital which are already using simulation-based training for their staff.

For institutions that cannot afford to set up an entire simulation laboratory, a less expensive option could be to invest in simulation mannequins only. This could be purchased in different numbers and be used for training purposes. Institutions and their leaders must learn to accept the candidates with an open mind. The leaders must be strict with their education and training portions. It may also be useful to plan visits to established simulation centers.


Health care safety can be compared to other high-stakes industries such as aviation, the military, and nuclear power generation. In these industries, safety depends on the prevention of human errors and on engineered redundancy so that the systems work without failing. Morbidity and mortality can be the consequences of failures in these environments.[ 20 – 23 ] Hospitals do include the numbers of medical errors as one of their key performance indicators. The utility of simulation in health care is certainly most interesting to consider in the context of patient safety.[ 23 – 25 ]

One important concept in medical safety is the paradigm of how one learns. Traditionally, medicine works on the apprenticeship model. Trainees and residents begin caring for patients on their first day of internship under the supervision of more experienced staff, who provide a safety net for errors. Despite their learning about medical care before assuming responsibility of their first patient, there must indeed be a first time for the performance of high-risk procedures, resuscitation, and the implementation of critical decision-making skills in real time on real patients. Simulation provides a learning model to complement traditional learning in medicine. These scheduled simulation exposures can ensure the residents have exposure to these emergencies, even if they are only simulated scenarios. For the performance of procedures, it has been shown that the volume of experience decreases patient complication rates. Simulators do allow for the development of experience prior to performance of these procedures on patients.[ 4 , 11 , 23 – 25 ]

The apprenticeship model of medical teaching has not been widely studied, but newer methods which are resourceful and intensive have been given greater scrutiny. The body of literature is gradually emerging. A general scan of the literature from 1969 to 2003 concluded that the rigor and quality of research in simulation needs improvement, although high-fidelity simulations are educationally effective and complement traditional teaching in patient care settings. The features of simulation which best facilitate learning include:[ 23 , 26 ]

  • The ability to provide feedback
  • Repetitive practice
  • Curriculum integration
  • The ability to range the difficulty levels

The educational benefits of simulation in medical education include the following:

  • Deliberate practice with feedback
  • Exposure to uncommon events
  • Reproducibility
  • Opportunity for assessment of learners
  • The absence of risks to patients

To date, however, there have been no studies to show that simulation training improves patient care outcomes directly. There may be some reasons for this. Life-threatening complications are rare. Most institutions have quality improvement measures in place and selecting for the impact of simulation on patient outcomes can be difficult. However, there exist a significant body of data and evidence for the benefit of simulation training in educational outcomes. Learners who go through simulation do perform better on subsequent simulated tests and tasks. In a cohort study on medical students from five institutions, one group was exposed to 2 weeks of deliberate practice of cardiac bedside skills using the Harvey Cardiology Patient Simulator followed by 2 weeks of traditional ward work, while the other group went through 4 weeks of traditional ward training. The simulation group performed at twice as well as the ward group, with only half the training time.[ 24 ]

Devita et al . showed that simulated patients had better outcomes if doctors were trained to work together by reliably performing preassigned roles during a simulator exercise.[ 25 ]


Simulation appears to be here to stay. Perhaps there will be a day when we may use it as a tool in evaluating candidates for medical school admission, just as dental students are put through some manual dexterity tests. As medical simulation games are being developed, medical training may change to include a portion of time dedicated to learning through gaming. More studies and research are also needed to determine whether simulation improves patient outcomes. Designers will continue to improve the technology of virtual reality to make experiences as seamless as possible.[ 26 ]

Simulation-based training has opened up a new educational application in medicine. Evidence-based practices can be put into action by means of protocols and algorithms, which can then be practiced via simulation scenarios. The key to success in simulation training is integrating it into traditional education programmes. The clinical faculty must be engaged early in the process of development of a programme such as this. Champions and early adopters will see the potential in virtual reality learning and will invest time and energy in helping to create a curriculum. They can then help to engage the wider medical community. Teamwork training conducted in the simulated environment may also offer an additive benefit to the traditional didactic instruction, enhance performance, and possibly also reduce errors. The cost-effectiveness of potentially expensive simulation-based medical education and training should be examined in terms of improvement of clinical competence and its impact on patient safety. Perhaps, with the adoption of simulation as a standard of training and certification, health care systems will be viewed as more accountable and ethical by the population they serve.

Source of Support: Nil.

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

The learning analytics of model-based learning facilitated by a problem-solving simulation game

  • Published: 29 June 2018
  • Volume 46 , pages 847–867, ( 2018 )

Cite this article

  • Cai-Ting Wen 1 ,
  • Chia-Jung Chang 1 ,
  • Ming-Hua Chang 1 ,
  • Shih-Hsun Fan Chiang 1 ,
  • Chen-Chung Liu 1 ,
  • Fu-Kwun Hwang 2 &
  • Chin-Chung Tsai 3  

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This study investigated students’ modeling progress and strategies in a problem-solving simulation game through content analysis, and through supervised and unsupervised lag sequential analysis (LSA). Multiple data sources, including self-report models and activity logs, were collected from 25 senior high school students. The results of the content analysis found that the problem-solving simulation game helped most of the students to reflectively play with the science problem and build a workable model to solve it. By using the supervised LSA, it was found that the students who successful solved the game frequently linked the game contexts with the physics terminologies, while those who did not solve the problem simply relied on the intuitive knowledge provided in the reference materials. Furthermore, the unsupervised LSA identified four activity patterns that were not noticed in the supervised LSA: the fragmented, reference material centered, reference material aided modeling, and modeling centered patterns. Each pattern has certain associations with certain problem-solving outcomes. The results of this study also shed light on the use of different analytics techniques. While the supervised LSA is particularly helpful for depicting a contrast of activity patterns between two specific student groups, the unsupervised LSA is able to identify hidden significant patterns which were not clearly distinguished in the pre-defined student groups. Researchers may find these analytics techniques useful for analyzing students’ learning processes.

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Cai-Ting Wen, Chia-Jung Chang, Ming-Hua Chang, Shih-Hsun Fan Chiang & Chen-Chung Liu

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Wen, CT., Chang, CJ., Chang, MH. et al. The learning analytics of model-based learning facilitated by a problem-solving simulation game. Instr Sci 46 , 847–867 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-018-9461-5

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-018-9461-5

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3. War of the Wizards (Popular)

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With War of the Wizards, teams roleplay as minions of powerful wizards to vanquish forces of evil. Participants will play thrilling games and go on a quest to restore harmony to the realm!

War of the Wizards offers the following:

  • a 90-minute journey guided by a distinguished host
  • immersive storytelling that transports players into a magical realm
  • engaging activities like world-building, role-playing games, and storytelling
  • opportunities for forming alliances, facing challenges, and going on quests

Through the power of imagination and teamwork, your team can overcome tasks and participate in an epic fantasy battle. To improve communication and bonds, include War of the Wizards in your agenda!

Learn more about War of the Wizards .

Sudoku is one of the most popular free problem solving games for adults. The objective of this game is to fill each box of a 9×9 grid so that every row, column, and letter contains each number from one to nine. The puzzle makes a great team challenge. To play Sudoku on Zoom, screen share the game board. Then, turn on the annotation features. Using the add text functions, participants can fill in the numbers on the grid.

We made a starter puzzle you can use in your next meeting or virtual team bonding session:

Sudoku game-board

Here are more online Sudoku puzzles .

5. Crossword puzzles

Crossword puzzles are word games that ask players to fill in words based on clues. Words interconnect, and players must think critically about the surrounding words to select the right phrase for the space.

You can use an online crossword puzzle maker to create a custom puzzle. Here are a few themes you may want to consider:

  • teammates’ tastes and interests
  • company knowledge and history
  • industry terms and trends

Or, create a miscellaneous puzzle just for fun.

We made a sample puzzle you can use for your game:

free crossword template

To complete puzzles during online meetings, you can use the share screen function and add text through annotations.

Or, subscribers can play the New York Times’ daily crossword puzzle virtually . Dictionary.com also offers a free daily online crossword puzzle .

Check out more vocabulary games .

6. Online Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are timed games that get groups working together to solve puzzles. Traditionally, players enter a locked room and must complete all puzzles in an hour or two to unlock the door. However, groups can also play escape rooms online.

