Students are arranged into groups of 2-4. First they formulate their answers to written questions, then they work together as a group to respond to a challenge at the end of the activity.

For the first few questions, think about all of the different kinds of things that you do at home, at school, at your friends’ houses, or really anyplace.

Name one of your least favorite things to do.

1a. Can you tell me what it’s like for you to do [named activity]?

1b. Can you explain why [named activity] is one of your least favorite things to do?

1c. How does [named activity] affect the rest of your life?  How would the rest of your life be different if you didn’t do this?

2. Now imagine that you were transported to a world where magic is real like in Harry Potter. Then, a magician in that world gives you a magic box with a big button on it. The magician says that you don’t have to use the magic box if you don’t want to. He also explains that if you push the button the magic box will automatically [do the tedious activity] for you.  So it will be like someone else did the activity for you, but magically it is just done.  [clarify with their example]

What do you think of this magic box?

2a. What questions (if any) would you want to ask the magician about the magic box?

2b. Would you rather use the magic box to do your least favorite activity or would you rather do it yourself?

2c. What are some other activities that you would use the magic box for instead of doing them yourself?

2d. So what is it about the activities that you listed that makes it so that you’d rather use a magic box than do them yourself?

2e. Are there any other activities that you can think of that you really don’t like to do but that you would rather do yourself instead of using the magic magic box?

3. Now, Name one of your favorite things to do.

3a. Can you tell me what it’s like for you to do [named activity]

3b. Can you explain why [named activity] is one of your most favorite things to do?

3c. How does [named activity] affect the rest of your life?  How would the rest of your life be different if you didn’t do this?

4. Imagine that you are back in the strange world with the magic box with the big button. Remember that if you push the button the magic box will automatically perform your chosen activity for you, producing the end result of your activity with no effort on your part aside from pushing the button. [Clarify with their example]

4a. Do you have any more thoughts about the magical magic box or questions for the magician?

4b. Would you rather use the magic box to do your favorite activity or would you rather do it yourself?

4c. What are some other activities that you would not use the magic box for?

4d. So what is it about the activities that you listed that makes it so that you’d rather do them yourself than let the magic box do them for you?

Magic Box Group Activity

Now, imagine that someone you don’t know is also transported to the world of magic.  The same magician offers them the magic box.  This stranger is really not sure whether or not they should use the magic box and asks the magician for his opinion.  The magician suggests that the stranger asks you because you’ve already given it a lot of thought.  So, the stranger sends you a short note that says “I am not sure whether it is a good idea to use the magic box or what I should use it for. Can you help me understand what a healthy relationship to this magic box look like?”

This activity was designed by Center Graduate Fellow David Phelps.