Friday, February 22, 2013

Think. Communicate. Collaborate. Problem-Solve: Critical Skills

If we want genius to show, then we must allow the genius to grow. How?

We provide lots of opportunities for the human genius to develop -- projects that require thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving, the skills most needed as adults.

One such project is the Marshmallow Project. Teams of students have eighteen minutes, 20 spaghetti sticks, one yard of masking tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow during which time and with those materials they must design and build the tallest structure possible with the marshmallow on top.

So how did students solve the problem?

How did they communicate and collaborate to solve the problem?

This team's structure was 13 inches from the table top to the top of the marshmallow. A seventh grade team built a structure 18.75 inches tall, and a sixth grade built a structure 17.5 inches tall. (Glogster).

Seventh Grade Team:
Sixth Grade Team

What's important? The quick thinking, revising, and communicating to collaborate; the ability to take a risk and try, the ability to persevere!

Be sure to read, watch, and learn (TED Talk) about the thousands of others who have tried this activity, from kindergarten to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. What were the results? Kindergartners were the best solvers because they kept testing the marshmallow and redesigning. Architects and engineers were the best solvers too because they have the skills to know about structures. Who would think a marshmallow could weigh so much?

And skills? Watch the video and see the teamwork. That's what kids need to learn.

Photo Credit: Genius by CC Flickr mrsdkrebs

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  1. Nice! I especially like the students' writing about their process.

    Hope you'll post this on P2PU and/or at the bigger LCL G+ community.

    1. Thanks, Karen. I learned from this activity that my students enjoyed it (of course), and that they need more opportunities to build the confidence and develop the strategies necessary to solve complex situations. And that's what we really need as an objective for education.


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