MIT announces 2023 Bose Grants for daring new research

- Posted in Uncategorized by

MIT Provost Cynthia Barnhart has announced three Professor Amar G. Bose Research Grants to support bold research projects across diverse areas of study including engineering, animal behavior, and human movement.

This year's recipients are Kaitlyn Becker, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and the d’Arbeloff Career Development Professor in Mechanical Engineering; Canan Dagdeviren, associate professor and the LG Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences; and Luca Daniel, professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

“Creativity and a willingness to take risks drive discovery and innovation, an approach that honors Amar Bose’s legacy of work,” says Barnhart. “These talented faculty members have the opportunity to push the boundaries of their fields of research thanks to the support of this program, which seeks to fund daring projects and ideas.”

The program was named for the visionary founder of the Bose Corp. and MIT alumnus, Amar G. Bose ’51, SM ’52, ScD ’56. After gaining admission to MIT, Bose became a top math student and a Fulbright Scholarship recipient. He spent 46 years as a professor at MIT, led innovations in sound design, and founded the Bose Corp. in 1964. MIT launched the program 11 years ago to provide funding over a three-year period to MIT faculty who propose original, cross-disciplinary, and often risky research projects that would likely not be funded by conventional sources.

Swapping stones for glass

Hundreds of millions of tons of material from construction and demolition — mostly concrete — make their way into landfills each year. To reduce this waste and turn to more renewable sources of building materials, Becker is making an unexpected suggestion: why not build out of glass?

Her proposal, “Ditching Stones for Glass Houses,” envisions design space and manufacturing technologies to produce strong, versatile, and recyclable glass structural blocks. Becker hopes that this research could even be expanded to serve future space missions by offering a way to turn the moon’s rubble-like ground cover directly into building materials on the lunar surface.

“While my research and publication history are predominantly in soft robotics, my expertise and research interest is more broadly the design and manufacturing of novel systems that leverage unique material properties, which often come with highly constrained design and manufacturing spaces,” she explains.

Becker’s interest in glass began in 2006 when she was a first-year student working in the MIT glass lab, and she is excited to combine that artisanal interest with her professional expertise. “This will be the most substantial project I’ve undertaken, with the greatest potential for positive environmental and societal impact.”

What’s the buzz?

The wearable sensors that Dagdeviren and students in her Conformable Decoders research group at the MIT Media Lab have been developing to track human health are getting a new purpose: to study the behavior of individual honeybees and how those behaviors add up to swarm intelligence.

In her proposal, “Conformable surface acoustic wave sensors to study swarm intelligence in honeybees,” Dagdeviren explains how she will work with material scientists, electronics engineers, and data visualization experts to develop a tiny and flexible sensor tag for each bee. They will also develop the hardware on the tag to allow its signals to be sent wirelessly and design the software to collect and combine data from the tagged bees.

The findings could help researchers document how climate change is impacting communication among bees, she notes. A better understanding of swarm intelligence could also provide new insights into how humans interact socially in individual-centered and multifaceted societies.

“While we have successfully deployed piezoelectric-based sensors for targeted medical interventions involving the human brain, heart, stomach, and limbs, designing wearable sensors for bees … is a new challenge for us, which makes it unattractive to traditional grant sources,” Dagdeviren says.

Excellence in human movement

Picture a shortstop perfectly slinging a ball to first base, a ballroom dancer stepping through the intricacies of the Viennese waltz, or a karate black belt moving effortless through a kata. Are there some fundamental principles behind all of these organized movements — no matter how they’re practiced?

That’s a question that Daniel hopes to answer with his proposal, “Investigating the Elements of Organized Human Movement.” He was intrigued by the question in part due to his own experiences as part of the U.S. and Italian national teams for ballroom dancing and the bocce world championships, and will be working with Armin Kappacher, head of the MIT ballroom dancing team.

The study will relate the properties of joints to more expansive properties such as “elegance of movement,” says Daniel. The goal is to propose a basis for composing organized human movement where external force is distributed efficiently throughout the body’s rigid bones and elastic connective tissues.

“Imagine now that human beings manage to understand the core principles behind organized movement and distill them to provide general education toward healthy movement,” he notes. “This kind of healthy movement education will not only protect us from injuries, but will also keep our brain and body more functional with age, thus improving the quality of human life, while reducing health-care burden.”

