Unequal Pasta challenge

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This game is to highlight how varied the countries are around the world & how they are affected by poorer resources/working rules & conditions. This can be used to demonstrate Fair Trade as part of the Global Issues badge. Two teams are given different types of pasta - one is considerably easier to work with than the other (see below). They are both asked to separate pieces of pasta into 10cm strips, but only one team is given a ruler to use (the other has to guess). Half way through the challenge, change the rules - they now have to separate the pasta into 20cm strips.

Edit by BSO 2nd Kuala Lumpur - fantastic game, thank you. We adapted for 4 Sixes by having 1 team spaghetti (had ruler), 1 team udon/flat noodles (had ruler), 1 team glass/rice noodles and 1 more spaghetti but had to use chopsticks, not fingers to move the spaghetti :-)


Sandwich box of cooked spaghetti (rinsed in cold water with a little oil to make sure it separates easily)
Sandwich box of cooked noodles (NOT rinsed or oiled, so it is all clumpy)
Suitable surface for laying pasta out on


1. Divide young people into 2 teams: 1. Gets the spaghetti & 2. Gets the noodles.
2. Team spaghetti also gets a ruler.
3. Ask them both to take 5 mins to produce strips of pasta that are 10cm long & lay them out neatly.
4. After a few minutes, tell them there has now been a change of plan for the noodles team & they now have to lay out strips that are 20cm.
5. At the end of the game, measure some of the strips from both teams & comment on how accurate they have each been (obviously team spaghetti should have been better with the ruler).
6. Explain how team noodles was disadvantaged with poorer quality ingredients, no measuring equipment (ruler) & an unfair rule change half way through the exercise - this reflects world trade where the richer countries have superior resources, advanced technology/communications & rules that often favour them. For Beavers, a brief explanation is all that is required here, but maybe older sections could reflect & discuss this in more depth?


  • Developing countries
  • fair trade
  • Fair Trade game
  • Global issues
  • world issues

Badge Links

  • Global Issues - Fairtrade
  • Global Issues - Fairtrade