Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.9, 592-604
Published Online September 2013 in SciRes ( http://dx.doi.org10.4236/ce.2013.49085
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
Analyzing the Creative Problem-Solving Process: Inventing a
Product from a Given Recyclable Item
Caralee K. Doak, Stacey M. Jambura, Jason A. Knittel, Audrey C. Rule
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, USA
Received July 18th, 2013; revised August 18th, 2013; accepted August 25th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Caralee K. Doak et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
Detailed documentations of creative invention are scarce in the professional literature, but could be useful
to those engaging in or studying the problem solving process. This investigation describes the creative
process of graduate students (7 female, 4 male) in a problem-solving theory and practice course grappling
with the task of creating products from four identical recyclable items that were circular, star-impressed
bottoms of plastic juice bottles. Several popular models of the problem-solving process are compared to
the participants’ steps in this invention problem. Participants first provided emotional reactions to the
given ill-defined problem of making a product from the specified items. They used several techniques to
generate ideas and to restrict or define the problem, choosing an optimal product that fits their require-
ments. An analysis of participants’ reflections concerning their creative process showed that although par-
ticipants first found the problem challenging and could not conceptualize effective products, the idea-
generating activities assisted them in making a wide variety of useful products. Participants’ knowledge
and skill areas were highlighted by their choices of products. After completing and presenting a first
product, participants engaged in additional activities to generate ideas for a second product. The second
product was either an improvement of the first product, a new but related product, or a product inspired
by the work of others in the class. Products of this loosely defined problem included: maracas, dish, spin
top, candy suckers, closet organizers, party decorations, yoyo, ladybug, wall décor, flowers, catch game,
party hat, candle holders, moth life cycle, catapult game, toy clock, goblets, castanets, accessory organizer,
and spice shaker.
Keywords: Problem Solving; Creativity; Invention; Creative Process; Product Evaluation
This study documents the creative process of graduate stu-
dents in a problem-solving theory and practice course who were
presented with the ill-defined problem of creating a product
from given items: the circular, clear, star-impressed bottom
pieces of plastic juice bottles (often referred to here as “juice
bottle bottoms”). The goal of this article was to document and
analyze the creative process, while connecting it to existing
models, for the purpose of providing an in-depth example of
participants’ progression as they solve an ill-defined problem.
This investigation will be of use to others teaching about, im-
plementing, or studying the creative process. A multitude of
studies have been conducted to unravel the creative process and
various factors affecting it; however, few follow the process
in-depth from start to finish and provide the reader with details
of participant creative ideas, products, and reflections. Addi-
tionally, many models of the creative process have been put
forward, resulting in confusion to novices in the field. Although
this article does not have the scope to examine connections of
the participants’ processes to every creative model presented in
the professional literature, several familiar models, discussed in
the next section, will be addressed.
The Creative Problem Solving Process
Wallas’s Four Stages
Graham Wallas, in The Art of Thought (1926), stated the
creative process should include four major steps: preparation,
incubation, illumination, and verification. The preparation stage
is focused on learning the craft and understanding the task at
hand. During this stage, the problem and its requirements are
defined and information relevant to the problem is gathered.
The next stage, incubation, requires the conscious mind to stop
its focus on the problem, allowing the subconscious to take
over. This generally occurs when a person is occupied with
non-demanding tasks such as sleeping, walking, driving on an
interstate highway, or watching television. Illumination occurs
as a person suddenly becomes aware of one or more solutions
to the problem. The verification stage involves a check of the
viability of the solution, sometimes resulting in a revision lead-
ing to a more successful solution.
Creative Problem Solving Model
Alex Osborn’s (1963) Creative Problem Solving model also
used stages to outline the process. This popular model was
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 593
modified over time by Sidney Parnes (1981) and Donald Tref-
finger with Scott Isaksen (2005), acquiring additional steps. Six
steps compose the current model: 1) constructing opportunities
or mess-finding—locating a problem for application of the
problem solving process; 2) exploring data or fact-finding—
collecting, assessing, and reviewing all the available data per-
taining to the problem; 3) framing problems or problem-finding
—listing all possible ways of defining the problem; 4) generat-
ing ideas or idea-finding—generating ideas for solving the
problem, including those that are wild or unusual; 5) develop-
ing solutions or solution-finding—choose and apply criteria for
evaluating ideas to find the best solution; and 6) building ac-
ceptance or acceptance-finding—plan implementation by iden-
tifying responsible persons, a timeline of actions, and available
The I’s of Inspiration
Jane Piirto (2004) identified seven “I’s” of the creative proc-
ess: Inspiration, Imagery, Imagination, Improvisation, Intuition,
Incubation, and Insight to which “Implementation” was later
added (Davis, Rimm, & Siegle, 2011). Piirto identified several
areas of Inspiration that prompt attention to a problem: inspira-
tion of love or visitation of the muse in which one is inspired by
a loved one; inspiration of nature in which one sees the com-
monplace as new or beautiful; and inspiration of the intellectual
in which one delights in the creative accomplishments of others.
Another method of generating creative ideas uses Imagery or
pictures seen in the mind’s eye, along with Imagination. Im-
provisation or free-play with ideas, including humor, helps
boost creativity. Piirto recognized Intuition or subconscious
“knowing” of factors related to a solution that arrive through
psychic intuition or dreams. Incubation, similar to Wallas’s
stage, occurred during meditation or a release from conscious
thinking. Piirto’s insight is similar to Wallas’s illumination
stage as the moment when a person first experiences “Aha!”
The last “I” of “Implementation” was similar to the Creative
Problem Solving model’s last stage of “acceptance-finding”.
Basadur’s Four Stage, Eight Step Process
Basadur and colleagues (Basadur & Basadur, 2011; Basadur,
Graen, & Green, 1982) developed an organized and more com-
prehensive model of the creative problem-solving process from
a business viewpoint: Stage 1 Generation (steps of Problem
Finding and Fact Finding); Stage 2 Conceptualization (steps of
Problem Definition and Idea Finding); Stage 3 Optimization
(steps of Evaluate /Select and Plan); Stage 4 Implementation
(steps of Acceptance and Action). The first three stages of
Wallas’s model fit into the first half of Basadur’s model.