Source: MIT announces 2023 Bose Grants for daring new research

J-PAL North America and Results for America announce 18 collaborations with state and local governments

- Posted in Uncategorized by

J-PAL North America and Results for America have announced 18 new partnerships with state and local governments across the country through their Leveraging Evidence and Evaluation for Equitable Recovery (LEVER) programming, which launched in April of this year

As state and local leaders leverage federal relief funding to invest in their communities, J-PAL North America and Results for America are providing in-depth support to agencies in using data, evaluation, and evidence to advance effective and equitable government programming for generations to come. The 18 new collaborators span the contiguous United States and represent a wide range of pressing and innovative uses of federal Covid-19 recovery funding.

These partnerships are a key component of the LEVER program, run by J-PAL North America — a regional office of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) — and Results for America — a nonprofit organization that helps government agencies harness the power of evidence and data. Through 2024, LEVER will continue to provide a suite of resources, training, and evaluation design services to prepare state and local government agencies to rigorously evaluate their own programs and to harness existing evidence in developing programs and policies using federal recovery dollars.

J-PAL North America is working with four leading government agencies following a call for proposals to the LEVER Evaluation Incubator in June. These agencies will work with J-PAL staff to design randomized evaluations to understand the causal impact of important programs that contribute to their jurisdictions’ recovery from Covid-19.

Connecticut’s Medicaid office, operating out of the state’s Department of Social Services, is working to improve vaccine access and awareness among youth. “Connecticut Medicaid is thrilled to work with J-PAL North America. The technical expertise and training that we receive will expand our knowledge during ‘testing and learning’ interventions that improve the health of our members,” says Gui Woolston, the director of Medicaid and Division of Health Services. 

Athens-Clarke County Unified Government is invested in evaluating programming for youth development and violence prevention implemented by the Boys and Girls Club of Athens. Their goal is “to measure and transparently communicate program impact,” explains Paige Seago, the data and outcomes coordinator for the American Rescue Plan Act. “The ability to continually iterate and tailor programs to better meet community goals is crucial to long-term success.”

The County of San Diego’s newly formed Office of Evaluation, Performance, and Analytics is evaluating a pilot program providing rental subsidies for older adults. “Randomized evaluation can help us understand if rent subsidies will help prevent seniors from becoming homeless and will give us useful information about how to move forward,” says Chief Evaluation Officer Ricardo Basurto-Dávila. 

In King County, Washington, the Executive Climate Office is planning to evaluate efforts to increase equitable access to household energy efficiency programs. “Because of J-PAL's support, we have confidence that we can reduce climate impacts and extend home electrification benefits to lower-income homeowners in King County — homeowners who otherwise may not have the ability to participate in the clean energy transition,” says King County Climate Director Marissa Aho.

Fourteen additional state and local agencies are working with Results for America as part of the LEVER Training Sprint. Together, they will develop policies that catalyze sustainable evidence building within government. 

Jurisdictions selected for the Training Sprint represent government leaders at the city, county, and state levels — all of whom are committed to creating an evaluation framework for policy that will prioritize evidence-based decision-making across the country. Over the course of 10 weeks, with access to tools and coaching, each team will develop an internal implementation policy by embedding key evaluation and evidence practices into their jurisdiction’s decision-making processes. Participants will finish the Training Sprint with a robust decision-making framework that translates their LEVER implementation policies into actionable planning guidance. 

Government leaders will utilize the LEVER Training Sprint to build a culture of data and evidence focused on leveraging evaluation policies to invest in delivering tangible results for their residents. About their participation in the LEVER Training Sprint, Dana Williams from Denver, Colorado says, “Impact evaluation is such an integral piece to understanding the past, present, and future. I'm excited to participate in the LEVER Training Sprint to better inform and drive evidence-based programming in Denver.”

The Training Sprint is a part of a growing movement to ground government innovation in data and evidence. Kermina Hanna from the State of New Jersey notes, “It’s vital that we cement a data-driven commitment to equity in government operations, and I’m really excited for this opportunity to develop a national network of colleagues in government who share this passion and dedication to responsive public service.”