Digital escape rooms typically come in one of two forms: in a Zoom room and led by a host, or in a choose-your-own adventure format via Google Forms or websites. To play escape rooms virtually, enter a video meeting and follow the prompts, or screen share the Google Form and work out the puzzles together.

Check out our full list of online escape rooms .

7. Murder Mysteries

Murder Mysteries are story-based games that ask players to take on the roles of suspects or detectives while trying to identify a killer. These games often involve reading lines from a script, searching for clues, and occasionally solving puzzles to get hints.

These games make participants pay attention to conversations, analyze other characters’ behavior, and search for hidden meaning in the script. Players must use their powers of observation and logic to unravel the mystery.

Check out our list of Zoom murder mystery games .

8. Treasure Hunts

Treasure hunts are scavenger hunts with intention. While virtual scavenger hunts often ask players to collect random items, treasure hunts require participants to locate clues that lead to other prompts and hints. The game typically ends with players finding a treasure or solving a mystery, sometimes both.

The treasure hunt can have a specific theme such as secret agent missions or a hunt for pirate treasure, or you can run a more general hunt. Teammates can either compete simultaneously via Zoom call, or can play the hunt on an app individually and compete to beat each other’s scores.

Check out our list of treasure hunt apps .

9. Poem or story challenge

Most team building problem solving activities for employees revolve around science, math, and logic. Poem/story challenges rely on writing skills and are sure to appeal to the language lovers on your team.

Each player receives a limited word bank to use to create a story or poem. Then, players have a few minutes to craft their pieces. Afterward, everyone reads out or screen shares their creations.

Here are a few word challenge activities you can do remotely:

  • Found poems or stories : Participants make poems or stories out of words they find by visiting websites, searching emails, glancing out the window, or taking a walk or drive around the neighborhood.
  • Random word generators : Teammates use a random word generator to populate a word bank, and must use each word in the poem or story.
  • Poetry magnets : Group members make poems using poetry magnets. You can send poetry magnet sets to employees and assemble the verses on a cookie pan during a Zoom call. Or, teammates can play with poetry magnets online .
  • Page poems: Participants receive one page of a book or magazine, and must make a poem or story by blocking out other words so only the chosen text remains visible. This activity is part storytelling, part art, since story crafters can illustrate the pages as part of the design.
  • Ransom note stories or poems : Players cut out letters from magazines and must form new words to make poems and stories. Or, players can receive a mix of random letters, form words, and run the text through a ransom note generator .

These activities are suitable for teams and individual players.

10. Moral challenge

Some problems are ethical rather than factual. Moral judgment plays just as important a role in the decision-making process as technical prowess. Players can flex their moral problem-solving skills by tackling ethical dilemmas or social puzzles.

Here are some social problem solving games online:

  • Moral machine
  • Scruples – the game of moral dilemmas
  • Morality play

To play these games, either download the apps, or pull up the website and then screen share the prompts. These games are best played when discussed as a group, because the more belief systems and opinions, the harder an issue is to resolve. These exercises provide practice for real-life conflict resolution.

You can find similar challenges on our list of online personality tests .

11. Frostbite

Frostbite is a group game that hones team leaders’ communication skills while sharpening teammates’ listening and cooperation skills. The premise behind the game is that a group of explorers gets caught in a snowstorm and must build a shelter. Frostbite has paralyzed the leaders’ hands and snow-blinded the rest of the team. The leader must give the team instructions to build a tent that can resist arctic winds.

To play Frostbite, each teammate wears a blindfold. Then, the leader gives directions. Once the structures are complete, players turn on a fan to test whether tents can withstand the wind.

Frostbite is usually an in-person game, however you can also play virtually. In the remote version of the game, teammates construct tents out of cards and tape, while the leader surveys the scene on screen.

This exercise demonstrates the challenges of leading remotely, as teams need to operate with minimal oversight or supervisor observation. Therefore, instructions need to be clear and direct to be effective.

Check out more team building games .

12. Virtual Hackathons

Hackathons are events where participants have a set amount of time to design and pitch a new product or solution. This type of event originated in the programming world and is often used to create new apps, however you can apply the game to any industry or school subject.

Virtual hackathons are online versions of the event. Teams enter the competition, then work with each other via virtual meeting software or remote work communication platforms to design the solution. At the end of the competition, teams pitch ideas to a panel of judges and a winner is decided.

To run a virtual hackathon, first announce the theme of the event and collect sign-ups. So that no teams work ahead, hint at the general idea of the issue, and only explain the precise problem when the event begins. Then, give teams anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete the project.

Discover more virtual hackathon ideas .

13. Improv games

Improv games are excellent problem solving activities. These exercises force participants to think and respond quickly to keep scenes moving in a logical and entertaining way.

Here are some good problem solving improv games:

Banned words : Performers cannot say certain words. Scene partners will conceive of situations that encourage the actors to use those words, and the actors must find alternatives, such as using synonyms or taking the scene in a new direction.

Scenes from a chat : Audience gives a suggestion for a scene, and players act the scene out. Though it’s a fictional and often ridiculous scenario, actors must react to the situation and solve the problem in order for the scene to end.

Miracle cure : Miracle cure is a quick-moving exercise that follows a simple format. One player declares, “I have a problem.” Another player responds, “I have a….[random object.]” The first player then replies, “great! I can use the [random object] to….” and describes how they will solve the problem.

Check out more problem-solving improv games .

14. Spaghetti Tower

The spaghetti tower is a classic team building game. Participants gather uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows, and must construct the tallest freestanding tower.

During the in-person version, players must construct one tall freestanding tower. However, for the virtual version of the game, players construct individual towers. You can send groups to breakout rooms for the build, then reconvene in the main room for judging. Teams are judged on three main factors: number of towers, height, and uniformity.

This version of the game not only tests the structural integrity of the tower, but also consistency and quality control. This exercise teaches teams to align and collaborate remotely, and produce a consistent product even when far apart.

15. What Would You Do?

What Would You Do? is a simple situational game that challenges participants to react to different circumstances. To play this game, read prompts one by one, and then ask participants to respond with gameplans. You can use the polling or raise hand feature to vote for the best option.

Here are some problem solving scenarios for adults or kids to use in the game:

  • Zombies attack and you have to find a place to hide.
  • You are at the zoo and the animals escape. Which one do you try to corral back into the pen first?
  • After waiting in line for hours, someone cuts in front of you last minute. The person appears to be visually and hearing impaired, and doesn’t notice your protests. An official announces that due to diminishing supply, this individual will be the last in line to be served.
  • You are eating a meal with important clients and/or your partner’s parents, and you want to impress. The individuals make you a dish that does not fit within your dietary restrictions, but you do not speak the same language and cannot explain why you do not want to eat.
  • An imposter has infiltrated the organization, who looks, speaks, and behaves exactly like you. How do you convince your peers that you are the original?

For similar dilemmas, check out this list of Would You Rather? questions.

16. Desert Island Survival

Desert Island Survival is a game that challenges players to prioritize. The premise is that players have been stranded on an island, and must decide what order to perform survival steps.

Here are the possible actions:

  • Set up shelter
  • Explore the island
  • Try to signal for help
  • Make weapons for self-defense
  • Build a raft to escape the island
  • Start a fire
  • Choose a group leader
  • Search for other survivors

All group members must agree on the order of the steps. Players should explain the reasoning for the order of each step while ranking the actions.

Another version of the game involves players receiving a list of 15 to 20 items, and selecting five or so to bring to the island. You can also vary the location of the game, substituting remote islands for destinations like outer space or the distant past.

17. Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure stories enable readers to determine the outcome of the story by making decisions. Each action has a consequence that takes the tale in a different direction. Participants can try to guess how the story may unfold by talking through the different choices. When completing the activity in a group setting, the majority of the team must agree on an action before moving forward in the story.

There are a few ways to facilitate these activities online:

  • Play an online role playing video game
  • Watch an interactive movie like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
  • Read from a Choose Your Own Adventure book on Zoom
  • Click through a Choose Your Own Adventure platform
  • Create your own story using a Google Form

Whichever way you choose to do the exercise, you can use the screen share feature in your virtual meeting software so that listeners can more easily follow along.

