Activity: Creative Problem Solving



  1. Have students read the "Fishing Rodeo" scenario.

  2. In order to fully comprehend the problems involved in the scenario, students will need to investigate the situation further. Gather information about development companies, tourism in coastal areas, and revenues brought in by the purchase of fishing licenses. Guest speakers and field trips would also be valuable. Students might interview residents of communities bordering on lakes or other water bodies and gather information about lifestyles and concerns.

  3. Have the class brainstorm problems related to the scenario, such as, land use and development, fishing rights, recreation, and the estuarine ecosystem. Accept all suggestions without criticism.

  4. After the brainstorming session, select one problem. In stating the problem:

    • Use guidelines in writing the problem:

      How might we....

      In what ways might we.....

    • Use a descriptive main verb in the active voice.

    • Include qualifying statements, such as why, who, or under what conditions.

    • Use a positive approach with a minimum of words.

    An example in the scenario above might be:
    "How might development companies build without harming the estuarine environment?"
    or "In what ways might Hannah and her friends investigate the effects of development on animals and plants in the Lake?"

  5. Brainstorm the possible solutions to the stated problem. Welcome all ideas during this session. Attempt to fill in information by supplying the answer to questions such as, Who, what, when, where, why and how? Using these questions develop positive proposals for the solution presented.

  6. Once these proposals have been formulated, it is important to reexamine the problems as well as the solutions. This may be done with the use of criteria. Brainstorm criteria for solutions to the problem. Some examples of criteria questions are listed below:

    • Which solution will impact the environment least?

    • Which solution is most cost effective?

    • Which solution will be best for the community?

    • Which solution will provide jobs?

    • Which solution will be easily accepted by the community?

    • Which solution will take the longest time to implement?

    • Which solution is most equitable?

    • Which solution is most ethical?

    • Which solution will enhance the environment?

    • Which solution will have an impact on the fewest people?

    • Which solution might have an impact on the future?

    • Which solution will be most visibly successful?

    • Which solution will change attitudes in the community?

    • Which solution has the potential to do the most harm?

  7. Discuss the list of criteria and choose five which will be used to consider the solutions to the problem.

  8. Discuss and select five solutions that have the potential to solve the problem. Use the ranking system suggested in the worksheet to rank each solution. Total up the points given to each solution. The solution with the highest total points appears to be the best solution to the problem based on the criteria developed.

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