The Red Papercllp Challenge is an exercise inspired by a series of trading experiments by Kyle MacDonald, who documented his material progression from a large red paperclip to a house on his website.   The RPC was developed by a group of 8th grade Humanities students at Billings Middle School.  

Over the course of two weeks, teams will endeavor, through a series of trades, to increase the value of their held object(s) or services, following the rules and guidelines developed by the teams themselves. Each trade must be documented through journal entry, photo, video or audio recording posted regularly on the teams blog.  At the end of the Challenge, the team who has acquired the service with the highest value (see below) will be the winner. The winning team shall determine the distribution of all funds earned by liquidating all the final items from all the teams. 

Rules and Guidelines - revised November 2013
Team members will be acting as agents of Billings Middle School and, as such, should adhere to the school's  rules and expectations around decorum, respect, and behavior. The goal of the challenge is explore the effectiveness of various bartering, sales and negotiation strategies (and the way these are documented) - these will be the criteria of evaluation for each team member, regardless of the final value of the items traded.  No cheating.

Making Trades
    1) Trades may happen in or out of school, but they cannot disrupt classes or other students effort to
    3) Immediate family members of the team are off limits for trading.
    4) You may not purchase or add services to any item to increase it's value. You may clean, polish, 
        decorate, fix or paint an object - if you already own the materials to do so.
    5) You may not lie to increase the perceived value of an item.
    6) You may not trade for any item that is illegal or whose access is restricted to people 7th grade or older.
    7) Trades must be voluntary by both parties.
    9)  Paying for mailing is allowed
    10) Your team may not sabotage another team's trade.
    11) You may explain why you are trading -- that it is part of a school challenge. 

    *** you may split an item, or trade a part of an item - if you receive a "pair of hats" you may trade each
         item separately, if you believe this will result in a stronger end result. 

Documenting Process
Go to The Red Paperclip Google Community

Each person/team is expected to document the three stages of each trade - 1) Planning strategy, 2) The trade itself (how negotiation went), 3) post-trade debrief (how it went, what could be done better). 

You may use written, photographic, art, music  or video to document the trade - as long as it can be easily posted and viewed. REQUIRED: Please make sure there is an adequate description/picture of each item acquired -- starting with the first one!!

  • You must ask people for permission to take their picture or video.
  • We do not post people's last names or personal information online (even on the RPC website).
  • Documentation is the key element of your final eval for this project -- spend TIME on this.
  • Documentation should include appropriate language for a school project. 
  • Remember to document trades that don't end up working as well as successful ones. 

Keeping Score points will be allotted to each team for:

  1.     Each Trade based on added value, 
  2.     Each blog posting - bonus for inventive strategy, documentation, 
  3.     Other creative actions 

Assessing Value

 We will search for comparative value in the marketplace - retail, ebay, amazon, etc... Craig's list for services. The supervisor will make a value assessment with the team, if any easy comp cannot be located

End of Challenge

The Challenge will end on Friday, December 19, 2013 at the beginning of class. Items or "services" will be turned in for review at that time. The team that wins will determine the distribution of funds among the proposed organizations.

Distribution of Funds

The winning team will help decide the distribution of funds/goods/services. They will be distributed among a) the school's scholarship fund, b) the benefit of the class and c) the Change for Change project.