18. MacGyver

MacGyver is a show where the hero escapes sticky situations by improvising tools out of unlikely materials. For example, in one episode the hero makes a telescope out of a newspaper, magnifying lens, and a watch crystal.

To play MacGyver, you can either list three to five objects participants can use, or challenge players to use items that are within arms reach.

Simply state a desired end result, such as “a way to open a locked door,” or “a getaway vehicle,” and then ask teams to explain what they will build and how they will build it. To make the activity more collaborative, you can give teams five or ten minutes in breakout rooms to strategize and design a prototype.

19. Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons is a roleplaying game where players pretend to be magical figures and creatures. One player serves as the dungeon master, who guides the game, while the other players pick characters and make decisions to move the story forward. Upon choosing a course of action, players roll a twenty-sided die to determine whether or not the plan succeeds. The game is story-based, the possibilities are nearly limitless, and truly creative problem solving options arise. Also, since gameplay is mostly verbal, Dungeons & Dragons is an easy activity to do over Zoom.

Here are the basic rules for Dungeons & Dragons .

20. Pandemic

Pandemic is a game that pits players against the forces of nature in a race to contain and control disease outbreaks. At the beginning of the game, each player receives a role such as containment specialist or operations expert. Participants must carry out the duties of their roles by choosing appropriate actions. Pandemic is a great game for groups because each team member has a clear part to play, and players must collaborate and work together instead of competing against each other.

To play the game online, you can use a Pandemic game app , or talk through the exercise while one attendee moves and displays pieces on the board.

Note: The subject of this game might hit too close to home for some players, considering recent history. You can find games with similar mechanics that deal with different subject matter, such as Forbidden Island.

Check out more team building board games .

21. Model UN

Model UN is one of the best virtual problem solving activities for students. This exercise casts participants in the role of international diplomats who must negotiate to solve realistic problems. Each player assumes the role of a country ambassador and must form alliances and propose solutions to solve crises.

Here are some sample Model UN scenarios:

  • Human rights violation by powerful country
  • Food shortage
  • Disease epidemic
  • Technology privacy violations
  • Civil war branching into surrounding countries
  • Natural disasters

Depending on the size of the group, participants either take on the part of an entire government of a country, or play a certain role within the government. To carry out the activity on Zoom, players can take turns giving speeches, message other countries privately via the chat, meet in breakout rooms to form alliances or have more intimate discussions, and use the polling feature to vote on propositions.

If politics does not resonate with your group, then you can alter the exercise by applying the same activity structure to a different theme, such as the Justice League, movie characters, business board members, or reality TV stars.

The main purpose of the exercise is to research, talk through problems, and compromise. As long as these elements are present, then the specifics of the setup do not matter.

There are many types of problem solving activities for adults. You can do online problem solving games, which require a different skill set than in-person problem solving. For instance, communication must be much clearer and more abundant when group members are far apart and unable to demonstrate or pick up physical cues.

Though many problem solving games include props and in-person elements, there are many games you can play together online. These exercises work well as educational tools as well as team bonding accelerators. Upon completion, participants are likely to feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence. These games are also great practice for real life conflict resolution, creative thinking and team building.

Next check out this list of connection games , this collection of crime-solving games , and this post with conflict resolution games .

We also have a list of the best decision making books and a list of team building problems for work .

FAQ: Problem solving activities

Here are common answers to questions about group problem solving activities.

What are problem solving games?

Problem solving games are challenges that ask players to think critically and use logic to overcome issues or answer riddles. Examples include sudoku, murder mysteries, and spaghetti towers. These games are also known as “problem solving exercises”, “problem and solution games” and “group problem solving activities.”

What are the best problem solving games for groups?

The best problem solving games for groups include online escape rooms, moral challenges, and improv games.

What are some good problem solving team building activities for students?

Some good problem solving activities for students include crossword puzzles, choose your own adventure stories, and model UN.

How do you play problem solving games online?

The best way to play problem solving games online is to join a video call meeting to talk through the issue. Using the screen sharing and digital whiteboard features helps participants visualize the problem more clearly. Breakout rooms give teams the chance to discuss the issue more intimately.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Marketing Coordinator at teambuilding.com. Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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Team Building Exercises – Problem Solving and Decision Making

Fun ways to turn problems into opportunities.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

problem solving of simulation

Whether there's a complex project looming or your team members just want to get better at dealing with day-to-day issues, your people can achieve much more when they solve problems and make decisions together.

By developing their problem-solving skills, you can improve their ability to get to the bottom of complex situations. And by refining their decision-making skills, you can help them work together maturely, use different thinking styles, and commit collectively to decisions.

In this article, we'll look at three team-building exercises that you can use to improve problem solving and decision making in a new or established team.

Exercises to Build Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Skills

Use the following exercises to help your team members solve problems and make decisions together more effectively.

Exercise 1: Lost at Sea*

In this activity, participants must pretend that they've been shipwrecked and are stranded in a lifeboat. Each team has a box of matches, and a number of items that they've salvaged from the sinking ship. Members must agree which items are most important for their survival.

Download and print our team-building exercises worksheet to help you with this exercise.

This activity builds problem-solving skills as team members analyze information, negotiate and cooperate with one another. It also encourages them to listen and to think about the way they make decisions.

What You'll Need

  • Up to five people in each group.
  • A large, private room.
  • A "lost at sea" ranking chart for each team member. This should comprise six columns. The first simply lists each item (see below). The second is empty so that each team member can rank the items. The third is for group rankings. The fourth is for the "correct" rankings, which are revealed at the end of the exercise. And the fifth and sixth are for the team to enter the difference between their individual and correct score, and the team and correct rankings, respectively.
  • The items to be ranked are: a mosquito net, a can of petrol, a water container, a shaving mirror, a sextant, emergency rations, a sea chart, a floating seat or cushion, a rope, some chocolate bars, a waterproof sheet, a fishing rod, shark repellent, a bottle of rum, and a VHF radio. These can be listed in the ranking chart or displayed on a whiteboard, or both.
  • The experience can be made more fun by having some lost-at-sea props in the room.

Flexible, but normally between 25 and 40 minutes.


  • Divide participants into their teams, and provide everyone with a ranking sheet.
  • Ask team members to take 10 minutes on their own to rank the items in order of importance. They should do this in the second column of their sheet.
  • Give the teams a further 10 minutes to confer and decide on their group rankings. Once agreed, they should list them in the third column of their sheets.
  • Ask each group to compare their individual rankings with their collective ones, and consider why any scores differ. Did anyone change their mind about their own rankings during the team discussions? How much were people influenced by the group conversation?
  • Now read out the "correct" order, collated by the experts at the US Coast Guard (from most to least important): - Shaving mirror. (One of your most powerful tools, because you can use it to signal your location by reflecting the sun.) - Can of petrol. (Again, potentially vital for signaling as petrol floats on water and can be lit by your matches.) - Water container. (Essential for collecting water to restore your lost fluids.) -Emergency rations. (Valuable for basic food intake.) - Plastic sheet. (Could be used for shelter, or to collect rainwater.) -Chocolate bars. (A handy food supply.) - Fishing rod. (Potentially useful, but there is no guarantee that you're able to catch fish. Could also feasibly double as a tent pole.) - Rope. (Handy for tying equipment together, but not necessarily vital for survival.) - Floating seat or cushion. (Useful as a life preserver.) - Shark repellent. (Potentially important when in the water.) - Bottle of rum. (Could be useful as an antiseptic for treating injuries, but will only dehydrate you if you drink it.) - Radio. (Chances are that you're out of range of any signal, anyway.) - Sea chart. (Worthless without navigational equipment.) - Mosquito net. (Assuming that you've been shipwrecked in the Atlantic, where there are no mosquitoes, this is pretty much useless.) - Sextant. (Impractical without relevant tables or a chronometer.)

Advice for the Facilitator

The ideal scenario is for teams to arrive at a consensus decision where everyone's opinion is heard. However, that doesn't always happen naturally: assertive people tend to get the most attention. Less forthright team members can often feel intimidated and don't always speak up, particularly when their ideas are different from the popular view. Where discussions are one-sided, draw quieter people in so that everyone is involved, but explain why you're doing this, so that people learn from it.

