Exploding Atom

Number of Players


What Is It and Why Use It?

Exploding Atom is an out-of-your-seat strategy in which participants express their opinion on their own continuum spoke that starts at the center and moves to the outer most point of the standing circle space. Like Vote with Your Feet, this strategy allows participants to see range of opinions in their class while embodying their own opinion.


Before the activity, create a series of statements on a topic that will evoke a range of opinions from participants. For example: Everyone is equal in America. The full group stands in a large, open space in a circle.  Explain that a statement will be read. If the participant agrees with the statement they should come as close to the center of the circle as possible. (It can be helpful to model this action.) If the participant disagrees with the statement they should stand as far away from the center as possible within a set boundary. (It can be helpful to model this action). Show how each participant is on his/her own continuum between “agree” and “disagree” in their response to each statement. Take any questions. Read the first statement and ask participants to vote with their bodies by moving to the place that best expresses their response between Yes, I agree and No, I disagree. When desired stop and unpack or process the participants responses to the statements. Someone who is standing closer to “I agree,” please share why. Then, Someone who is standing closer to “I disagree,” please share why. Or, Please turn to the person next to you and share why you are standing where you are standing. Re-set the group to a neutral circle between statements to prepare for the next prompt.

  • What did you notice about the responses in the room?
  • What did we learn about the group from this activity? Where we most in agreement? Why?
  • How might these statements make us think differently or understand more about our larger inquiry?
Possible Side-Coaching
  • Remember, this is about your opinion. There is no right or wrong response to the statements.
  • Remember to be respectful of each other’s opinions and positions.
  • Let’s hear from the where the largest group is standing first, would anyone like to share why they are standing where they are? (Always make sure that the smallest group has the last word.)
  • No one has to speak. People can say “pass” or “it’s been said.”
Possible Variations/Applications
  • Place a water bottle (or other object) in the middle of the circle for the participants to see where “agree” is or make connections between the title of the game (Exploding Atom) and the strong pull of electrons in the nucleus “agree” and the weak pull of electrons on the edge of the atom “disagree.”
  • After each discussion allow participants to reassess their placement and move if they choose.
  • See related sociometric variations.
Source Citations

Jonathon Sullivan