New and Different Thinking
To understand creative problem solving
Lost Ball Problem (follows)
- Project transparency or distribute handout of problem and ask students to work individually, noting possible solutions. If students ask for additional information, tell them that the pipe is about 5 feet high, 3 inches in diameter, and the ball is 2 ½ inches in diameter.
- After two or three minutes, ask students to discuss the problem with a neighbor. If students seem frustrated, you may use the hints below:
- Hint One: Instead of trying to think of ways to reach the ball or ways to fish it out, how could you get the ball to come to you?
- Hint two: When washing dishes by hand, how do you clean the bottom of glasses that are too tall and narrow to reach with a sponge?
- Hint Three: How do pump sprays work? How do you get liquid detergent out of a bottle equipped with a pump spray?
- Ask students for their ideas, and give the solution. The problem is easily solved by pouring water into the pipe. (Students may suggest the use of sticks - difficult, or bubble gum - the ball may be too heavy, or a vacuum cleaner - not available in a park.
Problem is posed which necessitates breaking out of traditional thinking patterns in order to reach a solution.
Points For Discussion:
Habit thinking suggests: "How do I get the ball out?" Creative thinking suggests a reversal: "How do I get the ball to come out by itself?" Looking at thinking from different angles or reversing situations is often helpful. Sometimes we become so fixed in our thinking that we do not see solutions.
From:"Classroom Activities in Thinking Skills" compiled by Janice Kruse, Research for Better Schools, 444 North Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123. 1988. pp 77-78
This activity as submitted by Marilyn McCormack, IU #13, East Petersburg, PA
Lost Ball Problem:
At a picnic in the park, some children accidentally dropped a wooden ball down a pipe. The pipe is a hollow cylinder that is cemented to the ground. What would you suggest these kids do to get their ball out of the pipe?
Webdate: April 23, 2002
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