Cup Stacking

A traditional MLH Mini Event

What is Cup Stacking?

Cup Stacking is a hackathon pastime that lets hackers engage in a fun activity with their friends and fellow hackers. In teams of two, the participants attempt to create the tallest tower of cups stacked on top of each other.


MLH currently does not run this mini-event because we cannot ship the cups. You will need 200-400 (100 per team, you can run 2-4 teams at once depending on your event space)

  1. Tell hackers to bring their laptops/phones to use for registration.

  2. Be ready to tweet about cup stacking! Make sure you tag @mlhacks and use the event hashtag.

  3. Make sure the space where you’re running the event is large enough to accommodate the cup stacking towers and attendees.

  4. Have a device that can be used as a timer (a smartphone works great). You'll also need a way to record team names and the height of their towers. We recommend a simple spreadsheet!

  5. (Optional) A megaphone or microphone is very useful for calling teams when it’s their turn if you have a large number of attendees.

Cup Stacking Procedures

  1. Have everyone sign up.

  2. All participants should compete in pairs. If that results in too many teams for your time frame, have participants compete in groups of 4, then break them back into pairs for the final round.

  3. Cup stacking is run in rounds. Grab 3–4 teams for each round, giving each team 100 cups. Each round lasts for 3 minutes as pairs attempt to stack the cups as high as possible, using whichever method they wish. Make sure each team has enough space that they won’t interfere with other cup towers.

  4. Some general rules:

    • No chairs/tables/other furniture to stand on. You can use your partner’s back for more height if they let you!

    • Once time is called, participants need to put their hands straight up in the air! No cheating!

    • Cup tower must stand during the whole counting period!

  5. Run each round, counting the height of each standing tower at the end. It should simply be a round number — for example, “Team Hackerzz: 19 Cups”. Continue running rounds until all of the teams have had a chance to stack.

  6. Remember to tweet about the event as it goes on! Tag @MLHacks and use the event’s hashtag

  7. Optional: You can do a final round with the top 4 teams from previous rounds, or run the event bracket-style.

  8. After everyone’s had a chance to stack, check who had the highest cup tower among all the teams, and announce the winner! Give honorable mentions to the runner-up teams.

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