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Open Ended Problem Solving

Problem SolvingOur local school district every year sponsors a learning fair for students grade 4th through 6th. Basically, students complete a project at home and share it at the Learning Fair usually on a poster, table top or a demonstration. The whole idea is for the students to come up with a question or problem and answer it. My children and their friends have participated in it over the past several years and it is a wonderful event. It allows the students open ended learning where they pick the question. It is a great way to introduce early concepts of research and problem solving. In the end, the children learn so much and have so much fun along the way.
This year the two questions they came up with in our house are:
  1. How do you make cotton candy without a cotton candy machine?
  2. What can babies see?

Previous years have included how do cell phones work, how does a hair perm work and how do you make chewing gum? This is a super simple idea to try with your children to grow their abilities to learn and problem solve. Just remember let them pick the topic no matter what it might be (unless dangerous obviously – well making cotton candy without a machine actually turned out to be quite dangerous, hot sugar hurts!)

For the younger crowd, let them participate as well.  Let them come up with the question.  You may just need to help problem solve a bit along the way.  I think you will really enjoy just hearing their ideas and questions.