Jurisdictions selected for the Training Sprint are: 

  • Boston, Massachusetts;
  • Carlsbad, California;
  • Connecticut;
  • Dallas, Texas;
  • Denver City/County, Colorado;
  • Fort Collins, Colorado;
  • Guilford County, North Carolina;
  • King County, Washington;
  • Long Beach, California;
  • Los Angeles, California;
  • New Jersey;
  • New Mexico;
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and
  • Washington County, Oregon.

Those interested in learning more can fill out the LEVER intake form. Please direct any questions about the Evaluation Incubator to Louise Geraghty and questions about the Training Sprint to Chelsea Powell.

Source: J-PAL North America and Results for America announce 18 collaborations with state and local governments

Report: Google’s money was “key” factor in Apple rejecting Bing purchase

- Posted in Uncategorized by
iPhone showing a Bing upgrade prompt

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

A few years before Microsoft went all-in on a ChatGPT-powered Bing search engine, the company had another idea for its perennial, also-ran search engine: sell it to Apple.

A report in Bloomberg, sourced from people familiar with the early theoretical sales talks, states that Microsoft pitched Bing as a way for Apple to replace Google as the default search provider on iPhones, MacBooks, and other devices.

The deal didn't make it past the conversation stage, according to Bloomberg. Microsoft executives approached Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of services, who brokered Apple's deal with Google—purportedly worth between $4 and $7 billion in 2020—for Google's long-standing default placement. Google's paid presence on Apple devices has been reviewed in court recently as part of the Department of Justice's antitrust trial over Google's search business.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Source: Report: Google’s money was “key” factor in Apple rejecting Bing purchase

iPhone 15 and 15 Pro review: The final form

- Posted in Uncategorized by
iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max lined up on a table


It has been six years since the iPhone X hit store shelves, but at a glance, 2023’s iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro aren't all that different. Thanks to a few steps of iteration, though, these smartphones still feel like an upgrade—maybe not compared to last year’s iPhone, but certainly compared to 2017's, or even 2020’s.

Although I don’t have any insight into what’s coming next year, the iPhone 15 seems like the final form of a product that has gone through a multi-year cycle. It sees Apple cementing a likely long-term strategy of treating the cheaper model as a rerun of the previous year’s pro model, it addresses one of the longest-standing complaints about iPhones (even if Apple’s hand was forced by regulation), and it refines a tried-and-true design.

The iPhone 15, its pricier siblings, and its strong competitors on the Android side make the case that, for better or worse (mostly better), we’ve reached peak smartphone.

Read 75 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Source: iPhone 15 and 15 Pro review: The final form

Here's how to request free at-home COVID tests in Minnesota

- Posted in Uncategorized by

Minnesotans can now order rapid at-home COVID-19 tests each month for free through the state health department while supplies last.

Source: Here's how to request free at-home COVID tests in Minnesota

Studying cancer in context to stop its growth

- Posted in Uncategorized by

Proteins called transcription factors are like molecular traffic cops that tell genes when to stop and go. If they malfunction — what scientists refer to as dysregulation — transcription factors stop orchestrating healthy gene expression and instead become a driving force for diseases like cancer.

Unsurprisingly, dysregulated transcription factors have garnered a lot of attention from researchers hoping to create new treatments for disease. But transcription factors have proven hard to drug, in part because they work in the context of various interdependent signaling molecules in the cell.

The MIT spinout Kronos Bio is studying those larger signaling networks to find new ways to disrupt transcription factor activity. By viewing transcription factors in their natural cellular context, the company believes it can develop more effective treatments to the many diseases that are driven by out-of-control transcription.

A key enabling technology for Kronos is a screening tool that allows scientists to study how transcription factors interact with other molecules. Kronos founder and MIT associate professor of biological engineering Angela Koehler has made important contributions to the tool over nearly two decades, and she continues to use it to study transcription factors in her lab today.

“Transcription factors never work in isolation,” Kronos Bio CEO Norbert Bischofberger says. “They work through multiple complex protein complexes. Angela spearheaded screening compounds in the cellular context they work in, and we’re building on that work.”

