Allow for "Fuzzy" Outcomes

Encourage students to create "fuzzy" or "out of the box" solutions to problems.

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Too often, adults give students problems to solve with "correct" solutions already in their minds. By steering students to our perceived correct answer, we are preventing them from fully engaging in STEM problems and from creating truly innovative solutions. Give students open-ended problems, and allow students to take them in new directions, as long as they can justify how their solution has solved the problem.

Note: This contribution started as a sticky note posted by a participant at the San Francisco Teachers Guild event - I just ran with it!

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Students seem to have very little trouble finding problems to solve if we just ask them. We asked teams of 7th graders at my school to define a specific problem anywhere in the world, and work through the design thinking process to create solutions for their problems. Our 90+ students pitched their solutions last week, are currently working on specific designs, and will begin building them in November. Some problems are large and global, while some are local or even personal. While teachers are there to guide with respects to DT and ensuring that they are being realistic in their plans, the students have done the majority of the project so far on their own.
I guess my answer is - just ask your students!

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