“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”
– Albert Einstein
This quote is attributed to famous scientist Albert Einstein is one of my favorite quotes ever. I believe it’s one of my favorites because it’s so true and rings so loud during our current situation. I think we would all agree with that.
I’ve seen this contagious creativity more right now than I’ve ever seen before, and it’s both inspiring and motivating as a human being. During this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting EVERYONE in some form or fashion, people are finding new and creative ways to solve problems and do some amazing things to help others. Hear from teachers on how they are switching gears and learning to problem-solve each day.
And, honestly, creativity and innovation can be defined as problem-solving at their most basic level, and problem-solving is a HUGE component of STEM learning. The good news is that’s what Pitsco is all about: helping students learn how to problem-solve while creating and innovating along the way. We understand problem-solving is an extremely valuable and career-ready skill.
Creativity and innovation, to me, can be summed up in three parts.
- Find a problem.
- Explore and research the problem.
- Solve the problem.
Find and Identify a Problem
Perhaps one of the most certain things we can know and understand in life is that there will be problems that come up.
The good news about finding a problem is that there’s also a solution.
When you discover a problem, you are one step closer to solving it. Humans by nature are solution oriented, and when we feel we’ve identified a potential problem, we’ll begin to explore, research, and take a deeper dive into the problem.
In the past month, problems have been identified that weren’t necessarily problems before. Ventilators and masks were in abundance, but the pandemic caused a shortage of those ventilators and masks. And maybe the pandemic caused your season to end abruptly like this FIRST® team’s season, and the only way to fix it is by rising together.
Can you identify any problems that need a potential solution? This is a great question to ask your students during this time and see what they say. There might be an awesome new idea and solution out there just waiting to grow into something great. 😊
Explore and Research the Problem
When you’ve found and identified a potential problem, the next step is to take a deep dive, beginning to ask questions and explore it further.
A few essential questions to ask are:
- How many people does this problem affect?
- Is this problem really a problem?
- How is this problem affecting people?
- Will this problem solve itself?
- How quickly does this problem need a solution?
Asking questions and exploring is key to learning and can help determine the impact and scope of the problem. Sometimes the questions are hard but vital to finding a potential solution.
We need your feedback! What questions can you ask while exploring and researching a potential problem?
Solve the Problem
OK, so by this point, you’ve identified a problem. You’ve explored and researched the breadth and impact of the problem. So, the next step is solving the problem. This is by far the most fun step in the process to me. This is where your UNIQUE and AWESOME qualities can shine!
- What materials do you need to use to solve the problem?
- What materials would solve the problem the best?
- What solution would help the most people?
- How can you produce the solution?
The beauty of problem-solving, creativity, and innovation is that there’s typically no cookie-cutter solution. It’s encouraging to know that there’s not just one right answer!
And it’s been encouraging to me! During this time, I’ve seen others create ventilators out of our TETRIX® robotics system and other materials. It shows me that what we have here at Pitsco can solve real-world problems and help in current scenarios and events. Read more about the design Kenny Bae, Chicago educator and FIRST Tech Challenge coach at Wolcott College Prep, and his team did to create a ventilator prototype. Or, how Grant Kahl, freshman at Colorado School of Mines, and Eric Love, high school senior at the International School of the Americas in San Antonio, undertook an ultimate project-based learning experience to create a low-cost Ambu bag ventilator system.
I’ve seen people, including robotics teams and student organizations, working feverishly to 3-D print headbands and face shields for our amazing frontline health-care workers and heroes.
Even members of the Pitsco family have been a part of the efforts! My colleague Alan Kirby has worked hard for the past few weeks to do his part during this time. And Paul Uttley and Bill Holden have been helping meet some local needs too. In one day, they helped print 283 headbands to contribute to the community. KUDOS!
In a time where solutions are needed, we can all agree that creativity is contagious and creativity breeds creativity. When I see others innovating and creating during this time, it makes me want to do more to help more.
So, I will leave a couple questions for you. How can you do your part? What can we do?
Please share your feedback and comments! We’d love to see what you are doing during this time to encourage STEM and problem-solving with your students, and we’d love to know what you are doing personally as well.
Stay safe, be well, and continue to do what you are doing. YOU are doing a great job!