When does being different become ordinary?
My first experience with creative problem solving competitions involved a group of rather ambitious second graders. Rather than opting for the easier non-competitive primary challenge they insisted on a difficult one. They spent hours trying to build structures out of fragile materials such as thin balsa wood sticks and pasta that actually withstood some weight. Then, they had to come up with a performance to tie everything together. We largely ignored practicing for the spontaneous problem solving challenge.
They built a sturdy structure that received a higher score than students in grades above them. But, they scored last in the spontaneous problem solving challenge. Afterwards we brainstormed on what went wrong. They had been give a question, “What would you take on a trip to the moon?” Only one answer had been given more than the minimum point, and as they recalled only one answer had been completely “out there.” One girl…
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