You can use the Stepladder Technique when team discussion is unbalanced. Here, ask each team member to think about the problem individually and, one at a time, introduce new ideas to an appointed group leader – without knowing what ideas have already been discussed. After the first two people present their ideas, they discuss them together. Then the leader adds a third person, who presents his or her ideas before hearing the previous input. This cycle of presentation and discussion continues until the whole team has had a chance to voice their opinions.

After everyone has finished the exercise, invite your teams to evaluate the process to draw out their experiences. For example, ask them what the main differences between individual, team and official rankings were, and why. This will provoke discussion about how teams arrive at decisions, which will make people think about the skills they must use in future team scenarios, such as listening , negotiating and decision-making skills, as well as creativity skills for thinking "outside the box."

A common issue that arises in team decision making is groupthink . This can happen when a group places a desire for mutual harmony above a desire to reach the right decision, which prevents people from fully exploring alternative solutions.

If there are frequent unanimous decisions in any of your exercises, groupthink may be an issue. Suggest that teams investigate new ways to encourage members to discuss their views, or to share them anonymously.

Exercise 2: The Great Egg Drop*

In this classic (though sometimes messy!) game, teams must work together to build a container to protect an egg, which is dropped from a height. Before the egg drop, groups must deliver presentations on their solutions, how they arrived at them, and why they believe they will succeed.

This fun game develops problem-solving and decision-making skills. Team members have to choose the best course of action through negotiation and creative thinking.

  • Ideally at least six people in each team.
  • Raw eggs – one for each group, plus some reserves in case of accidents!
  • Materials for creating the packaging, such as cardboard, tape, elastic bands, plastic bottles, plastic bags, straws, and scissors.
  • Aprons to protect clothes, paper towels for cleaning up, and paper table cloths, if necessary.
  • Somewhere – ideally outside – that you can drop the eggs from. (If there is nowhere appropriate, you could use a step ladder or equivalent.)
  • Around 15 to 30 minutes to create the packages.
  • Approximately 15 minutes to prepare a one-minute presentation.
  • Enough time for the presentations and feedback (this will depend on the number of teams).
  • Time to demonstrate the egg "flight."
  • Put people into teams, and ask each to build a package that can protect an egg dropped from a specified height (say, two-and-a-half meters) with the provided materials.
  • Each team must agree on a nominated speaker, or speakers, for their presentation.
  • Once all teams have presented, they must drop their eggs, assess whether the eggs have survived intact, and discuss what they have learned.

When teams are making their decisions, the more good options they consider, the more effective their final decision is likely to be. Encourage your groups to look at the situation from different angles, so that they make the best decision possible. If people are struggling, get them to brainstorm – this is probably the most popular method of generating ideas within a team.

Ask the teams to explore how they arrived at their decisions, to get them thinking about how to improve this process in the future. You can ask them questions such as:

  • Did the groups take a vote, or were members swayed by one dominant individual?
  • How did the teams decide to divide up responsibilities? Was it based on people's expertise or experience?
  • Did everyone do the job they volunteered for?
  • Was there a person who assumed the role of "leader"?
  • How did team members create and deliver the presentation, and was this an individual or group effort?

Exercise 3: Create Your Own*

In this exercise, teams must create their own, brand new, problem-solving activity.

This game encourages participants to think about the problem-solving process. It builds skills such as creativity, negotiation and decision making, as well as communication and time management. After the activity, teams should be better equipped to work together, and to think on their feet.

  • Ideally four or five people in each team.
  • Paper, pens and flip charts.

Around one hour.

  • As the participants arrive, you announce that, rather than spending an hour on a problem-solving team-building activity, they must design an original one of their own.
  • Divide participants into teams and tell them that they have to create a new problem-solving team-building activity that will work well in their organization. The activity must not be one that they have already participated in or heard of.
  • After an hour, each team must present their new activity to everyone else, and outline its key benefits.

There are four basic steps in problem solving : defining the problem, generating solutions, evaluating and selecting solutions, and implementing solutions. Help your team to think creatively at each stage by getting them to consider a wide range of options. If ideas run dry, introduce an alternative brainstorming technique, such as brainwriting . This allows your people to develop one others' ideas, while everyone has an equal chance to contribute.

After the presentations, encourage teams to discuss the different decision-making processes they followed. You might ask them how they communicated and managed their time . Another question could be about how they kept their discussion focused. And to round up, you might ask them whether they would have changed their approach after hearing the other teams' presentations.

Successful decision making and problem solving are at the heart of all effective teams. While teams are ultimately led by their managers, the most effective ones foster these skills at all levels.

The exercises in this article show how you can encourage teams to develop their creative thinking, leadership , and communication skills , while building group cooperation and consensus.

* Original source unknown. Please let us know if you know the original source.

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  • Tests by Leading Employers
  • Consulting Assessment Preparation
  • McKinsey Problem Solving Game

McKinsey Problem Solving Game (Imbellus): a Complete Practice Guide to Pass the Digital Assessment

There is a lot of secrecy around the McKinsey Problem Solving Game, aka Imbellus.

This gamified assessment is used to filter out a large chunk of the many McKinsey applicants, and it’s supposedly crack-proof.

The internet is packed with blog posts, Reddit discussions, and forum threads about the McKinsey PSG, some even contradicting.

This information overload coupled with the huge importance of the test makes the whole preparation process nerve-wracking.

That’s why this practice guide strives to give you accurate and easy-to-digest information about your upcoming test.

It includes:

  • A complete overview of the mini-games
  • The best things to keep in mind while playing them
  • The most helpful practice options available right now
  • Useful tips and tactics to increase your chances of passing it

So, buckle up, and let’s get started.

Find out everything you need about the  McKinsey Problem Solving Game , aka Imbellus, and prepare using actual simulations!

McKinsey Problem Solving Game Expert

Hi, I'm David, JobTestPrep's expert for the McKinsey Digital Assessment. Have a question? Feel free to  send me an email at any time .

What is the McKinsey Problem Solving Game (PSG)?

The McKinsey Problem Solving Game, also named McKinsey Imbellus, McKinsey Digital Assessment, and Solve, is a gamified test that replaces the previous assessment, PST, in the recruiting process. The PSG consists of two mini-games lasting for 70 minutes and evaluates candidates on five key cognitive abilities.

Only candidates who pass this stage are invited to the next hiring step, the case interviews.

What Skills Does the PSG Evaluate?

The PSG evaluates the consulting traits and qualifications of a candidate and then compares them to a real McKinsey consultant. If the applicant appears similar or better than the actual consultant, they'll pass the test.

Five main thinking skills are being assessed :

  • Critical Thinking : The ability to solve problems by breaking them down into smaller parts.
  • Decision-Making Process : The ability to take in large amounts of information and process it efficiently to make the best possible decision within time constraints.
  • Meta Cognition : The ability to monitor your cognitive processes and improve them.
  • Situational Awareness : The ability to keep track of several tasks or activities concurrently.
  • Systems Thinking : The ability to identify the root causes of problems and possible solutions.

Do All Candidates Get the McKinsey Problem Solving Game?

As of 2024, almost all candidates for nearly all Mckinsey offices receive the Problem Solving Game. The PST, on the other hand, is no longer in use.

Get to Know the McKinsey PSG Format Inside Out

The Problem-Solving Game is sent to candidates once they pass the initial resume screening, making it the second hiring step.

McKinsey has created five mini-games, but you'll need to take only two of them. The most common ones are Ecosysystem Building and Redrock Study , and there are four other less common mini-games that only a fraction of the applicants receive (outlined below).

The time limit for the two common mini-games is 70 minutes , and for the others, it may range between 60 to 80 minutes. Each game will also have a tutorial, which is untimed.

Now, let's dive into each of the mini-games so you'll know what to expect on the test.

  • Ecosystem Building

The first mini-game you'll need to pass is Ecosystem Building. In this game, you'll be randomly placed in either a mountain ridge or a coral reef scenario.

McKinsey PSG Mountain Scenario Example

Your main objective in this mini-game is to build a sustainable ecosystem using exactly eight species from a collection of 39 species.

To achieve this goal successfully, you must strictly follow these guidelines:

  • Terrain specs : The chosen location in the ecosystem must provide suitable living conditions for all eight species.
  • Calories balance : Each species must be fed with enough calories from food to sustain itself.
  • Food chain continuity : Each species must not be eaten into extinction by its predators.

