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The Envelope Experiment - Encouraging Creativity and Resourcefulness


In the envelope experiment, teams of students are given envelopes containing undisclosed amounts of money, usually only 2-5 dollars, and told that once they open the envelope, they have two hours to make as much money as possible. Teams can plan for as long as they like before opening the envelope. At the end of the experiment, teams present their plans, strategies, and results in class. 

The linked article contains the transcript of a talk given by Tina Seelig, the creator of the money experiment, about the use and application of the experiment. She gives her experience of how the experiment fostered creativity among students and how they amaze her year after year. The most successful students realize that their most valuable assets are not inside of the envelope. 

Some of the creative solutions that her students have come up with include:
  • Charging students a dollar to test and fill their bike tires
  • Making and selling reservations at popular restaurants
  • Selling their time and talents
  • Selling their in-class presentation time to companies looking to recruit the students

Key Points

  • The envelope experiment encourages students to be creative and to experiment
  • Teaches students the value of action vs. the value of planning



 Link to original article


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