Kronos is already targeting the mother of all disease-associated transcription factors, known as MYC, in clinical trials. MYC is in every cell, but certain tumor cells overexpress MYC dramatically, relying on its constant transcription to drive cancer growth. Kronos is currently running a phase 1/2 study with patients who have relapsed or resistant MYC-dependent tumors, including patients with ovarian cancer and triple-negative breast cancer. The company’s other drug in clinical trials targets a molecule associated with dysregulated transcription in acute myeloid leukemia.

If the trials are successful, Kronos believes its approach will allow it to develop treatments for a number of other cancers associated with transcription dysfunction.

“If you look at the Tumor Genome Atlas, roughly half of all tumors have amplified MYC, and if you look at triple negative breast and ovarian cancer, it’s 80 percent,” Bischofberger explains. “If you could find drugs that essentially reduce amplified MYC levels, you could take out a broad swath of human tumors for which MYC is a driver of the malignant phenotype. It’s a huge opportunity to improve patient lives.”

From platform to product

Koehler’s interest in transcription factors dates back to the early 2000s. As an investigator at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she is still a member, she was part of a group that developed a low-cost way to screen molecules for different binding properties. The approach could be used to find molecules that modulate transcription factors, and it garnered interest from pharmaceutical companies.

“What industry really liked was we didn’t need to purify a protein to run a screen,” Koehler explains. “We could come in with large protein complexes from cells, or potentially even patient cells, and look for our target of interest in a protein complex, which reflected a more native state to evaluate molecules.”

When Koehler started her lab at MIT, she used the approach to find molecules that bind to MYC. Many attempts to target MYC have failed over decades of drug development because it’s a difficult protein for molecules to latch on to.

“The problem is MYC is in this bucket of targets many call undruggable,” Koehler says. “It’s a transcription factor and it’s super floppy. It lacks shape and it’s highly disordered, so it’s difficult for molecules to find a binding pocket.”

Koehler and her collaborators presented their early work on the MYC-binding molecule at a conference, sparking interest from investors.

“The next two or three months, my office was like a revolving door for venture capitalists wanting to talk not just about the molecule, but to understand the platform we used to discover the molecule — that’s actually where there was more interest,” Koehler recalls.

She started Kronos Bio later that year, working with MIT’s Technology Licensing Office to license the screening platform and a few specific molecules for the company. The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation funded some of Koehler’s early work, and Koehler, who became faculty director of the center this summer, also says it helped connect her to investors and others in the biotech industry.

Two members of Koehler’s lab became the first two employees of the company. Then Koehler met Bischofberger, who had spent 27 years as the head of research and development at Gilead Sciences and was looking to move into a startup.

Since then, Kronos has taken a winding path to developing the final molecules currently being studied in its clinical trials. (That initial molecule she presented at the conference didn’t pan out.) Some of Kronos’ preclinical work was done in conjunction with the Broad Institute, where Koehler is an Institute Member. Koehler, who is also the associate director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the founder of the MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine, sits on the Kronos Bio scientific advisory board and says she’s following along with the company’s clinical progress like everyone else.

“What you’re looking for as a founder is the right group of people who you trust to make the right decisions,” Koehler says. “I’m a mom of four, and I often say it’s like you’re looking for the right college to send your kids to, but then you’ve got to step back and let them live their own life. That’s how I view it.”

Drugging the undruggable

Kronos Bio’s drug candidates are taken orally once a day, which allows patients to skip frequent trips to hospitals for IV infusions. In addition to targeting MYC-dependent tumors, Kronos’ drug is also being tested in humans to address other transcriptionally addicted cancers like sarcomas.

“Sarcomas are not widely mutated like other tumors; it’s often just a simple transcription factor fusion,” Bischofberger says. “The best example is Ewing’s sarcoma. That exists with two transcription factors fused together. Those are driven by aberrant transcription, and that’s something we’re excited to be going after.”

The company plans to present safety data from its trials by the end of this year, and by the middle of 2024 to present data showing whether its lead candidate can shrink MYC-dependent tumors.

“What you want to see is tumor shrinkage because none of these tumors shrink by themselves,” Bischofberger says.

Regardless of those drug candidate’s success, Bischofberger believes Kronos is making important contributions to an understudied area of therapeutics.

