Category Archives: Creative Problem Solving

Creative Thinking Prompt: Colorforms® – A Timeless Toy

Creative Thinking Prompt: Colorforms® – A Timeless Toy

Since the 1950s, Colorforms® has been inspiring the imaginations of children. Back in 1951, two art students, Harry and Patricia Kislevitz, experimented with a new medium, a flexible vinyl material to use instead of paint. They bought rolls of colorful vinyl, cut out geometric shapes and stuck them to the walls of their bathroom. When guests came over to visit, they added to the Harry and Patricia’s bathroom art creation.

To learn more about Colorforms®, visit:

http://www.colorforms.com/history/

http://www.colorforms.com/videos/

The Invention Process

Step 1: Choose a problem

Step 2: Brainstorm solutions

Step 3: Background research

Step 4: Design and build

Step 5: Test and revise

Creative Thinking Prompt: Using the invention process, invent a new imagination game. After you design and build, have others play your game. What did they like about it? What did they think could be improved? Go back to the drawing board and revise your game again and again, trying out new ideas. What steps and risks did you take to invent something new? Good for you! Pat yourself on the back for persisting and trying something new!

Creative Thinking Prompt: Invention Inspired by Nature

Creative Thinking Prompt: Invention Inspired by Nature

What do owls and humpback whales have in common?

Wind turbine blades!

Researchers Ian Clark, William N. Alexander, William J. Devenport, Stewart A. Glegg, Justin Jaworski, Conor Daly, and Nigel Peake looked at an owl’s silent predatory flight for inspiration to reduce the amount of noise that wind blades emitted. They noticed tiny hairs that look like fringe stuck up on wing feathers, which smoothed the air flow into a neat stream. After creating a 3D printed plastic coating that mimics the owl’s feather structure and applying it to the blade, turbine noise was reduced by fifty percent.

Biologist Frank Fish noticed bumps running along the fins on a humpback whale. Fish studied and discovered that these bumps create small vortices that help the fin cut through water. By developing a bumpy edge to a turbine blade, noise is reduced and efficiency increased. This is now known as the turbercle effect.

Edge of a prototype wind turbine blade – Whalepower Corporation

Creative Thinking Prompt: How might an owl or whale influence you to redesign or create a new common household item like a spoon, lawn mower, or bike?

EXTENDED CONNECTIONS:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/turbine-blades-inspired-owls

https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/10-technologies-inspired-nature

Creative Thinking Prompt: Infinite Space Defined

 ©Chul Hyun Ahn

Creative Thinking Prompt: Infinite Space Defined

How do you define space? How might you show (represent) space?

South Korean artist Chul Hyun Ahn enjoys exploring how to define infinite space through his art. He creates portal-looking sculptures using light, mirrors, color and illusion.

    

Images©Chul Hyun Ahn

EXTENDING CONNECTIONS:

https://www.artsy.net/artist/chul-hyun-ahn/works

https://creators.vice.com/en_us/article/ypn95b/illuminating-infinite-spaces-meet-chul-hyun-ahn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIqBdvrJ4VE

 Think Deeper: Ponder this – If something is infinite, does it have a center point?

Imogene’s Antlers

“Imogene’s Antlers

An oldie but a goodie, Imogene’s Antlers still delivers a creative, entertaining story after being published 32 years old ago.

Opening line: “On Thursday, when Imogene woke up she found she had grown antlers.”

While family and friends help to rid Imogene of her antlers, Imogene takes a different approach and uses her antlers for other purposes.

Watch for the clever story ending.

This book promotes imagination, wonder and creative problem solving.

TITLE: Imogene’s Antlers

AUTHOR: David Small

ILLUSTRATOR: David Small

PUBLISHER: Crown Publishers, 1985

AGE GROUP: 5-7

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: imagination, wonder, creative problem solving

LEARNING EXTENSIONS:

1) When you have finished reading the book, continue Imogene’s story by writing about what happens next.