Problem finding may be the most crucial stage of the entire
process (Bassadur & Bassadur, 2011; Kabanoff & Rossiter,
1994) because the actual problem may be ambiguous or inter-
preted in many different ways (Getzels, 1982). Finding the
problem in science may be the most creative step of problem
solving because once the problem has been formulated, its so-
lution may just be a routine process of carrying out experiments
or calculations (Einstein & Infeld, 1938). Asking new questions
or regarding issues from new angles may lead to innovations.
Similarly, in art, the initiation of a work may not begin with a
problem in mind, but merely, an exploration of new media or
subject matter from which the problem emerges (Getzels, 1979;
Moore, 1955). Problem definition follows the generation stage
in which problem finding and fact finding occur. Ill-defined
problems require the additional creative work of placing re-
strictions to better define the problem. An ill-defined problem is
one in which the methods and solutions are not provided, al-
lowing problem finding to emerge (Lee & Cho, 2007). The
problem in the current investigation was ill-defined so that
participants could engage in the creative act of defining a prob-
Eleven adults (7 female, 4 male; 1 African American, 2 Mid-
dle Eastern, 1 European, and 7 Euro-American), who were
involved in a graduate course in problem-solving, participated
in this study. The activities occurred over a five-week period
(during a semester-long course) as participants created and re-
created inventions from given recycled items. This research
project was approved by the Human Subjects Committee of the
overseeing university; all participants gave written consent for
their data and photographs of their work to be included in the
Organization of the Problem-Solving Activities
Table 1 shows general connections between several models
of the creative problem solving process and the activities of the
current investigation.
1) The course. The problem solving course in which the
study took place addressed both theory and practice of problem
solving. The course was an elective course for masters-level
educators interested in gifted education and for doctoral-level
candidates who were planning to be college instructors or
school leaders. The topic of problem finding had been dis-
cussed in depth in class, along with several different theoretical
and practical approaches to problem solving.
2) Initial reactions. At the start of this project, four plastic
juice bottle bottoms were provided to each participant. Partici-
pants were asked to begin thinking about an invention or prod-
uct they could make using one or more juice bottle bottoms.
Participants were asked to record their initial reactions to the
task. The ensuing discussion led to challenges, ideas, and con-
cerns to guide future process steps.
3) Idea finding and problem definition. Before actually
creating a product, participants were asked to complete a set of
three idea finding or problem definition activities. Participants
later reflected on the results. Participants were given a drawing
of the floor plan of a house and asked to think of products used
within each room that could be made with the given circular
plastic pieces: kitchen, bathroom, dining room, bedroom, living
room, and balcony, garage, car or workplace, and garden. Other
areas for which to generate possibilities included an indoor
kids’ playroom, clothes closet, jewelry chest, and other places
of personal choice.
In the second part, participants better def ined the p roblem by
generating ways to structure the problem beyond “make a
product using one or more juice bottle bottom pieces.” Partici-
pants were required to define ten different ways to further re-
strict the problem.
The third part of the activity asked participants to consider
different ways of arranging or altering the plastic juice bottle
bottom disks to generate additional product ideas. The given
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
Table 1.
Comparison of models of the creative process of problem solving.
Four Stages
Creative Problem
Solving Model of
Osborn (19 63),
Parnes (1981), and
Treffinge r & Isaksen
I’s of Inspiration
Piirto (2004) and
Davis, Rimm, &
Siegle (2011)
Four Stage, Eight Ste p
Basadur & Basadur
(2011), Basadur,
Graen, & Green (1982)
Bridge of
Adair (2010) Current Study Activities
Part 1: Understanding
the Challenge Stage 1: Gene r ation Enrollmen t i n a class on problem solving
(Mess-Finding) Problem-Finding Being presented with the ill- defined problem
of making a product of the plastic pi eces
Exploring Data
Fact-finding Thinking a bo ut the problem and generating
initial idea s
Imagining p r oducts for rooms in a house
Framing Pr o bl ems
(Problem-Finding) Imagery
Stage 2:
Problem Definition
Pillar 1:
Defining the
Adding constraints to define the problem
Incubation Generating i deas by manipulating the pieces
Incubation Intuition
Improvisation Allowing one’s subconscious to work on the
Part 2 Gene r ating
Ideas Gen erating
ideas (Idea-Finding)
Pillar 2:
Options Feeling that one has some good ideas
Stage 3: Optimization Identifying more and less creative ideas
Part 3 Preparing for
Action Developing
(Solution-Finding) Select and Plan Choosing an idea for the product
Stage 4:
Implementation Making the first product
Acceptance Viewing pr o ducts of others to gain id eas
Additional creative idea generation activities
Building Acceptance
(Acceptance- Fi nd ing)
Pillar 3:
Choosing the
Making the second prod uct
ways to manipulate the items were: 1) drill holes, cut slots, and
use hot glue, epoxy, and string to attach; 2) use paint, markers,
foil, glitter or sequins; 3) arrange in a circle, band, sheet, row,
pile, sphere, flat, stack, doubled as a lentil, or single; 4) arrange
as a dangling disk, as a container, as support, as a pedestal, as a
lid, as a wall, or as a scoop.
Using the results from the idea finding activity, participants
reflected upon their discoveries. The survey reflection included
several items. Participants were asked to circle a number on a
scale from 1 to 10 with “1” representing the “not creative” end
of the continuum and “10” the “extremely creative” endpoint to
indicate the level of creativity for their generated set of ideas
from the three exercises. On a similar scale, participants were
next asked to circle a number to indicate overall, daily creative
ability with 5 or 6 being average. Participants were asked to
identify the activity that helped them the most to generate crea-
tive ideas and to tell why. They were also required to identify
their most creative ideas and least creative ideas, explaining
their reasoning for both. Finally, participants described emo-
tional thoughts they had during the process of generating ideas.
4) First products and reflections. Participants were given
one week to design and produce their most creative idea. Each
product was placed on display and photographed while partici-
pants described their process details to the class. Following the
group share, participants completed a reflection survey in
which they rated the creativity of their product and their overall,
daily creativity. They also explained how they obtained their
creative ideas and determined the most creative aspect of their
product. They told why they chose to make this product rather
than other alternative ideas, discussed skills that influenced the
way they made their products, and told insights, inspirations, or
ideas do they had after seeing the creative products that other
people in the class made .
After sharing and reflecting, the participants were introduced
to Eberle’s (2008) SCAMPER process using Michalko’s
Thinkpak (2006). SCAMPER is an acronym listing actions to
guide this process: substitute, combine, adapt, magnify, minify,
modify, put to another use, eliminate, reverse and rearrange.