“There are about 1,500 transcription factors, and about 200 of those are known to be involved in cancers, but very few have been drugged,” Bischofberger says. “The transcription factors that have been drugged have been widely successful — in multiple myeloma, for instance. This is a huge, open field to be working in.”

Source: Studying cancer in context to stop its growth

Who will benefit from AI?

- Posted in Uncategorized by

What if we’ve been thinking about artificial intelligence the wrong way?

After all, AI is often discussed as something that could replicate human intelligence and replace human work. But there is an alternate future: one in which AI provides “machine usefulness” for human workers, augmenting but not usurping jobs, while helping to create productivity gains and spread prosperity.

That would be a fairly rosy scenario. However, as MIT economist Daron Acemoglu emphasized in a public campus lecture on Tuesday night, society has started to move in a different direction — one in which AI replaces jobs and rachets up societal surveillance, and in the process reinforces economic inequality while concentrating political power further in the hands of the ultra-wealthy.

“There are transformative and very consequential choices ahead of us,” warned Acemoglu, Institute Professor at MIT, who has spent years studying the impact of automation on jobs and society.

Major innovations, Acemoglu suggested, are almost always bound up with matters of societal power and control, especially those involving automation. Technology generally helps society increase productivity; the question is how narrowly or widely those economic benefits are shared. When it comes to AI, he observed, these questions matter acutely “because there are so many different directions in which these technologies can be developed. It is quite possible they could bring broad-based benefits — or they might actually enrich and empower a very narrow elite.”

But when innovations augment rather than replace workers’ tasks, he noted, it creates conditions in which prosperity can spread to the work force itself.

“The objective is not to make machines intelligent in and of themselves, but more and more useful to humans,” said Acemoglu, speaking to a near-capacity audience of almost 300 people in Wong Auditorium.

The Productivity Bandwagon

The Starr Forum is a public event series held by MIT’s Center for International Studies (CIS), and focused on leading issues of global interest. Tuesday’s event was hosted by Evan Lieberman, director of CIS and the Total Professor of Political Science and Contemporary Africa.

Acemoglu’s talk drew on themes detailed in his book “Power and Progress: Our 1000-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity,” which was co-written with Simon Johnson and published in May by PublicAffairs. Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

In Tuesday’s talk, as in his book, Acemoglu discussed some famous historial examples to make the point that the widespread benefits of new technology cannot be assumed, but are conditional on how technology is implemented.

It took at least 100 years after the 18th-century onset of the Industrial Revolution, Acemoglu noted, for the productivity gains of industrialization to be widely shared. At first, real earnings did not rise, working hours increased by 20 percent, and labor conditions worsened as factory textile workers lost much of the autonomy they had held as independent weavers.

Similarly, Acemoglu observed, Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin made the conditions of slavery in the U.S. even worse. That overall dynamic, in which innovation can potentially enrich a few at the expense of the many, Acemoglu said, has not vanished.

“We’re not saying that this time is different,” Acemoglu said. “This time is very similar to what went on in the past. There has always been this tension about who controls technology and whether the gains from technology are going to be widely shared.”

To be sure, he noted, there are many, many ways society has ultimately benefitted from technologies. But it’s not something we can take for granted.

“Yes indeed, we are immeasurably more prosperous, healthier, and more comfortable today than people were 300 years ago,” Acemoglu said. “But again, there was nothing automatic about it, and the path to that improvement was circuitous.”

Ultimately what society must aim for, Acemoglu said, is what he and Johnson term “The Productivity Bandwagon” in their book. That is the condition in which technological innovation is adapted to help workers, not replace them, spreading economic growth more widely. In this way, productivity growth is accompanied by shared prosperity.

“The Productivity Bandwagon is not a force of nature that applies under all circumstances automatically, and with great force, but it is something that’s conditional on the nature of technology and how production is organized and the gains are shared,” Acemoglu said.

Crucially, he added, this “double process” of innovation involves one more thing: a significant amount of worker power, something which has eroded in recent decades in many places, including the U.S.

That erosion of worker power, he acknowledged, has made it less likely that multifaceted technologies will be used in ways that help the labor force. Still, Acemoglu noted, there is a healthy tradition within the ranks of technologists, including innovators such as Norbert Wiener and Douglas Engelbart, to “make machines more useable, or more useful to humans, and AI could pursue that path.”

