Helium Hoop

To provide an opportunity for students who can maintain a vision of a goal their group has to achieve, to show leadership and coach their group members towards the goal. Helium Hoop also creates a space in which leaders can learn to sense the energy of a group. Often times, a group will face conflict when they are in the middle of a project. We use this activity to help the students name that conflict and move forward.

Author: Urban EdVenture Faculty


Print30-45 minutes

Students will learn to work together as a team to accomplish the goal of lowering the “helium hoop” to the ground while maintaining physical contact with the hoop at all times.


Hula hoops (one hoop per every 3-4 students)

  1. Give the students the following instructions.

  2. Separate into groups of 3-4 and have one member of your group come get a hoop.

  3. Your group’s goal is to lower your “helium hoop” to the ground while maintaining physical contact with the hoop at all times. 

  4. Stand in a circle facing inwards.

  5. Place your hands out in front of you with the helium hoop on your outstretched index fingers. Make sure your elbows are bent, with your index fingers pointing forward (stretched out straight). The starting position is about the average chest height of the group’s members.

  6. Every member of the group must maintain contact with the hoop with both of their index fingers at all times. Only your index fingers can touch the hoop. Fingers must remain straight, no “hooking.” If any person’s breaks contact with the hoop, your group must begin again in the starting position.

  7. Focus on yourself, rather than copying what your teammates are doing.

  8. Okay, get in position and, GO! Lower your helium hoop to the ground!

  9. Note: Obviously, the hoop does not contain helium. The secret is that the force of the group’s fingers tends to overshadow the weight of the hoop, causing it to float upwards.


Debrief as a group or have students quietly reflect on the experience through writing about the following questions:

  • What was challenging about this activity? What made it challenging?
  • Did anyone emerge as a leader? What did they do to demonstrate a leadership quality?
  • What leadership skills did you or your team members use to help the group complete the task successfully?
  • How did the actions of your group relate to the Service Learning Project you are working on?
  • What leadership skills will you take from this activity and apply to your project?