The gaming platform provides specific information to help you meet these guidelines (some are seen in the game's "guidebook"):

Terrain Specs

Each location in the ecosystem has seven to eight terrain specs. You can choose a location using a pinpoint.

Of these seven or eight specs, only four can be displayed at any given time, using a checklist table in the upper-right corner of the screen:

McKinsey Digital Assessment Terrain Specs Checklist Sample

Now, here's what's crucial about these living conditions:

Each species has specific terrain specs that have to be met. If they aren't met, the species won't survive, and you won't achieve the game's main objective.

Luckily, the species' living conditions usually come in ranges, allowing you to be more flexible with the species you choose for your ecosystem.

Additionally, each species has only two to four terrain specs , when Depth/Elevation and Temperature appear for all species:

McKinsey Imbellus Coral Reed Terrain Specs Example

Knowing that you only need to look at specific terrain specs on the checklist table helps eliminate species or locations that are not suitable for creating a sustainable ecosystem.

Food Chain Continuity

The 39 species are divided into producers and consumers.

Producers are plants and fungi (in the Mountain scenario) and corals and seaweeds (in the Coral Reef scenario). They don't have any calorie needs, so their "calories needed" spec is always zero.

Consumers are animals that eat either plants, other animals, or both. Some consumers are at the top of the food chain and therefore not eaten by any other species.

While creating the food chain, it's important to ensure that no species is eaten to extinction. This can be monitored using the " calorie needed " and the " calorie provided " specs that each species has (shown below).

Calories Balance

Each species has a calorie needed and a calorie provided, as you can see below:

McKinsey Imbellus Species Calories Example

A species lives if its "calories needed" are less than the sum of the calories provided by other species it eats (other consumers or providers).

Furthermore, the species' "calories provided" must be higher than the sum of the calories needed by other species that eat it.

The Main Challenges of the Ecosystem Building Mini-Game

Ecosystem creation is first of all a decision-making game.

You get all the information you need to deliver correct decisions so there's no uncertainty or inaccurate details.

The problem is that you have a vast amount of information to absorb, calculate, analyze, and prioritize . This includes the specs of 39 species, the terrain specs of each location, and eating rules.

Some of the information is irrelevant and is there to distract you or tempt you to make assumptions . In this mini-game, you must not make any assumptions and you don't need to have any environmental, ecological, or zoological knowledge.

So, your ability to make quick and accurate calculations and ignore irrelevant data will have a great impact on your performance.

The preparation course we recommend on this page includes a replica of McKinsey's Ecosystem Building game. It enables you to practice using a like-for-like game experience and learn about every single rule, move, and item in detail. Plus, you’ll master calculation methods and other tactics to ensure the food chain survives in your chosen location.

Redrock Study

The second mini-game you'll most likely encounter is Redrock Study. 

In the game's storyline, your task is to analyze the species inhabiting an island, which includes wolves and elks. The objective of your analysis is to formulate predictions and conduct various calculations , specifically focusing on percentages, by examining data on the evolution of the animal population.

The game has 4 sections:

  • Investigation   You will be presented with a written text that includes tables and graphs. Your task is to sort information and gather valuable data for the following test sections.
  • Analysis   You will be presented with 3 or 4 math problems ; each is separated into two parts. You will be given a calculator and a Research Journal to gather information relevant to the questions.
  • Report You will be presented with two types of questions - 
  • 5 written questions regarding your findings in the analysis section
  • 1 visual question in which you will need to choose a graph and use it to show what you found in the analysis.
  •  Cases You will be presented with 6 to 10 questions that are unrelated to the analysis you did so far. 

You will have 35 minutes to complete all four sections , with a short, non-timed break before each one. 

Alternative Mini-Games

As of 2024, the Ecosystem Building game is constant, but the second mini-game may vary in rare cases. This means that there's a slight chance you won't get the Plant Defense mini-game, but rather one of the three we show below.

Disaster Management

In the Disaster Management game, you have to identify what type of natural disaster has happened to an animal population in an ecosystem.

Then, based on the data and information given, you need to choose a different location that will ensure the survival of the ecosystem.

The Disaster Management mini-game has only one objective - the sustainability of the ecosystem, similar to the Ecosystem Building mini-game.

Disease Management

In the Disease Management mini-game, you have to identify patterns of a disease within an ecosystem and predict who will be infected next. You can then use the information given about each species to help you solve the problem.

Migration Management

Migration Management is a turn-based puzzle game. The candidate must direct the migration of 50 animals while helping them arrive at their destination with minimal casualties and with a pre-determined amount of resources.

  • Plant Defense

Plant Defense is a turn-based mini-game (similar to popular Tower Defense games). Your main objective is to defend a native plant that's located at the center of a 10x10, 10x14, or 12x12 grid from invader species, using defensive resources for as many turns as possible .

This mini-game consists of three maps, and each map is divided into two - the planning phase and the fast-forward phase. McKinsey recommends allocating 12 minutes per map, which makes it 36 minutes in total.

Planet Defence Example

The 36-minute time limit is not fixed though, as it depends on how long it took you to finish the first mini-game, Ecosystem Building.

Many candidates mention that the Plant Defense game is more challenging than the Ecosystem creation. So, keep that in mind while taking the first one and plan your time wisely .

Now, let's take a closer look at the different elements and resources of this mini-game:

Your base is the native plant that you have to defend from invaders at all costs. Once an invader reaches the base, you lose the game.

Note that eventually, everyone loses, and you can't hold your base forever. But the more turns you manage to survive, the better .

There are two types of invaders in the game - Groundhog and Fox. Their movements on the map are the same, and the only difference between them is the terrain type that holds them back (more on terrains below).

Once an invader appears on your map, it will choose the shortest path to reach your base plant. This path will be shown as a yellow arrow .

McKinsey Plant Defense Example

There are three types of terrains in the game:

  • Forest : Slows down the Groundhog for one turn
  • Rocky : Slows down the Fox for one turn
  • Cliff : Blocks both the Fox and the Groundhog from passing this square

Each terrain holds one grid on the map, and you cannot place terrain on a grid that already has another terrain or a defender on it (more on defenders below).

As opposed to terrains, defenders don't just slow down or block an invader, they eliminate it for good.

There are several defenders you can use in the game: Bobcat, Falcon, Wolf, Python, and Coyote.

Note that you won't see all of the defenders at once.

Each defender has two important specs you must take into account:

Range : Each defender can cover a pre-determined number of grids on the map. For example, a Python can cover only one grid, while a Falcon can cover as many as 13 grids.

Damage : Each defender can cause specific forms of damage to an invader's population. When an invader attacks, you'll be able to see its population number and the damage that your defender can cause him. A Wolf, for example, has a damaging impact of 60, while a Falcon has only 20.

The Main Challenges of the Plant Defense Mini-Game

In this mini-game, you have to make decisions based on limited information and face unexpected events (like new invaders from any direction). Also, you must achieve two simultaneous objectives - survive each of the turns separately and for as long as possible.

This is the complete opposite of the Ecosystem Building game, in which you have all the data in front of you, and you have just one objective.

Two things that can help you overcome these challenges are (1) preparing for the unexpected events that will happen during the game and (2) planning low-risk solutions based on your resources (terrains and defenders).

The prep course that we recommend on this page has the closest simulation possible to the actual Plant Defense game. It has the same gameplay, invaders, and resources, and it's based on the same algorithm that appears in the McKinsey Problem Solving Game. This will enable you to learn the most effective tactics to ensure your base plant survives as many turns as possible.

How to Beat the McKinsey Problem Solving Game?

The proven way to beat the McKinsey PSG is by properly preparing beforehand.

There's no way around it. That’s because the mini-games include an immense amount of information, rules, and patterns you must master . And they require you to use tactics and strategies that are not obvious and take time to plan and execute.

All of that is under great time pressure and the high stakes of possibly failing it and losing an opportunity to work at McKinsey.

Now, there are a few practice options you can use to get a better understanding of the PSG and improve your chances of passing it, with the PSG Interactive Simulation being the most accurate one.

