Hands-on Activities for Innovative Problem Solving

Hands-on Activities for Innovative Problem SolvingHands-on Activities for Innovative Problem Solving

Daniel Raviv
Department of Electrical Engineering Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL 33431 E-mail: ravivd@fau.edu
Tel: (561) 297 2773

This paper describes team-based, interpersonal, and individual hands-on activities that enhance out-of-the-box creative thinking. The activities are designed to be inquiry-based, and to allow for self-exploration of problems and solutions. Some of them encourage work in a self-paced mode, and other promote group competitions, thinking and discussions. Students are encouraged to find multiple, imaginative, intuitive and common sense solutions and not “one right answer” to a problem.

The activities are part of an undergraduate course at Florida Atlantic University titled: “Introduction to Inventive Problem Solving in Engineering”. The goal of this “elective” is to enhance innovative and inventive thinking abilities of undergraduate students resulting in skills that can be used in science, math, engineering and technology. The different activities are introduced in specific contexts to enhance learning and understanding of the material. The activities help students to:

-discover and explore problems and solutions
-learn new concepts in thinking
-become more creative/inventive
-become more open-minded and learn how to avoid mental blocks -appreciate diversity and discover self

-use intuition and common sense in problem solving
-experience design basics and exercise the “more than one solution” approach
-deal with peer pressure
-enjoy learning.
In addition, the activities help to:
-boost teaming skills
-increase interaction and cooperation
-improve communication between students
Some of the activities are well known, but others are new. They help a great deal to achieve the goals of the course. Observations of students “in action” clearly indicate positive attitudes, persistence, openness and willingness to take risks in an enjoyable learning environment.

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