Each person drew a Thinkpak card and explained how the
SCAMPER operation described on the card could be applied to
their product. The activity was repeated, leading to an open
discussion about improving the first product or inventing a new,
yet related, product.
5) Second products and ref lections. Part ici pants we re give n
two weeks to complete an improved or new product. During
class, participants showed their second products, pointed out
improved or innovative features, discussed the inspiration for
the product, and explained the relationship of the second prod-
uct to the first product. The creative process was finalized with
another survey in which participants were asked to rate the
creativity of their second product; to rate their overall, daily
creative ability; to clarify the connection between the first and
second product; to explain the inspiration for the second prod-
uct, along with skills that influenced the way participants made
their products; to identify the most creative aspects of the sec-
ond product; and, finally, to tell insights, inspirations, or ideas
they obtained from seeing the creative second products of
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 595
Data Analysis
The quantitative analysis involved calculation of means with
standard deviations; employed t-tests to determine significant
The qualitative analysis utilized the constant comparison
method to group ideas with similar ideas into categories. These
categories underwent continuous refinement as additional par-
ticipant responses were analyzed and often category labels
shifted and defined new relationships (Dye, Schatz, Rosenberg,
& Coleman, 2000; Goetz & LeCompte, 1981).
Initial Reactions to the Problem
The juice bottle and two cut-out bottom pieces are shown in
Figure 1. Table 2 shows people’s initial reactions to being
asked to create a product from the recycled circular plastic bot-
tom pieces cut from a juice bottle. Many people immediately
sought to define the problem better by asking about other mate-
rials, expressing a desire for a useful product, and seeking
guidelines to better define the problem. Everyone tried to define
the problem more clearly. Some people expressed insecurities
about their creativity and had a desire to make the product
visually appealing while acknowledging their interest in the
Generating Ideas for the Product
Imagining products for rooms in a house. Table 3 shows
the ideas participants generated as they visualized how a juice
bottle bottom might be made into a product for each room of a
house. Each room resulted in numerous ideas with little repeti-
tion. Participants exhibited little functional fixedness (Duncker,
1945) by using these items as shallow dishes or containers
similar to their original use as the bottom of a juice container.
Instead, a large variety of configurations and uses were gener-
Defining the problem more narrowly. Table 4 provides
categories of participant responses to restricting or defining the
problem. The problem initially presented to the participants was
not well-defined. A well-defined problem gives little room for
problem finding because the problem is a standard one with a
known method of solving that will result in a correct answer
(Dillon, 1982; Getzels, 1987; Lee & Cho, 2007). The problem
in the current study was ill-structured because minimal infor-
mation and restrictions were given (i.e., “Make an invention
using one or more juice bottle bottoms”); participants needed to
define their own sub-problems to produce creative products
(Lee & Cho, 2007; Reiter-Palmon, Mumford, Boes, & Runco,
The data in Table 4 demonstrate the strong desire of many
participants to make a useful product rather than a merely
decorative one. Many of the restrictions were goals for the use
of the product rather than restrictions for how it would be cre-
ated or other non-goal constraints.
Ideas generated by manipulating the plastic pieces. Table
5 shows the ideas generated from considering different ways
the recycled plastic disks might be manipulated (e.g., attached
with hot glue, arranged in a circle, dangling) or treated (e.g.,
drilled). The first category of Table 5 presents ideas generated
by considering how holes might be used in the creation of an
Figure 1.
A plastic juice bottl e and two cir-
cular bottom pieces.
Table 2.
Initial concerns and reactions when project was introduced.
FrequencyIssue Example Statements
9 Other
How will I include a maximum number of
juice bottle bottoms with a minimum of
other mate rials? What other materia ls can
I use?
9 Technical
and tool
Cutting them will be hard as the plastic is
rather thick. If making a mold, need to
make a hole for filling that won’t ruin the
7 Useful
How will I nail down a useful product?
I’d like to make a product that would
actually be used.
5 Concern
How in the world can I turn this into
something else? Do I need to be crafty?
5 Guidelines
What are the guideline s f o r a produc t?
What concept am I applying?
5 Originality
Does it have to be something new? I want
my product t o be one of a kin d.
4 Adhesives
How will I get these materials to hold
together? What is the best a dhesive for
4 Visually
I want to make sure my work is beautiful
to look at. People like color, so the
product should be colorful.
3 Early ideas
Looks like a shield. Remi nds me of
enough juice
bottoms for
the product
Might have t o spend money to buy more
juice bottles to get enough bottoms for my
2 Interesting
problem This will be challenging but interesting.
2 Safety Safety of my product is importa nt .
1 Diversity
Can we combine const r uction and w r iting
and tie it al l to a diversit y issue?
1 EnvironmentAm I polluting t he environm ent by
making something or should I just
1 InexpensiveI want my produ ct to be ine xpensive.
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
Table 3.
Ideas generated by thinking of how the juice bottle bottoms might be made into a product used in each part of a house.
Room Items to Be Made of Juice Bottle Bott om or Bottoms
Kitchen Candy dish; chopped ve getable cont ainer; decoration on c urtain; detergent measuring cup ; j ewelry hol d er on windowsill; mold for
chocolate, Jell-O, or ice; Popsicle m elting protection; pot scrubber rest; saucer; sink stopper; slotted spoon, spoon rest, stove utensil rest;
tea bag holder; window prism
Bathroom Back scrubber; bath t oy ; curtain ring; curtain weight; curtain (link together to form continuous surface); decoration on tub; drawer
organizer; jewelry holder; liq uid make-up holder; single-dose medicine container ; s oap dish; toothbrush holder; tub drain s t opper;
window curtain.
Dining Room Appetizer plate; base for bowls, glasses created from recycled plastic b ottles; bread plate; chair back d ecoration; chandelier; coasters;
individual condiment holder; ind ividual hors d’oeuvres plates; lamp shade; lemon slice holder; n ameplate; nametag; napkin holder;
painted and mounted in front of light for ambiance; pot holder; servi ng dish; underneath table leg; vase bottom.
Bedroom Ba by mobile for cri b; bed frame po st; candle holder; coin tray; door stop; earring holder; hanging wind c himes; jewelry holder; jewelry
such as pin, medallion, bangle; lamp cover; mobile; outlet cover; base of potpourri holder ; reminder u nder pillow; sleep mask (paint two
black); wall decoration; wall hanger.
