For student groups to work together in order to generate a lot of ideas quickly and learn that groups are often more generative than individuals.
Pairs (optional continuation with bigger groups)
What is it?
Students are given a paper clip and challenged to come up with as many different uses for it as they can think of. There are no correct solutions or even one best solution that the students are trying to find; rather, they are simply using their imaginations to generate as many possibilities as they can.
Why do we do it?
This is the part of the design process when students need to be generative. In order to discover really unique solutions, students must have the freedom to explore a range of possibilities. Coming up with new uses for a traditional object helps students look beyond traditional boundaries of form and function. Doing so in groups uncovers the power of collaboration.
How do we do it?
We hold a Brainstorming contest where students must try to come up with the most unique ideas.
Sample Lesson (30 min)
Materials: Paper, Pencil, Paper clipsGeneral Introduction: 4 Min
Give students a quick introduction to brainstorming and an overview of why it is important and how to approach (this can be taken from the notes above).Brainstorm One: 3 Min
As individuals, have each student write down as many uses for a paper clip as they can think of. Pass out a paper clip to each student for inspiration. They are free to manipulate it in any way.Compare Brainstorm One: 3 min
Have students pair up and compare the paper clip use ideas each came up with. Ask them to look over the ideas that their partner came up with focusing what ideas each person came up with as well as what ideas only one person came up with. Have each student choose the wildest idea from their partner's list.
Brainstorm Two (The contest): 7 min
Now in their pairs, students continue to brainstorm new ways to use a paper clip. The goal is for each pair to come up with as many ideas that no other pair thinks of. They don't have to repeat any of the earlier ideas they came up with individually, rather they supplement that list.Share out: 15 min
The first pair shares one of their ideas. Continue to rotate through all the pairs having each one share one idea. For each idea that gets said out loud, other pairs have to say whether or not they also have that idea. If any other pair has that idea ALL pairs have to scratch that off of their list. Each pair gets a point for an idea they have that no other team has. The team with the most points wins.Optional Variations
Use other objects besides paper clips.
Have a Third Round of Brainstorming where students form groups of 4.
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