McKinsey Problem Solving Game Practice Options

PSG Interactive Simulation

The  PSG Secrets simulation is an interactive platform that includes accurate practice for every part of McKinsey’s PSG. It mirrors what the actual game scenarios look like, what each button does, how the logic of the games works, how it generates the data, and more.

It has a full simulation option (two mini-games, 70 minutes), which includes:

  • A full video course in 24 videos and 2h30m of content on Ecosystem, Redrock, and Plant Defense
  • 2 excel solvers for the Ecosystem Game
  • 10 Redrock test drills specifically for the case section
  • 152 page-pdf guide 
  • 60-day money-back guarantee.
Tips to Improve Your Performance on the McKinsey Problem Solving Game

Here are several specific tips to help improve your overall performance on the test as well as tips to avoid any disturbances that could hurt your score:

#1 Sharpen Your Mental Math Abilities

The ability to make fast and accurate calculations can help a lot in this Problem-Solving Game. That’s because one wrong calculation might ruin your carefully built Ecosystem or cause an invader to reach your Native Plant.

There are several free apps and sites, like the renowned Khan Academy , that can help you improve your math skills quickly.

#2 Learn Fast Reading Skills

Mckinsey’s PSG requires you to absorb and analyze a tremendous amount of information under strict time constraints.

Fast reading skills come in handy in this test and can help reduce the amount of time needed to understand the numerous guidelines of the mini-games.

There are certain apps and browser extensions that allow you to practice this important skill , even on the go.

#3 Focus Only on What Matters

Don't get nervous when you first see the immense amount of data on the mini-games. That’s because a lot of the data is irrelevant, and you’ll be only using some particular parameters .

For example, in the Ecosystem game, you’ll only have to use specific species and terrain specs for your calculations, while ignoring others that are there only for distraction.

In the complete   PSG Simulation Practice , you’ll see how to remove as much as 70% of the irrelevant data and remain just with the information that matters.

#4 Ignore Outside Information

While taking the assessment, especially the Ecosystem game, try to ignore any outside knowledge and information.

For example, if you’ve learned biology or zoology and you see that your food-eating rules don’t seem logical but the numbers are correct, always go with the numbers .

If you start to rely on previous knowledge, you might get confused and mess up your progress in the game.

#5 Learn to Solve Problems Like a Consultant

The PSG measures your consulting traits and compares them to a model McKinsey consultant.

That’s why learning to think and solve problems like a real consultant can help you pass this assessment.

Two main problem-solving skills you should practice are decision-making in fully controlled situations and with limited information.

Both of these skills can be trained using complex strategy games (examples are mentioned above) as well as  practicing with the   full PSG interactive simulation .

#6 Cut Down on Calculation Time Using Microsoft Excel

Mental math is an effective way to make calculations in the mini-games.

But as you’re only human, it’s not error-free. That’s why using a calculation tool, such as Excel formulas, can be a great way to make super fast and accurate calculations.

You can use it to gather all the relevant data, arrange it with columns and formulas (even in advance!), and turn the whole process into a no-brainer.

That said, you’ll need to use another monitor (preferably with a different browser) or another laptop since the assessment’s platform will take over your entire screen.

#7 Prep Your Hardware and Internet Connection

The last thing you want during the assessment is a “blue screen of death.”

Blue Screen of Death Example

It may happen if your hardware is not strong enough, since the McKinsey PSG is pretty demanding in its system requirements.

Any computer that is more than five years old or without an HD screen will likely encounter lags and performance drops.

Also, you must have a fast and stable internet connection. If you get disconnected in the middle of the test, you might need to start all over again or even reschedule for another testing date.

The PSG scores are divided into two types -

  • Product score - the final outcome of your performance
  • Process score - the efficiency (time and number of clicks) of your performance 

If you get the   PSG Practice Simulation , you’ll have a mock grading system that monitors your results and behavioral patterns.

This will allow you to track your progress while you practice for the test and see which areas demand improvement.

Why Did McKinsey Develop the Problem-Solving Game?

McKinsey created the Problem-Solving Game as an unbiased way to identify candidates from around the globe with strong cognitive abilities. The former assessment, Problem Solving Test (PST), was less challenging for candidates who were familiar with standardized tests, such as SAT and GMAT, or used the numerous mock tests found online.

The PSG, on the other hand, is supposedly crack-proof. That's because it takes into account the approach you use to solve the problems and not just the final solution. This seemingly removes any lucky guessing and shortcut techniques that were common on the McKinsey PST.

While on the PST you had just your final score, on the PSG your score is comprised of dozens of scoring criteria apart from your final result , including mouse movement, keystrokes, and clicks.

McKinsey can analyze these factors for every recorded candidate, which allows them to compare candidates more fairly.

What Does Imbellus Mean?

Imbellus is a company that creates immersive simulation-based assessments to assess cognitive processes. To develop a new testing format for the McKinsey recruitment process, they've teamed up with McKinsey consultants and UCLA Cresst psychologists.

In 2020,  Imbellus was purchased by Roblox , an online gaming platform, to help sharpen its recruitment practices.

This was an in-depth prep guide for the McKinsey Problem Solving Game. It gave you an overview of the different mini-games, explained their main challenges, and offered some useful solving tips.

Additionally, you saw the best ways to prepare for the assessment, when the PSG Practice Simulation being the most realistic and accurate one.

Other JobTestPrep Assessments

  • Free SHL questions
  • What's on This Page
  • What Is the McKinsey PSG?
  • How to Beat the Games?
  • Best Practice Options
  • 7 Tips to Boost Your Performance

Office of International Education and Development

  • Cultural Simulations for Education Abroad Training

- BARNGA: A Simulation Game on Cultural Clashes.   Authors: Raja Thiagi Thiagarajan, Sivasailam Thiagarajan

This is a well-known simulation game on cultural clashes. Participants experience the shock of realizing that despite their good intentions and the many similarities among them, people interpret things differently from one another in profound ways, especially people from differing cultures. Players learn that they must understand and reconcile these differences if they want to function effectively in a cross-cultural group. This game can be used in many organization settings in order to provide Training & Education on cultural differences.


-  ECOTONOS: A Multicultural Problem-Solving Simulation .  Author: Dianne Hofner Saphiere

A powerful and extremely adaptable simulation, Ecotonos breaks the usual stereotypes and barriers. Participants improve their skills and strategies for multicultural collaboration and teamwork. Ecotonos can be used multiple times with the same people by selecting a new problem and different variables, with each replay offering new and different cross-cultural perspectives. Eight to fifty (or even a thousand) participants form three groups and create their own cultures. Participants begin to work in their monocultural groups, then mix groups to continue the task multiculturally. The simulation and debriefing require a minimum of two hours.

http://www.culturaldetective.com/relatedproducts.html  -  BAFA-BAFA: Simulation Training Systems .  Author: Garry Shirts

BaFa’ BaFa’ is a face-to-face learning simulation. It is intended to improve participants’ cultural competency by helping them understand the impact of culture on the behavior of people and organizations. Participants experience “culture shock” by traveling to and trying to interact with a culture in which the people have different values, different ways of behaving and different ways of solving problems. Two simulated cultures are created: an Alpha culture and a Beta culture. The director briefs the participants on the general purposes of the simulation and then assigns them membership in either the Alpha or Beta culture. Each group moves into its own area where members are taught the values, expectations and customs of their new culture.Once all of the members understand and feel comfortable with their new culture, each culture sends an observer to the other. The observers attempt to learn as much as possible about the values, norms and customs of the other culture without directly asking questions. After a fixed time, each observer returns to his or her respective culture and reports on what he or she observed. Based on the report of the observer, each group develops hypotheses about the most effective way to interact with the other culture. After the hypotheses have been formulated, the participants take turns visiting the other culture in small groups. After each visit, the visitors report their observations to their group. The group uses the data to test and improve their hypotheses.

http://www.stsintl.net/schools-and-charities/products/bafa-bafa/ -  An Alien Among Us: A Diversity Game . Author: Richard B. Powers

From a list of twelve candidates, players must select six to join the mission. The selection process involves acquiring information about the candidates and fully engages participants as they play against a group of experts who have all the candidate data. Players make their selections based on attributes that fall into nine categories: gender, age, religion, profession, health, nationality, reason for going, positive attributes, and negative attributes. In the process they discover that frequently their judgments are biased and influenced by stereotypes. Participants come to understand that differences and diversity are not synonymous with problems and difficulties but rather can enrich human experience. They discover that they have overlooked the benefits of the differences they were inclined to devalue. 

http://isbndb.com/d/book/an_alien_among_us.html  -  Redundancia: A Foreign Language Simulation .  Authors: Nipporica Associates

Requires 10 minutes to conduct and about 30 minutes to debrief. Participants experience speaking a language nonfluently: how it affects one's ability to stay focused and connected with the listener, and one's feelings of competence and confidence. Participants also experience listening to second language speakers: their own tendencies to help or to become distracted. Observers note the speaker's nonverbal communication.