Living Room Artwork or wall hanging; bookends; candle holder; candy dish; checkers game pieces; coasters; decoration on lamp; decoration on TV;
furniture coaster or slide under leg; light pull; outle t cover; prop for remote control; retro room divide r; small cove r for plate; spinner for
Balcony Alarm system cover; ashtray; bird feeder; bird nest support; c oaster for drinks; cover for bottles or drinks to keep out bugs; hanging
mechanism for mobile; nut dish; outdoor lighting; plant stand; rain catcher; Tiki torch; wind bell or wind chime .
Kids’ Play Area Bean bag targets; dog dish; doll’s bath tub; draw faces on them and use as game; flying saucer toy; Frisbee; game pieces; kids’ craft
stamper; manipulatives for counting; music al instrum ent; paint pallet; rattle; scoop for sandbox; spinning top; tires for toy cars; window
in doll house.
Garage Bike hanger; container fo r loose nuts , bolts, screws; curtain for window giving frosted effect; decoration on ceiling or wall; hanger to
indicate when to stop car w hen pulling into garage; headlight cover/ re placement; mini shelves for small items; number hanger; oil drip
catcher; paint container for touch-ups; reminder on c ar door; spoon or scoop; temporary paint can cover.
Car or
Car traction under tire; cell phone holde r; coin bank or ho lder; containe r for paper c lips; cover on cu ps in car; hanging air freshener;
hanging rear-view mirror decoration; mix paints for touch-up and lay wet brush on tray; portable pl ate; rem i n der on windshield; scraper
for ice on windows; tea bag rest.
Bird feeder; border around plantin gs; create a network of juice bottle bottoms for a vente d gr eenhouse effect; cut it and attach to stick as
rake; decoration or sig n o n tree or fence; digger; drill holes fo r drip irrigation; edger; golf hole cover; holder for seeds to be planted;
landmark for plantings; pet pooper scooper; pet t oy; protect seedlings with small hand ti l ler; row marker ; shovel; sun catcher; turn into
plastic flower decoration; use with twinkle lights for decorat ion.
Clothes Closet
or Jewelry
Attach adhesiv e for lint rem over; clothes tag; clothing divider; cut outside in shape of plus sign and screw to wa ll as clothes hanger;
divider in closet; hanger for jewelry; jewelry st and made from several combined; label for dirty clot h es; make into decorative vest;
make on a base and cut another into X shape and store rings on it; ne ck lace hanger/ organizer; paint to match clothing; ring holder;
sachet; sca rf hanger; separator for neckties or scarves; show stretcher or support.
item. The addition of color and glitter or sequins inspired par-
ticipants to envision decorative items as shown in the second
category of Table 5. Arrangement of multiple juice bottle bot-
toms into different configurations prompted a multitude of
invention designs ranging from alphabet letters to an outlet
cover to a Tiki torch. The given ways of manipulating the recy-
cled bottle parts in the last category in Table 5 resulted in
many items used as containers and supports.
This strategy of thinking about different ways of manipulat-
ing the juice bottle bottoms allowed participants to generate
over 150 different ideas. Participants considered this technique
helpful as many were wondering what they might be able to do
with these recycled items besides the obvious ideas of using
them as wheels on a toy or a type of dish. The way of manipu-
lation can be easily correlated with the generated ideas as they
were often directly connected to the wording of the suggested
Favored strategies for idea-generation. Table 6 gives par-
ticipants’ reflections regarding why they favored one idea-
generation strategy over others when generating creative ideas.
The largest number of participants favored the strategy of
imagining the juice bottle bottom as an item in different rooms,
stating their main reason as the visual support afforded by the
house floor plan diagram. Michalko (2001), in his book of
strategies for generating creative ideas, noted that the explosion
of creativity during the Renaissance was strongly connected to
the use of graphics (e.g., drawings, diagrams, sketches) in re-
cording and presenting knowledge. His strategy of making
thoughts visible was favored by participants who mentioned
that the visual floor plan allowed them to better produce effec-
tive ideas.
Emotional reactions to the project. Table 7 demonstrates
the participants’ reflections focused on emotions. Participants
were asked to describe the emotional reactions they experi-
enced during the process of using the recently discussed strate-
gies (considering items for different rooms of a house; ma-
nipulating the juice bottle bottoms in different ways; imposing
a variety of restrictions to better define the problem). There
were 10 strongly positive reactions and 14 negative ones. The
last item in the positive column of Table 7 contains both nega-
tive and positive aspects although the final reaction was more
positive (relief). Many of the negative reactions reflected a lack
of self-confidence rather than dislike of the task. The relatively
low number of emotional reactions that involved enjoyment
and play may be reflective of the participant pool of graduate
students who often feel pressured to perform well on everything.
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 597
Table 4.
Possible restrictions and ways of defining the product to be made of recycled juice bottle bottoms.
Frequency Category Example Problem Definition Statements
25 Purposeful and Useful Product Product needs to be used at home. Use th e product f or seaside pu rposes. The product needs to be more
useful than decorative.
15 Configuration or Method of
Construction Must use hot glu e, string o r o ther type s o f f asteners to make the product. One juice bottle bottom pi ece
must remain intact. The product must stay transparent.
7 Educa t i o nal or Effective in
Facilitatin g a Higher Purpo se The final product must be aimed at helping tho s e of lower socio-economic status. This item should be
used by all across race or ethnicity. The product must be designed to better the world.
7 Attractive Product must be pleasing t o the eye. Product must be a ttractive to children.
6 Decorative
The produc t can be encrus t ed with glitter, sequins, buttons, etc. for decoration. The product needs to be
decorated with paints o r markers.
5 Shape The product must stay round. The product should resemble an animal in shape.
5 Safety
The produc t n eeds to ha ve no sharp edges. Th e product must b e large enough not to be swallowe d by
5 Manufacture and Marketing Needs to take less than 30 minutes to manufacture b y hand. The product should be put together a s a
do-it-yourself kit.
4 Environmentally Friendly
The product must send a positive m essage abo ut recycling. The product should p ro mote environmental
education and e njoyment.
3 Toy The product should be a toy or something to play with.
3 Melting of Plastic The product should not be melted during its manufacture. One can heat and melt the plast i c juice bottl e
bottoms while creating the product.
2 Teamwork
The class sho uld dete r mine the central theme. The produc t has to be made by a team—each person adds
something and then passes it on to the next person.
2 Portable The product must be portable.
2 New and Original The product must be completely new. The product can be a modification of an existing item .
2 Durable The product must be durable .
2 Cost The cost of manufacture should be no more t han $5.00.
1 Time The time for the product’s creation must be limited.
Table 5.
Ideas generated by thinking of how the juice bottle bottoms might be manipulated in different ways.
Way of Manipul ating Items to be made of Juice Bottle Bottom or Bottoms
Drill holes, cut slot,
use hot glue, epoxy,
string, to attach
Add holes for slotted spoon; bird feeder (4); castanets; cat toy (2); catapult; cha ndelier; clothing divider; coat rack; connect six in
cube shape, fill holes with duct tape, a n d create slot fo r b ank; covers; decorative flower; drawer organizer; drill many holes and
attach a stick for a mini sa nd sifter; fancy door knob wit h gems inside; g o-cart wheels; glue together with beads inside for rattle;
hanger saver; hanger; hanging pot holder; j ewelry stand (2); key holder; lamp shade; l emon holde r; make a hole in middle fo r a
nail and hold the plastic—not the nail—when hammerin g i n a nail; make hole in middle for napkin holder (2); multi-layer foun-
tain; paperweight; pepper shaker lid; pieces for a de coration; plastic snowflake decorations ; protect seedlings; servin g b owl, stove
rest; sun catcher; thread roll; tiss u e holder; t o t e bag; wall sticker; wheels for toy; wi n d chime (4)
Use paint, markers,
line with foil, encrust
with glitter, s equins
to color or decorate
Bangle bracelet, belt buckle; brooch (2); Christmas ornament (3); coaster (2); connect three together, attach handle, and decorate
for a fan; decoration; doorknob decorati on; earrings (5); flowe rs; flying saucer toy; Frisbee ; hair accessory ; holiday de cor ation; lid;
line with foil for mini solar cooker; musical instrument; necklace pendant (2); number sign; original artwork; paper holder; parking
tag; pattern for painting or pastry; plan t decoration; reflector a l ong path; reflector to wear when walking; reward for achievement;
sewn into a fabr i c bag and w alk on to massage fee t ; s h ell game; stack together, paint green and glitter f o r Christmas trees; stained
glass; sun catcher (2); tag; tea bag holder; wall decoration (3); wreath
Arrange in a circle,
band, sheet, row, pile,
sphere, flat, stack,
doubled as a lentil, or
Alphabet letters; bed frame post; bicycl e decoration on spokes; bird feeder; bobbin for ribbon; bookends; carry out cup lid;
chocolate mold; classroo m spotligh t ; coin holder; counter; curtain; decorative bowl; drum; earring; Frisbe e; frosted window;
furniture slides; goggle eye glasses; headlight co ver; ice mold; kaleidoscope; knee protector; lightweight ball; mancala game
board; mini-plates for dips; necklace (2); noise maker; outlet cover; paint palette; picture frame; plastic vest; playhouse window;
reminder; replace token when playing cards; ring for drawing back curtains; snowflake ornament; soap dish; soap or candle mold;
target; Tiki t orch; toy hat; wall hanging ; wreath (3); yoyo
As a dangling disk, as
container, a s support,
pedestal, as lid, as
wall, as sco op
Attach two on sides of a cap as a translucent sun shield; at t ach to bottom of shoes as ice grippers; bird feeder (2); candle holder
(2); candy dish; chandelie r; child’s mobile; connect four to make walls of a mini-terra rium; cove r for seeds on gro und; cup lid;
decoration on car hub ca p; game—place several on floor and try to toss r ocks into them; glass and bowl support ba se; ice fishin g
slush scoop; individual salsa container; jewelry stand (2); Kool-Aid s t ir spoon; ladle; litter bo x s cooper; measuring cup; medallion;
mobile (2); nail/screw container; paperweight; pe destal for spices; potpourri holder; pr ivacy screen; roulette; room divider;
scarecrow; scoop for Epsom salts for bath; seed starter; signs; soap dish; spoon rest; sugar scoop; sun catc her; support between
book and wall of library; sup port for contact lens case; taps for shoes ; tea bag rest; use to fix hole i n cloths by draw ing through
hole in juice bottle bottom and tying with rib bon; wind c himes (2)
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
Table 6.
Reasons for favoring one above the other idea generating activities.
Activity Frequency
Chosen Reasons for Favoring This Method for
Idea Generation
products for
By seeing the room, I could focus on that
I am a visual learner and could vis ualize
the products in the rooms.
The visual support of the room layouts
was important for me.
activity 4
The choices of how to arrange the jui ce
bottle botto m disks hel ped me generate
product ideas.
This helped me think of a greater variety
of ways to use the disks.
I wasn’t restricted by where the object
could be used.
Page of
constraints 2
This was like verbal brainstormi ng for
I only had to consider one idea and how
to constrain it.
Table 7.
Emotional reactions early in the project.
Positive Emotional Reactions Frequency
Excitement at the creative challenge 4
Playful, childlike, joyful in trying out ideas 3
Completely engrossed in the problem 2
Satisfactio n in gene ra ting go od ide a s 1
Stressed to have to genera te ideas followed by relief when
the task was complete 5
Negative Emotional Reactions Frequency
Frustrated or exasperated when trying to think of ideas 5
Lack of confidence in ability to be creative 4
Confused or perplexed about what to do next 2
Restricted or limited by the juice bottle bottoms 2
Fear of not having enough time to think of the best idea 1
Identifying more- and less-creative ideas. The reasons
given for choosing a product as particularly creative, as shown
in Table 8, are originality, visual appeal, complexity, and func-
tionality. Personal implicit theories allowed participants to
judge the creativity of their products even when these individu-
als did not perhaps have a specific definition of creativity in
mind. Implicit theories are personal opinions of non-experts in
contrast to explicit theories developed by professionals through
research (Runco, Nemiro, & Walberg, 1998). Two of the crite-
ria, originality and functionality, used by participants were
similar to those identified in a study of implicit theories of crea-
tivity of students from the United States, China, and Japan:
novelty and appropriateness (Paletz & Peng, 2008). Elaboration
and originality, along with fluency and flexibility, are Guil-
ford’s four divergent production abilities that are often used as
a foundation for measuring creativity (Guilford, 1967: p. 138).
Participants identified complexity as a criterion for identifying
a creative product; this may be similar to elaboration. Addition-
Table 8.