2) In addition to Imogene’s creative solutions, what else could she use her antlers for? Try to think up at least five more uses.

3) If you were to discover that you woke up with an animal body part, what body part would it be, how would you react, and what could you use that additional part for?

EXTENDING CONNECTIONS:

To learn more about author/illustrator David Small, visit:

http://www.davidsmallbooks.com

Beard In A Box

Beard In A Box”

In Beard In A Box written and illustrated by Bill Cotter, a young boy wants to be just like his dad. He determines that Dad gets his awesomeness from his beard.

He needs a beard, too.

He follows the 5 step program: picks a style, plants seeds, waters, does face exercises and then… Step 5: Wait 10-15 years. UGH!!

Then things get worse when his dad shaves off his beard. Double UGH!!

In the end, Dad shows his son how to be awesome.

This book promotes imagination, humor and creativity.

TITLE: Beard In A Box

AUTHOR: Bill Cotter

ILLUSTRATOR: Bill Cotter

PUBLISHER: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016

AGE GROUP: 5-7

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: creativity, humor, imagination

LEARNING EXTENSIONS:

1)   Design a new beard style.

2) Brainstorm a list of words that you associate with awesomeness. From your list, pick one word to describe your dad and one word to describe you. Combine these two words to invent a new word. Use this new word to write an acrostic poem about your relationship with your dad. (You can also use this exercise with others that you love even your pet.)

EXTENDING CONNECTIONS:

To learn more about author/illustrator Bill Cotter, visit:

http://cotterillustration.squarespace.com

Creative Thinking Prompt: Sand Castles

Creative Thinking Prompt: Sand Castles

Whether you go to the beach or play in the sand at your local park, get ready to be inspired by these sand castles.

      

http://www.mostbeautifulthings.net/best-sand-castles/

 Image: thecreatorsproject.vice.com

 Image: www.babble.com

http://list25.com/25-of-the-most-amazing-sand-castles-ever-built/5/

Creative Thinking Prompt: Design a sand castle that serves a purpose. Who would live in your sand castle? How is your castle protected? What rooms does your castle need? Where would your castle be built? Why is your castle being built? How will your castle stay intact? Give your castle a name. Sketch your castle. Then build it!

Creative Thinking Prompt: Building with Ice Cubes

Ice is slippery. Ice is wet. Ice melts. Then how can you build with ice?

Creative Thinking Prompt: Build a structure using ice cubes, using the creative thinking strategy SCAMPER. SCAMPER was developed by Bob Eberle based upon Alex Osborn’s creating thinking questions. Alex Osborn is the originator of brainstorming.

SCAMPER

Scamper is based upon seven creative thinking principles. Each principle views your idea in a different manner. By asking questions related to each principle, Scamper gets you thinking about which areas of your idea you can improve.

S = Substitute:  Remove some part and replace it with something else.

What else can I use instead of clear water to create ice cubes?

C = Combination:  Join or force together two or more elements of your subject to develop a solution.

What things can I combine together to make a better ice cube?

What can I use to stick the cubes together?

A = Adapt:  Change some part so that it works where before it didn’t work.

What might I do to change the structure of the ice cubes to make them not melt quickly?

M = Magnify or modify:  Consider the attributes of the subject and change them. Attributes include: size, shape, other dimensions, texture, color, position, etc.

How will smaller or larger ice cubes work within my structure?

P = Put to other uses:  Think about your subject – why it exists, what it is used for, what it’s supposed to do. Then think up new and unusual purposes.           

How else can I use an ice cube?

E = Eliminate:  Remove any or all elements of the subject.

What can I remove from my structure to make it stronger and last longer?

R = Rearrange or reverse:  Look at the subject from different perspectives. Turn it upside-down, inside-out. Make it go backwards, against the direction it was intended to go or be used. Similar to Reverse, modify the order of operations or any other hierarchy involved.

What would happen if I rearrange the ice cubes in my structure?

As I used SCAMPER more questions popped into my mind.