  • Capability Development

Troubleshooting Simulation

Available as:

  • In-house class
  • Public class

The KT Troubleshooting Simulation invites learners to practice their problem-solving skills in a safe-to-fail virtual environment and accelerate the transfer of skills from the classroom to back on the job. Learners are challenged to apply their skills quickly and efficiently under pressure, including group discussions and real-time coaching from the instructor.

problem solving of simulation

What You Get:

  • 1 day led by an expert instructor
  • Multiple rounds of simulated scenarios to practice realistic troubleshooting
  • Certificate of completion
  • Certification Credits : 0.7 CEUs

To see the total select country, date and number of participants

To see the total select language, date and number of participants

In this county services are provided by the official KT licensee.

* Before applicable taxes

Class seats guaranteed with payment. Seat reservations held for 72 hours.

Contact us to inquire for more details or have the workshop customized upon your corporate needs.

Anyone who has taken a past KT Workshop that included KT Problem Analysis (e.g. Problem Solving and Decision Making, RCA, Problem Management, Analytic Trouble Shooting, etc.).

  • Shorten Time to Proficiency: Practice + feedback + repetition = proficiency! Hands-on practice, feedback from a KT Coach, group discussion, and repetition shortens the time between classroom learning and driving business results back on the job
  • Hands-on Group Practice: Perfect practice makes perfect. Learners break into small groups during the session to rapidly gather and analyze information presented in a variety of virtual simulation scenarios
  • Realistic Environment: The Troubleshooting Simulation creates an environment that closely reflects real-world problems in a safe-to-fail environment. Challenges include time pressure, information overload, managing multiple information sources, and consequences for unnecessary or poorly timed actions

Skills Developed

  • Learn to solve problems under pressure and restore operations safely and quickly
  • Prevent trial and error by narrowing down possible causes BEFORE taking action
  • Prevent recurring incidents and implement successful changes
  • Use only the appropriate amount of the troubleshooting process that the situation requires

Return on Investment

Global Telecommunications Company Achieves Four Times its Improvement Goal Using Troubleshooting Simulation

Workshop Details

Workshop Add-on

Make the most out of your KT training investment by adding a day of Troubleshooting Simulation to your KT Problem Solving workshop. This provides the learners an opportunity to practice the skills they just learned in a realistic (and fun) environment—which will help to cement the skills learned.

Refresh and Practice Session

For those who have attended a KT Problem Solving workshop two weeks or two years ago—use the KT Troubleshooting Simulation to sharpen skills and practice collaborative troubleshooting.


Training in a KT workshop that included Problem Analysis and Situation Appraisal (e.g. Problem Solving and Decision Making, Root Cause Analysis, Problem Management, etc.)

“[The simulation…] was a phenomenal addition to the content presented in the course. It reinforces the skills and shows real world application.” — Problem Manager at a major US bank
“We recently had the pleasure of a Kepner-Tregoe Robot Simulation Workshop to improve our troubleshooting skills. The tailored session [Robot Simulation] was relevant and valuable, providing a great framework to use for Problem Analysis. The very interactive workshop had our team thinking outside the square, challenging our norms and opening our minds to new concepts. The energy was terrific throughout the session, the KT Team were attentive, engaging and inclusive. The Robot Simulation enabled real-world problem analysis & the in-team competition with prizes created an exciting buzz! In our busy world of Service Delivery this half day [robot simulation] workshop was excellent value, lots of fun and extremely worthwhile. Absolutely time well spent. ” — Nadia Smith, Head of Service Delivery – Sportstbet
“KT’s troubleshooting simulation workshop is a fantastic way to learn how to solve problems under very realistic conditions. Teams can feel the time pressure and quickly learn how critical communication and documentation are for smooth trouble-free shift changes. The instructor noted that pilots don’t learn to fly airplanes by reading books, they practice in simulators. That’s exactly what simulation-based training is.” – Plant Manager, Automotive Tier 1 supplier

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problem solving of simulation

Agile workflow

5 Agile Games for Innovative Learning

5 Agile Games for Innovative Learning

Sean Blake

Agile software development uses iteration to improve agile practices. More than that, development teams use agile principles to enhance self-organization. Improving the Scrum framework leads to improvements in rapid deliverables and product outcomes through iteration.

But taking on agile when you're not familiar with this approach can be challenging. Team members need a bridging tool. A bridging tool like virtual team building activities supports new learning activities. New learning promotes new ways of thinking that promote continuous improvement. Enter, Agile games!

Learn how these games can support team-building and promote problem-solving for better software development processes, and which agile games to look for.

What are agile games?

Agile games are online games that entire teams can play. These games were created for team-building activities. They help nurture effective teams by getting everyone to work towards a common goal. When agile teams put their heads together, communicate effectively, and take on new learning, everyone wins — including product owners.

Team building games drive innovation by encouraging a new perspective through team-building exercises. Agile games are fun, but they are also practical. This practical approach enables team members to adopt new behaviors.

When they play agile games, teams implement better working methodologies in software development. Agile games support team building through new learning activities and iteration.

Ultimately, agile games augment the good communication and self-organization of DevOps teams. The outcome of playing agile games is that your team members more rapidly assimilate agile software.

As agile teams improve their problem-solving skills, they reap multiple benefits that might have fallen along the wayside if they didn't use an agile methodology or these agile games.

Types of agile games

There are multiple agile games that you can use to familiarize new teams with agile software. Tastycupcakes developed many of these simple games as ice breakers, which encourage introverts to participate more fully in Scrum practices. These games also help build multitasking skills in high-pressure DevOps environments, which any agile coach will be happy to use.

Now that you have some groundwork to help you understand the thinking behind agile games, you’re probably keen to find out what types of games you can play to build teamwork.

Here are a few agile games to whet your appetite. This list of games goes from the shortest to the longest playing times, each with its own objective.

1. Chocolate Bar Game

The Chocolate Bar Game is ideal for new teams who are unfamiliar with agile practices. Teamwork improves as the members play this game and learn more about iteration. Entire teams can also play this game to understand how to integrate customer feedback into their retrospectives.

You can either play the game in person or play an online game with remote teams.

The Chocolate Bar game works as a Scrum simulation. The goal is to create a chocolate bar as if you were taking instructions from the product owner. Development teams choose their product manager who can also be the product owner. The rest of the agile team are the customers.

The product owner acts as a facilitator, instructing team members to create a chocolate bar that appeals to the target market. This chocolate bar must be delicious and can be made from either dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate.

Additionally, the team can select a range of fillings to improve their product. Toppings and other unique features also come into play as teams can include organic or gluten-free features that cater to a niche market.

After each iteration, the project manager provides the team with customer feedback. Customers can give the software development team (or chocolate bar creation team) a thumbs up for their creation if they approve of the chocolate made by the agile team. Customers can also give team members a thumbs down if they don’t like the initial stages of their chocolate bar creation.

Teamwork involves recording customers' responses for changes before the next iteration, which involves the chocolate bar fillings. The team members will continue building their chocolate bar, adding or subtracting fillings and toppings until most customers are happy with their creation.

As you can see, playing the Chocolate Bar Game involves repetitive iteration based on customer feedback, which is the objective of this agile game.

2. How to Hug

How to Hug is a simple game for improving team collaboration, especially on a remote team. How to Hug is a great icebreaker when introducing new team members.

The Scrum team can access this agile team-building activity online. The entire team uploads their photos for display on the How to Hug virtual circle. The whole team can then vote to place their image at the circle's center.

Once the agile team has a central image, the rest of the members move their images to touch the Scrum Master's image at the circle's center.