Reasons for choosing ideas as particularly creative after the early idea-
generating activities.
Reason for
Choosing Idea
as Creative Idea How the Idea Was
Protect hands when
hammering a nail by
using a hole drilled in
the juice bottle bottom
to hold the nail
Mentally visu alizing
where I can use the item
Clothing divide r in
closet Examining needs in my
own closet
Line with foil for mini
solar cooker
Continually thought of
ways to combine and
manipulate the bottoms
idea that I have
not seen before
Small hand t rowel I like to work with
gardening and so thought
of how to use it there
Wall sticker Focusing on rooms
helped me get this idea
Chandelier Thinking of the rooms
and what y ou might find
in them
The light art sculpture
with beautiful lighting
I combined some of my
technical th eatre skills as
a designer with the juice
bottle botto ms
Decorative book ends
that are drill ed, glued,
painted, decorated and
made of multiple juice
bottle botto ms
I put mysel f in t h at room
and observe d my
Complexity of
Making a mold and then
using it to paint the wall
The bottom has a star that
made me think of a
functional Holder Some way I would r eally
use it
ally, complexity has been identified as the most important
characteristic of highly creative visual arts products (Brittain &
Beittel, 1960). Finally, visual appeal, identified as a criterion
for a creative product by participants, has also been used as a
criterion in a study of art students’ products (Getzels & Csik-
szentmihalyi, 1976): artists and art critiques rated drawings on
aesthetic value. Additionally, The Torrance Tests of Creative
Thinking streamlined scoring guide (Torrance, Ball, & Safter,
2008) lists the creative strength of “richness of imagery” as a
score-able creative trait. This creative strength involves images
that are lively, intense, vivid, appealing to the viewer, and show
Participants’ reasons given for classing ideas as not creative,
provided in Table 9, seemed to be the opposite of why ideas
were chosen for being most creative. However, lack of visual
appeal was not a reason that appeared to influence a decision of
lack of creativity in this participant sample.
The First Products
Figures 2 and 3 show the products generated by participants.
Everyone was able to create a viable and satisfactory product
from the juice bottle bottom pieces. Two people created two
products (one person made the dish and spin top; another
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 599
Table 9.
Reasons ideas were judged as not creative.
Category of
Reason Specific Reason Idea Judged as Not
Very Creative
It was one of my first ideas Drink coaster
These ideas seemed obvious Medallion
The idea is not new; there are
ornaments t hat look like these
bottle bottoms that are sold in
stores for Christmas decorations
Holiday orna ment
All of the saucer and litt le dish
ideas because they are basically
the same idea Coin tray
Lack of
Anything c ou ld be used for
decoration Decorative pieces
Soap dish
Tray for nuts and
Wheels for toy
Miniature Frisbee
Lack of
You would n’ t h ave to transform
it or do anything to it
You don’t have to change its
look or comp o sition
Coin holder
Knee protector
Lack of
Functionality It would not really fu l f ill the
function well Wind chime
person made the party hat and flowers); one of these was in-
spired by suggestions from a relative (the flowers). The prod-
ucts represented a wide range of usage areas from entertain-
ment (maracas, party decoration, party hat, spin top, catch game,
yoy o) to tab le and food use (candy suckers, dish, candle holders)
to home décor (party decoration, wall decoration, flower ar-
rangement) and household use (closet clothing organiz e rs).
The products were strongly influenced by the skills, interests,
and prior experiences of the makers. For example, a person
with theatre experience made the maracas and performed
briefly with them when showing them to the class. The candle-
sticks were made by a participant who had been involved in
theatrical set design: she explained that she had often been re-
quired to create expensive-looking set items from inexpensive
materials. The person who made the wall décor told how she
had made other decorative elements for her home in these same
colors. The participant who made the ladybug on the yarn
flower had experience in crochet and knitting. The catch game
was influenced by an elementary-age son of a participant who
enjoys active games. Similarly, the creator of the party hat often
makes paper hats for special occasions.
Techniques for manipulating the given material for the
first product. The physical properties of the juice bottle bottom
pieces affected the product choices of participants. Several
people remarked on the light and shadow pattern of the
star-shaped mold impression in the center of the circular plastic
piece, expressing a desire to make use of that in the product.
Makers of the dish, spin top, yoyo, candlestick holders and
catch game enjoyed this effect, highlighting it in their products.
Several other participants used the art technique of reverse
painting to produce a colorful object with a very glossy plastic
Figure 2.
First products (Part 1).
Figure 3.
First products (Part 2).
surface. The room décor and closet clothing bar organizers
employed this technique. The maracas and ladybug combined
sparing use of paint with the transparent light and shadow de-
sign to produce pleasing patterns in their products. Applying
black marker lines and glitter to the back of the plastic piece
was combined with reverse painting to make a shimmering,
glossy product in the psychic eyes of the party hat and the
flowers in a pot. The star-shaped central impression of the
given recycled plastic pieces was put to use as a candy mold for
the colorful, patterned candy suckers. Finally, the cupped, cir-
cular shape of these plastic pieces was covered with wrapping
paper and used as a support for bows and additional decorations
in the party decoration.
Participants used a variety of methods to attach the plastic
pieces to each other or to additional materials. Drilling holes
was the method used by several participants. The closet cloth-
ing rod organizers were produced by drilling a very large cen-
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
tral hole so that they could slide onto the closet rod. Screws
inserted into drilled holes held together the fancy dish and spin
top, while a small wooden dowel was placed in a drilled hole
for the yoyo. Wire was used in drilled holes to attach the lady-
bug wings, chenille sticks were used as flower stems for the
flower pot, and thread was sewn through holes in the eyes for
the party hat. The makers of the maracas, wall décor, and can-
dle holders used hot glue or cement to hold their inventions
together. The participant who made the maracas explained that
she used the colorful yarn braid to decorate the maracas while
hiding the hot glue seam. Finally, two types of tape were used
in these first products. The ball toss and catch game’s creator
used duct tape to hold a spoon to each of the catch paddles,
while the party decoration maker used clear plastic tape to at-
tach the party decorations.
Criteria for choosing a product idea. Table 10 shows par-
ticipant reasoning for choosing one idea over others for the first
product. Many reasons focused on practical aspects of creating
the product. This may be a reflection of the limited time gradu-
ate students have for homework. The last two reasons given in
Table 10 correlate with two of the factors for considering a
work to be creative: usefulness and originality.
