Problem solving is a necessary skill that helps students excel, not only in school but in their future careers as well. Utilizing problem solving exercises in your classroom is a fun and effective way to help your students learn how to analyze and tackle problems. Here are three that you can try:
This one encourages your students to work as a team and be creative. First, the class will cut a slot in the top of a small-medium sized box. Have them flex their creative muscles and decorate the box before writing, “Problem-Solving Box,” on the side. Each student will anonymously write down a problem—whether from experience or from their imagination—and place it into the box. A couple of times a week, have one of them draw from the box and read a problem to the class. Then, encouraging your students to work together, figure out any possible solutions.
Students will find this one especially fun. Create a pretend scenario where the class has just crash landed on an uninhabited island and it will take rescue teams three days to find them. They have limited resources and must figure out a way to find food, build a shelter, and survive. Encourage the class to work as a team and solve any problems that come up, and make sure each student has a chance to have their ideas heard. Learn more about collaboration in your classroom here.
This may be a popular option, but it never grows old. Bring a carton of eggs to class and ask your students to each take one. Provide them basic materials (tape, rubber bands, bubble wrap, cardboard, scissors, etc.) and have them form teams of three or four. Using only the materials given, allow them to brainstorm and create a carrier for the egg that protects it from breaking. Let the competition begin! Start by having each team drop their egg from a low ledge, then increase the height until only one egg remains intact.
For more tips on making your STEM classroom a success, check out these resources: