Marco Polo

  • Objective(s): Ideal for explaining to participants how a mobile phone works, and how we receive sms messages, phone calls and mobile data on our devices.
  • Length: 15 minutes
  • Format: Exercise
  • Skill level: Basic
  • Required knowledge:
    • None required
  • Related sessions/exercises:
  • Needed materials:
    • Creativity!

This exercise is based on the “Marco Polo” exercise created by Fundación Karisma

Leading the exercise

  1. Choose someone from the group to play the role of a “Mobile Phone” – once you have a volunteer, ask her to leave the room.

  2. Using the space that you have, divide the rest of the group into “Buildings” and “Antennas” and ask them to distribute themselves throughout the room. Make sure that the antennas are spread evenly, so that each can define their own “quadrant” of the room.

  3. Ask the Mobile Phone to come back into the room, and to close her eyes. Explain that she needs to locate all of the Antennas in the room by calling out “Marco” - the Antennas will respond with “Polo” but only if the Mobile Phone passes through their quadrant (the Buildings will remain silent).

  4. Have the Mobile Phone attempt to locate all the Antennas by calling out “Marco” – once she has located all of them, you can now explain the basic functions of a mobile phone network:

    • Cell carriers operate antennas in different areas, each of which provides coverage for a specific zone (or quadrant);
    • Mobile phones receive coverage by sending out a request to new antennas they encounter (“Marco”) as they move from place to place, which antennas then reply to (“Polo”) by providing cell coverage.