Conversely, Acemoglu noted, “There is every danger that overemphasizing automation is not going to get you many productivity gains either,” since some technologies may be merely cheaper than human workers, not more productive.

Icarus and us

The event included a commentary from Fotini Christia, the Ford International Professor of the Social Sciences and director of the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center. Christia offered that “Power and Progress” was “a tremendous book about the forces of technology and how to channel them for the greater good.” She also noted “how prevalent these themes have been even going back to ancient times,” referring to Greek myths involving Daedalus, Icarus, and Prometheus.

Additionally, Christia raised a series of pressing questions about the themes of Acemoglu’s talk, including whether the advent of AI represented a more concerning set of problems than previous episodes of technological advancement, many of which ultimately helped many people; which people in society have the most ability and responsibility to help produce changes; and whether AI might have a different impact on developing countries in the Global South.

In an extensive audience question-and-answer session, Acemoglu fielded over a dozen questions, many of them about the distribution of earnings, global inequality, and how workers might organize themselves to have a say in the implementation of AI.

Broadly, Acemoglu suggested it is still to be determined how greater worker power can be obtained, and noted that workers themselves should help suggest productive uses for AI. At multiple points, he noted that workers cannot just protest circumstances, but must also pursue policy changes as well — if possible.

“There is some degree of optimism in saying we can actually redirect technology and that it’s a social choice,” Acemoglu acknowledged.

Acemoglu also suggested that countries in the global South were also vulnerable to the potential effects of AI, in a few ways. For one thing, he noted, as the work of MIT economist Martin Beraja shows, China has been exporting AI surveillance technologies to governments in many developing countries. For another, he noted, countries that have made overall economic progress by employing more of their citizens in low-wage industries might find labor force participation being undercut by AI developments.

Separately, Acemoglu warned, if private companies or central governments anywhere in the world amass more and more information about people, it is likely to have negative consequences for most of the population.

“As long as that information can be used without any constraints, it’s going to be antidemocratic and it’s going to be inequality-inducing,” he said. “There is every danger that AI, if it goes down the automation path, could be a highly unequalizing technology around the world.”

Source: Who will benefit from AI?

“Troy”: A Couple Obsessed with the Sex Worker Next Door

- Posted in Uncategorized by

Thea and Charlie’s neighbor has sex around the clock—that is, until they overhear his messy breakup, in a short film by Mike Donahue.

Source: “Troy”: A Couple Obsessed with the Sex Worker Next Door

A Changing Auto Industry, but Still ‘Good Stories in Detroit’

- Posted in Uncategorized by

As electric vehicles usher in a new era for the car economy and workers strike against rooted manufacturers, Neal E. Boudette is in Motor City to cover it all.

Source: A Changing Auto Industry, but Still ‘Good Stories in Detroit’

15 Halloween Team Building Activities for the Workplace

- Posted in Uncategorized by
15 Halloween Team Building Activities for the Workplace featured image

With the spookiest day of the year right around the corner, now’s the time to start looking for Halloween team building activities for the workplace. We’ve compiled a list of virtual and in-person Halloween team building games your colleagues will love. 

Updated on September 29, 2021

With October quickly approaching, Halloween team building activities for the workplace are another great chance to unwind, celebrate the season, and have some the fun with your team. 

Whether your team is working remotely or in the office, here are 15 fun and engaging ideas for how to celebrate the spookiest day of the year together. 

8 Virtual Halloween Team Building Games for Remote Teams 

For many teams, getting together in person simply isn’t a possibility. But that doesn’t have to stop you from having some Halloween fun together.  

Here are eight virtual Halloween team building activities that your team will love. 

1. Virtual Jeoparty Social: Scary Edition

If your remote team is eager to socialize, have some fun as a group, and channel their competitive spirit while celebrating the spookiest season of the year, we’ve got just the thing for you!

With Virtual Jeoparty Social: Scary Edition, your team will get to step into their very own virtual Jeopardy-style game show—equipped with a buzzer button, a professional actor as your host, and an immersive Halloween-themed game show platform! Best of all, this game has been infused with an ultra-social (and spooky) twist.