Creation of the Second Products
Participants had two weeks to create a second product with
one to four juice bottle bottoms. Researchers observed that par-
ticipants approached the second challenge with enthusiasm fueled
by recent success of making a first product. Most welcomed the
opportunity to improve the first product or implement new
ideas to make a new product.
Products made. Figures 4 and 5 present the second prod-
ucts made by participants. Again, participants created a variety
of colorful, useful items. Two materials for teaching elementary
students were produced: an attractive diagram of the life cycle
of the Polythemus Moth, and a two-sided hedgehog having a
clock with movable hands on one side and information about
the diet of the animal on the other. This is a reflection of the
study population as being composed of teachers or former tea-
Participants’ second products formed four categories: prod-
ucts that were very similar to the first products but improved in
some way (see Figure 6); second products that resulted from
the expansion of first product ideas into additional items (see
Figure 7); products that were different than the first products,
but related by being similar in theme (see Figure 8); and, fi-
nally, products that were inspired by the first product ideas of
other class members (see Figure 9), as discussed in the next
Inspiration from viewing products of other participants.
Table 11 presents participants’ insights, inspirations, and ideas
after seeing the creative products of classmates. Responses
between the making of the first and second products were very
similar: both times participants noted how they might use a
technique in the future; remarked about the desirability of
decoration; suggested they might make use of other people’s
ideas; commented that recycled materials might be put to use
for other products; observed that interest and strengths contrib-
ute to effective products; and mentioned that usefulness was
important. Initial perceptions of the assignment were that the
circular juice bottle bottoms would limit the creative ideas for
products. The third insight category shows that six people noted
Table 10.
Reasons given for why idea for first product was chosen above other
competing ide as.
Frequency Reason Product Was Chosen
3 Clear vision of how to make it
3 Could use available items without spendi ng extra
3 Do-able within time constraints
3 Practical product that will actu ally be used
2 Perceived as a unique idea
Table 11.
Insights after makin g t he fi rst and second products .
ProductFrequency Insight Category
9 A technique I might u se in the future.
7 More decoration/elaboration is a plus.
6 Although at first the given items s eemed
limiting, they were not.
4 One’s experiences and skills influenced
4 Many items might be recycled—o ne could
create challenges.
3 Taking another person’s idea and applying
it to your own product.
3 Practical/usable items are effec tive.
11 Another pe rson’s ideas of expanding the
product mi ght be applied to m y own or t o a
new product.
7 One could make even more useful things
with recycled items.
6 A technique I might u se in the future.
4 The nature of creativity as being learned
and related to personality and strengths.
1 Practical/usable items are effec tive.
1 More decoration/elaboration is a plus.
Figure 4.
Second products (Part 1).
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 601
Figure 5.
Second products (Part 2).
Figure 6.
First products changed to produce bet-
ter-crafted second pr o d u c t s.
Figure 7.
First products expanded to make re-
lated second products.
that one could indeed generate many viable, different, creative
Creative aspects of products. Participants’ identification of
the most creative aspects of both the first product and the sec-
ond product are shown in Table 12. In both trials, three of the
eight components of a creative product (Cropley, 2000) were
Figure 8.
Second products related by category to
the first products.
Figure 9.
Second products inspired by the first
products of others.
recognized by participants in their work: well-craftedness, aes-
thetic appeal, and relevance. Two other components, originality
and usefulness, were mentioned once in the two trials. The
remaining three components of creative products listed by
Cropley, complexity, understandability, and germinality (in-
troducing a new way of conceptualizing an area by opening up
new approaches to the problem (Runco & Pritzker, 2011) were
not discussed as most creative traits of products. However, the
set of products produced exhibited all eight of these traits; par-
ticipants just did not recognize the last three traits as being their
products’ most creative aspects. For example, one of the first
products, the candy sucker, showed germinality because it in-
troduced a new way of thinking about products using the bottle
bottom pieces. Instead of using the pieces as part of a plastic
product, the inventor used the pieces as molds to make a candy
product. This was an entirely new way of viewing the problem.
Influences and ideas for products. Table 13 explains the
participants’ skills that influenced the creation of their products.
Most participants mentioned content knowledge within a do-
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
Table 12.
Most creative aspects of produc t de ter mined by maker.
Product Frequency Specific Creative Aspect General Creative
6 Solving a technical
problem with t he product
in an effective way Well-craftedness
4 Appea ling phy sic a l
appearance of the product Pleasingness or
aesthetic appeal
Product wa s construc t ed
from given and available
items; no new components
had to be purchased
1 T a king a co mmon ide a and
making it unique Originality
1 Being able to make
something that stood up to
my standards Well-craftedness
Product wa s construc t ed
from given and available
items; no new components
had to be purchased
4 Solving a technical
problem with t he product
in an effective way Well-craftedness
4 Appea ling phy sic a l
appearance of the product Pleasingness or
aesthetic appeal
1 Functionality of the
product Usefulness
main, experience and preparation, and cognitive skills from
various domains as influencing their product choice, as these
are dimensions (along with social-emotional processes, family
aspects, cultural aspects, and historical forces) of creative de-
velopment leading to successful product creation in a domain
(Feldman, 1999). These findings indicate that participants tend-
ed to create their products in domains with which they had
experience and psychological comfort. Several personality
traits were also mentioned: active imagination, playful attitude,
patience, flexibility, and ability to restructure problems. These
personality traits or abilities were five of 11 listed by Cropley
Table 14 shows how the students obtained their ideas when
creating both the first and second products. During the creation
of the first product, many participants imposed criteria on their
product choices, more than the second trial in which they
tended to use a strategy to modify their first product. Those
who created a new product, somehow related to the first prod-
uct but not a modification or improvement of it, seemed to be
the ones who reported imposing new criteria on their work for
the second trial. Those whose second products were improve-
ments of their first tended to report using strategies to obtain
Perceptions of creativity. Table 15 documents the partici-
pants’ perceptions of personal creativity and creativity of prod-
ucts during the study, from the initial activity to the final prod-
uct. T-tests were conducted to determine if statistically signifi-
cant differences existed between perceived general creativity
from the beginning to the end of the study and between per-
ceived creativity of the first and second products. No significant
differences were found. This result may be related to the time
span of the study being fairly short (5 weeks), the fact that par-
ticipants had practiced some creative techniques with other
Table 13.
Skills reported that influenced their product choice and creation.