Everyone has a chance to place their image at the center of the circle, and the team repeats the process. Although a simple game, this is one of those virtual team-building activities that involve lots of laughs.

Team members learn about each other during this virtual hugging session with collaboration and team bonding helping to create a great team.

3. Ball Point Game

The objective in playing Ball Point is for the Scrum team to navigate agile projects better. By understanding the agile production process, the team appreciates the importance of self-organization. Self-organization is the cornerstone for creating Scrum processes that work so that the entire team can engage in effective iteration.

Entire teams can play this game physically or online, using game icons on the virtual whiteboard.

The common goal is for the team to move a ball or several balls around the table. Team members must all touch the ball or balls once. After one team member touches the ball, the next person must do the same. The Scrum team earns a point if they successfully manage to move the ball around the table.

Each sprint lasts for three minutes, and the whole team must participate in five sprints to see who wins the Ball Point game. During the first sprint, the team discusses their strategy and takes notes to anticipate how many points they will score in the first minute.

The second minute involves moving the ball around the table. The Scrum team records their points and new learning in the third minute.

As the game progresses, teamwork intensifies as members add more balls in the following sprint rounds. As the team passes balls simultaneously, the game becomes more complex. More thinking is required in the iteration process as team members attempt to increase their scores. After each round, the teams engage in a brief retrospective to see what tactics they can use to score more points in the next sprint. Simple but effective!

4. Marshmallow Tower

This is an in-person team building activity, and the team will need a few supplies:

  • Dry spaghetti
  • One yard of tape
  • One yard of string
  • Marshmallows

Team members must engage in this learning activity in groups of four people. The Scrum master hands out 20 pieces of spaghetti to each team, along with the other provisions.

The objective here is to build the highest marshmallow tower with these items. The marshmallow tower must be freestanding, and team members must place all the marshmallows at the top of the structure. Some agile games use one marshmallow, while others match the marshmallow numbers with the spaghetti sticks.

Inevitably, the tower collapses as the team places the marshmallow on top. But the goal is to simulate the Scrum retrospective through several iterations. The whole team must quickly regroup through good communication and collaboration to improve each successive round.

The concept sounds simple, but its execution is deceptively tricky. Teams need to collaborate quickly, and you’re sure to see plenty of towers collapse at the last second as teams scramble to place the marshmallow on top of their structures.

But, repeat the challenge several times, and you’ll see teams refine their approaches to collaboration and iterate on their earlier creations.

5. LEGO Flow Game

The LEGO Flow game focuses on a Scrum simulation. Agile teams build a virtual LEGO Advent Calendar to detail work items in an efficient workflow. Each section of the workflow involves specific role players.

The common goal is to build the items, find the following advent calendar number (analysis) and then identify a set of LEGO pieces that must align with the supply source (suppliers).

The Scrum team builds (builders) the LEGO item as they progress through the game. Team members must engage in constant iteration to determine whether the build is correct and acceptable to the market representatives or product owner (acceptors).

Agile coaches will love using this game as it is an excellent tool to introduce new teams to Agile. LEGO Flow offers new teams the opportunity to engage in new learning activities through a simulated Scrum exercise.

LEGO Flow is an agile game that requires three rounds, each with its own objective. These objectives include batch and phase-driven processes together with time-boxed and flow-based processes.

After each of the three rounds, teamwork involves sprint retrospectives to understand what went well and what challenges the team encountered. The objective is to analyze the pros and cons of each sprint approach, demonstrating the benefits of teamwork. The game ends with the building of an overall Cumulative Flow Diagram.

This diagram allows the whole team to view its strategies and decisions, consider where they went wrong in each round of this agile game, and enhance their workflow.

If time allows, the Scrum master can question team members about what policy changes they would make for future sprints.

Agile games and team building activities

The whole team can transform their work-life with virtual team-building activities over Zoom. Having some fun while learning definitely beats using a physical whiteboard and sticky notes to introduce new teams to the Scrum framework.

Easy Agile apps are yet another innovative way to ease your new team into the Agile family. Dive into the world of Easy Agile Scrum Workflow for Jira that you can combine with LEGO Flow.

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General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology

Title: towards quantum gravity with neural networks: solving the quantum hamilton constraint of u(1) bf theory.

Abstract: In the canonical approach of loop quantum gravity, arguably the most important outstanding problem is finding and interpreting solutions to the Hamiltonian constraint. In this work, we demonstrate that methods of machine learning are in principle applicable to this problem. We consider U(1) BF theory in 3 dimensions, quantized with loop quantum gravity methods. In particular, we formulate a master constraint corresponding to Hamilton and Gauss constraints using loop quantum gravity methods. To make the problem amenable for numerical simulation we fix a graph and introduce a cutoff on the kinematical degrees of freedom, effectively considering U$_q$(1) BF theory at a root of unity. We show that the Neural Network Quantum State (NNQS) ansatz can be used to numerically solve the constraints efficiently and accurately. We compute expectation values and fluctuations of certain observables and compare them with exact results or exact numerical methods where possible. We also study the dependence on the cutoff.

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How To Run a Metal Powder Bed Fusion Simulation in Autodesk Fusion 

Thomas Stock

Metal Powder Bed Fusion simulations enable teams to identify errors before production. Learn how to run them in Autodesk Fusion. 

As manufacturing standards and component performance requirements rise, the demand for additive manufacturing simulation tools has increased. This is especially true for Metal Powder Bed Fusion (MPBF), which is gaining traction in the aerospace and automotive industries. 

Metal Powder Bed Fusion, as referred to in Autodesk Fusion, encapsulates SLM, DMLS, and EBM additive manufacturing technologies. 

Given the intricacies of MPBF technology, simulating this manufacturing process in advance becomes crucial to validating engineering work and optimizing processes. Essentially this process enables teams to visually identify design errors before actual production. 

This article will explore the MPBF process simulation workflow in Autodesk Fusion. For more information on the general additive manufacturing simulation workflow, please read this recent article .   

What is a Metal Powder Bed Fusion process simulation?

Metal Powder Bed Fusion process simulations are the thermo-mechanical analysis of parts manufactured using MPBF. Autodesk Fusion simulates a part’s behavior during the additive manufacturing process using a multi-scale modeling approach. The simulated results show predicted displacement and projected print failures, like interference with the additive machine’s recoater blade.  For a more detailed explanation of the simulation approach, please read this page . 

What are the benefits of running Metal Powder Bed Fusion process simulations?

The main benefit of simulating the additive manufacturing process is to minimize defects and failures where the issues within the build may arise. This allows the user to compensate through redesign or via automatic compensation, therefore improving predictability and reliability, decreasing time, and increasing resource and cost savings. 

How do I run a Metal Powder Bed Fusion process simulation in Autodesk Fusion?

MPBF workflows, including process simulation, can be accessed in Fusion via the Autodesk Fusion Manufacturing Extension . This extension enables support structure and toolpath creation and simulation of the MPBF Fusion process. 

There are three main stages to an additive manufacturing process simulation: 

1. Generating a mesh

The preliminary step of simulating the Metal Powder Bed Fusion process in Fusion is to create a setup with an MPBF machine in Fusion to ensure that the model is correctly oriented and supported. 

From this, the first step is to generate a mesh of the setup. This is crucial since a voxel representation of your model is required in to fully simulate the process and its effects.  For an in-depth explanation of the mesh settings, please read our Autodesk Netfabb Local Simulation Mesh Settings help page . 

Metal Powder Bed Fusion process simulation Autodesk Fusion

The second step is to initiate the solver by clicking “solve” on the next dialog box.

Fusion Process Parameters Solve Dialog

Progress can be tracked using the CAM task manager. 

Fusion CAM task manager

3. Analyzing the simulated results

problem solving of simulation

The third step is to analyze the simulated results. Once the solving is complete, you will be presented with a visual representation of the displacement of certain areas of the model. This can be changed to other useful visual options such as: 

  • Displacement (mm) 
  • Global Recoater Clearance % 
  • Structure Type 
  • Global Recoater Risk 
  • Local Recoater Risk 
  • Interlayer Temperature (°C) 

problem solving of simulation

Finally, you can either run the build if the results look good or, export a compensated STL of the build. A compensated STL will pre-distort the geometry, meaning that the final part distorts into the correct shape.

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