In this activity, your group will break out into teams and compete through multiple rounds of virtual Halloween-themed trivia questions inspired by Jeopardy, winning (or losing!) points for each. And, for some added all-inclusive interaction, players will take part in a unique social mixer challenge between each round.

So, get ready to test your trivia knowledge, hit that buzzer button as fast as you can, help your team win as many points as possible before time runs out, and share some laughs (and scares) between rounds —and then wager a little or a lot in a round of Final Jeoparty to top it all off.

2. Virtual Halloween Howler

a team of colleagues playing a halloween howler team building activity

Get ready to visit some of the scariest places imaginable, including a creepy castle, a graveyard at midnight, a haunted house, and… a gameshow set. With Virtual Halloween Howler, you and your colleagues will need to put on your bravest faces as you compete through four rounds of terrifying trivia challenges.

3. Video Pumpkin Carving 

virtual pumpkin carving for halloween team building

Don’t let physical distance keep you and your team from getting into the Halloween spirit with a classic activity: carving pumpkins. Consider supplying your employees with a few dollars each to go out and buy a pumpkin. Then, you can all hop on a video conferencing platform to chat, socialize, play virtual Zoom games, and carve pumpkins together.  

If you want to make things even more interesting, you can transform this into a contest where employees vote on their favorite pumpkins. You can even give out a spooky prize for the winner.  

4. Virtual Clue Murder Mystery 

a virtual clue murder mystery activity for your office halloween party

Nothing screams “Halloween” like a murder mystery. And in the virtual version of our Clue Murder Mystery activity, your team will need to solve the murder of a man named Neil Davidson by figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime. If you really want to get in the Halloween spirit, you and your team can even get Halloween costumes and dress up as detectives! 

5. Virtual Halloween Happy Hour 

You can’t go wrong with a virtual happy hour. And for Halloween, we recommend tasking your team with creating the best costume they can possibly think of and turning this happy hour into a costume contest. 

And if you or your team are looking for some delicious inspiration, check out this comprehensive list of Halloween-inspired cocktails from Delish. Some of the highlights include: 

  • Boozy Screamsicle Shakes – Ice cream? Good. Vanilla vodka? Good. Boozy, spooky, creamsicle-inspired cocktails? Very, very good.  

  • Jekyll & Gin – This twist on a Gin Daisy looks coral-colored in the daylight and glows white under a black light.  

  • Black Magic Margaritas – Give that classic margarita an eerie upgrade with some black sanding sugar and some dark-colored food coloring.  

Just remember, if you’re having drinks, do so responsibly and always ensure everyone has a safe way to get home. 

6. Virtual Scream Pursuit

Virtual Scream Pursuit Halloween Team Building Header Image

We hope your team isn’t afraid of a challenge! With this eerie Halloween-themed team building activity, they’ll test their nerves and their wits as they work through a series of mental, physical, skill, and mystery challenges, earning points for each completed correctly—all while having some fun, sharing some laughs, and celebrating the spookiest season of the year.

7. Halloween Virtual Trivia Games

Hop on Zoom for some Halloween virtual trivia games with your team. If you’re looking for the best way to do this, this article from Medium offers in-depth, step-by-step instructions, which include: 

  • Pick a moderator because it’s easier to have one person coordinating all the details  
  • Choose your tools, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams 
  • Select your questions, including: 
  • Which country did Jack-o-Lanterns originally belong to? 
  • How many pounds of candy corn are produced annually? 
  • Who was the first actor to play Wolfman?  
  • For more, you might want to check out this list of 100+ Halloween trivia questions  
  • Break the group into teams 
  • Have each team create their own private video conference 
  • Set the ground rules, such as not using Google, only one answer per team, and the amount of time that teams will have to discuss before submitting their response 
  • Tally the scores and announce the winner 

The amount of time you’ll want to dedicate to this will depend on how many questions you have. We’d recommend allocating a minimum of one hour for 25 to 30 questions.  

8. Virtual Escape Room: Mummy’s Curse

image 1

Your remote team has been transported into a pyramid cursed by a restless mummy. Now you must uncover the secrets of Ancient Egypt in order to lift the mummy’s curse and return before the portal closes forever.

Your team’s problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills will be put to the test, as they race against the clock (and their peers) to solve the mummy’s complex clues and puzzles.