Frequency Skills That Influenced P roduct Origin
7 Drawing, cutting, craft and paintin g
experience allowed
conceptualization of the product
Domain c o ntent
knowledge and
5 Active imagination and ability to
visualize Personality trait
5 Access to and expertise w i t h a drill
and duct tape
Domain c o ntent
knowledge and
3 Sewing/crocheting/knitting skills Domain content
knowledge and
3 Experience with theater and set
Domain c o ntent
knowledge and
2 Science kn owledge Domain content
knowledge and
2 Playful attitude Personality trait
2 Experienc e in choco l ate candy
making, cooking, baking
Domain c o ntent
knowledge and
2 Art and décor design Domain c o ntent
knowledge and
1 Patience Personality t r ait
1 Modeling/sc ulp tin g skil ls Domain content
knowledge and
1 Ability to adapt items ( flexibility)
and restructure problems Personality t r ait
assignments previously in the course, and participants rated
themselves as quite creative (about “7” on a scale of 1 to 10) at
the outset of the study.
The current investigation compared participants’ problem
solving process to several popular models. The model with the
fewest stages was Adair’s (2010) three-pillared bridge. The first
pillar was “defining the problem”; the second pillar was “gen-
erating feasible options”; and the last pillar was “choosing the
optimum course/solution” (Adair, 2010: p. 53).
The participants in this study took a similar approach in us-
ing restrictions to better define the given loosely-defined prob-
lem, generating solutions through several activities, and then
choosing an optimal product that fit their restrictions. These
restrictions often included time, skill, and cost constraints. Re-
finement of several products took place as participants made
their second products, but inspiration sparked expansion of
products, new, yet related, products or entirely different prod-
ucts resulting from combinations of ideas. Imposing additional
criteria often led to unique, less strongly-connected second pro-
Participant reflections revealed personal implicit theories of
characteristics of creative products as original, visually appeal-
ing, complex, functional, well-crafted, and relevant. The two
creative product criteria recognized by Cropley (2000), but not
mentioned explicitly by study participants were understandabil-
ity and germinality. As mentioned previously, one product, the
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 603
Table 14.
Method of obtaining i de a f or product as reported by participants.
Product Frequency Method of Obtaining Idea or C onstraint Category
3 Challenged myself to make something entertaining—A toy Imposed criteria
3 I connected to something I saw an d made a similar product Strategy
3 Wanted to make somet hing really different Imposed criteria
2 I challenged myself to make it all from recycled mate ri als Imposed criteria
2 I looked around my house for materials and ideas Strategy
2 Reviewed the ideas I had gene rated earlie r and my list of constraints Strategy
2 Wanted to incorporate a particular technique Imposed criteria
1 Challenged myself to make something visually appealing Imposed criteria
1 Considered problems of others and how my product might solve them Strategy
1 I decided to m ake a decorative item Imposed criteria
1 Manipulated the pieces to gain ideas Strategy
1 The pieces played with light so I wanted to make a product using this aspect Imposed criteria
5 Desire to make a useful product Imposed criteria
3 Inspired by classmate’s product Strategy
3 Wanted to use a particular technique Imposed criteria
2 Modified original product to improve it Strategy
1 Decided to de pict a favorite a nimal Imposed criteria
1 Learne d a technique from other products Strategy
1 Manipulating the pieces helped me generate an idea Strategy
1 Saw something at home and adapted i t Strategy
1 Use SCAMPER Technique to gain ideas Strategy
Table 15.
Creativity in recent work and in general on a scale of 1 to 10 in which 1 is not creative and 10 is very creative.
Mean creativi t y rating
of initial ideas for
possible products
Mean general
creativity r eported at
the time of rating the
initial ideas
Mean creativi t y rating
of the first product
Mean general
creativity rating at the
time of first product
Mean creativi t y rating
of the second product
Mean general
creativity r eported at
the time of second
6.9 (1.6) 6.7 (1.3) 6.8 (1.5) 6.9 (0.8) 7.2 (1.8) 7.1 (1.2)
Note: Standard deviations given in parentheses.
candy suckers made from using the juice bottle bottoms as a
mold, introduced the conception of using the given materials to
manufacture the product rather than as an actual part of the
final product. This candy sucker product can therefore be con-
sidered as representing germinality. All products, once named,
were understandable. Perhaps participants did not mention this
aspect because it was assumed that the product needed to be
The authors hope that this journey into the problem solving
process will be useful for others as an in-depth example of how
different people approached the same loosely-defined problem.
All were successful in solving the problem in interesting,
unique ways. The large variety of products from different cate-
gories shows that participants were able to overcome functional
fixedness of the circular, dish-shaped given material to generate
items with many configurations and uses. Many useful insights
were generated as participants approached the problem a sec-
ond time and considered the inventions of classmates.
Suggestions for Future Research
In-depth problem solving studies such as the current study
might be implemented with younger participants such as ele-
mentary students to investigate differences and similarities in
the process. Two notable early childhood problem-solving
studies have been conducted: toddlers working with cylinders
and spheres (Geiken, 2011) and first graders working with
wooden block ramps and pathways for rolling marbles (Van
Meeteren, 2013). Few other early childhood studies have been
completed to investigate the invention process of younger chil-
An investigation of participants of multiple ages might reveal
developmental changes in approaches. This invention problem
solving project might be a good activity for residents of a retire-
ment community or a mental health facility. The creative prob-
lem solving process might facilitate social connections, usage
of prior knowledge and skills, and a sense of satisfaction in the
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
making of a creative product.
Implications for Classroom Practice
This article can be used as an example of the problem solv-
ing process. A teacher wanting to integrate problem solving
with a content area might provide similar given recycled items
to students and restrict the problem to one related to the content
being studied. For example, if a unit on African history is being
studied, students might make African musical instruments,
architectural models, costumes, jewelry, or masks. If the con-
tent area is science, students might make water or rock cycles,
atomic models, planetary mobiles, laboratory equipment, mod-
els of fossil life, or a diag ram of the parts of a flower. This pro-
ject might also serve as a model for adult groups creating holi-
day decorations for charity bazaars from recycled materials.
Even though the current project extended over a five-week
period, only about one hour per week was spent specifically
working in class on this project. The authors suggest that class
instructors implementing a similar product-making project al-
low more class time for reflection and discussion of ideas, par-
ticularly if the students are enrolled in K-12 schools rather than
being adults in a graduate course.
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