  • How would using pop, sugar water, jello, or millk affect the structure of an ice cube?
  • Would the different ingredients make the cube stick together easier? Would it melt less?
  • What if I let the cubes melt a little and then refreeze them – would my structure “stick” together?
  • How would small and large cubes help with building my structure?
  • Is there a better way to build an ice structure?
  • What if I froze a smaller cube inside a larger cube?
  • How can I make my structure colorful?

To make glow-in-the-dark cubes, visit: http://www.learnplayimagine.com/2012/02/glow-in-dark-water-beads.html

Think Deeper: Build an ice cube arch.

The Most Magnificent Thing

“The Most Magnificent Thing

One day a girl has a wonderful idea to make the most magnificent thing. She knows how it will look and how it will work. After she makes it, it doesn’t look or work how she imagined.

She tries again and again but it still won’t work. It isn’t magnificent.

Frustrated and angry, she quits. Her trusty helper tells her to go for a walk.

When they return, she sees all the things she created. Each one better than before. That gives her an idea…

This book promotes discovery, the creative process, and risk-taking.

TITLE: The Most Magnificent Thing

AUTHOR: Ashley Spires

ILLUSTRATOR: Ashley Spires

PUBLISHER: Kids Can Press, 2014

AGE GROUP: 6-8

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: discovery, the creative process, risk-taking

LEARNING EXTENSIONS:

1) Pick an invention that interests you. What might you change to make it better? What might you add or subtract from it? Can you substitute a different part? What else can the invention be used for?

2) What do you do when you are frustrated? Do you quit, give up? Do you push forward and try again? Do you try a new approach? Tell about a time that you wanted to quit but you didn’t.

 EXTENDING CONNECTIONS:

To learn more about author/illustrator Ashley Spires, visit:

https://www.ashleyspires.com/index.html

Creative Thinking Prompt: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Creative Thinking Prompt: Use 5W1H to Make Your Goals for the New Year

What will the new year bring for you? Use 5W1H to help make a plan to achieve your 2017 goals. 5W1H, a creative thinking technique, uses questions to help define a problem and prompt creative thinking solutions. The 5Ws are who, what, where, when, and why. The 1H is how. For example, let’s say one of your goals is to become a better person.

Who are some people admire?

Why do you admire them?

What qualities do you admire about them?

Where can you express those qualities?

When can you express those qualities?

How can you express those qualities?

Now make a list of goals that you would like to achieve next year. Pick one of those goals to use 5W1H to help you clarify and achieve your goal.

Creative Thinking Prompt: Engineering Gingerbread Houses

gingerbread-house-1098731_1280

For some people, making gingerbread houses is a tradition. For others, it’s a fun party activity. Whatever your reason for constructing a gingerbread house this year, the house needs a solid foundation. Before you start building, think about these things as you begin to design.

Structure

Adhesive

Construction Materials

Assembly

Visual Appeal

Design

At Brown University, the students of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) host an annual gingerbread building contest to see whose aesthetically appealing house can withstand an earthquake shake. Competitors are given graham crackers, icing, marshmallows, gumdrops, cereal, gummy sharks and more sweets. They have one hour to build a 6 x 6 x 6 hollow house.

Creative Thinking Prompt: Experiment with Building a Gingerbread Structure

After you’ve sketched a house design, try experimenting with different types of building materials. For the outside walls – graham crackers, wafers, rice crackers, multi-grain crackers, thin cookies. For the “adhesive” – marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, different types of frosting, royal icing, melted gummy bears. Which materials worked best?

Once you’ve constructed your building and added decorations, try shaking it to see if it would withstand a quake. Which structure/design worked best?

To learn more about SWE’s contest, view:

http://www.browndailyherald.com/2016/12/04/students-compete-extreme-gingerbread-house/

To inspire you, view some beautiful gingerbread buildings at:

http://art-now-and-then.blogspot.com/2015/11/gingerbread-architecture.html