Does your team have what it takes to lift this ancient curse, once and for all?

8 In-Person Halloween Team Building Activities for the Workplace 

If your team works in the office together, or if you’re able to get together in-person, then you’ve got a ton of great Halloween team building activity ideas available to you. 

Here are eight Halloween team building activities.  

1. Hollywood Murder Mystery


The case is fresh, but here’s what we know so far: we’ve got an up-and-coming actress who’s been found dead in her hotel room following last night’s awards show.

We have several suspects, but we haven’t been able to put the crime on any of them for sure yet. Now, it’s up to you and your team of detectives to crack the case. Together, you’ll review case files and evidence including police reports, coroners’ reports, photo evidence, tabloids, interrogations, and phone calls as you determine the motive, method, and murderer and bring justice for the victim.

You’ll need to put your problem-solving skills to the test as you share theories, collaborate, and think outside the box with your fellow investigators.

visiting a haunted house for a halloween team building activity

2. Haunted House Visits 

If you and your team are feeling brave, there aren’t many activities more fun than visiting a spooky haunted house! Your group can share a few screams, a lot of laughs, and a great time by testing your nerves together. If you’re looking for the spookiest haunted houses out there, check out this list from Thrillist of the best ones in all 50 states. 

3. CI: The Crime Investigators 

crime scene investigation team building halloween activity

With this team building activity, you and your group will need to put your detective hats on to solve a deadly crime by gathering evidence, analyzing clues, and cracking the case before time runs out. But it won’t be easy! You’ll need to think creatively and work collaboratively in order to identify the perpetrator. 

4. Decorate Your Office and Desks

As individual departments or as a full team, get together to decorate your office in classic Halloween fashion. We’d recommend setting a budget per department and sending your team out in small groups to go buy decorations.  

If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these awesome ideas from Homedit

You can also encourage individual employees to decorate their desks and do a tour of the office to check out how everyone did it.  

5. Clue Murder Mystery

colleagues doing a clue murder mystery halloween team building activity

You’ve probably never heard of Neil Davidson, but in this mysterious team building activity, you and your team will need to work together to analyze clues, review case files, and determine who had the means and the motive to commit a deadly crime.  

6. The Mummy Wrap 

Want to have a laugh with your team? Play this game you probably haven’t thought about since elementary school!  

Break out into teams and elect one person from each team to be transformed into a mummy – by being wrapped from head to toe in toilet paper. The first team that can successfully wrap the mummy wins.  

You can also add an extra element of challenge by having your team customize their mummy costumes in a way that fits your brand or company theme.  

7. Halloween Potluck 

baking halloween cookies for a team building event

You can’t go wrong with a good potluck. We recommend that you set a modest budget for each member of your team to purchase groceries and let them get creative with their recipes.  

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this massive list of 72 Halloween potluck recipe ideas from Taste of Home. It includes things like:  

  • So-Easy-It’s-Spooky Bat Cake – Made with a boxed cake mix, this can easily be transformed into a Halloween-themed cake by creating a bat silhouette using cocoa.  

  • Witches’ Fingers – These sweet-and-salty treats are delicious and easy to make. 

  • Roasted Pumpkin Nachos – Using delicious fresh fall ingredients, you can make nachos and replace corn with roasted pumpkin or butternut squash for a tasty Halloween treat.  

  • Mad Scientist Punch – Using kitchen staples like juice concentrate, soft drink mix, soda, and sherbet, you can make this delicious beverage in a boozy or non-boozy version.  

  • Halloween Party Cutout Cookies – What’s better than sugar cookies? Using an easy recipe and a few colors of icing, you can bake fun and tasty Halloween cookies your colleagues will love.  

As October 31st approaches, it’s a great opportunity to start thinking about fun and engaging Halloween team building activities for the workplace. Your colleagues will thank you for it!

Do you have any other Halloween team building ideas that we might’ve missed? If so, let us know what they are in the comments section below!  

Learn More About Virtual and In-Person Halloween Team Building Activities for the Workplace     

For more information about how your team can celebrate Halloween with a fun team building activity, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.   

15 Halloween Team Building Activities for the Workplace

Source: 15 Halloween Team Building Activities for the Workplace

Page 2 of 23