Creativity Lesson: A Whack on the Other Side

*This lesson coincides with a whack on the other side of the head, from A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech.


Suggested Books (paid link)


Lesson written by: Coco Graham and Pamela Shank

Grade range: 3-5

Supplies:  string, plastic bags, weighted objects, tape, scissors, Popsicle sticks, recording sheet, stop watch

Summary of Lesson:  Learners  explore  an idea to seek out a variety of different pieces of information regarding friction v. gravity.  The learners experiment with limited choices of materials asking “what if” questions.  The learners evaluate the effectiveness of their choices in solving the problem of friction v. gravity and make a decision on the effectiveness of their creation.  Learners develop a final invention to overcome previous obstacles and support previous successes.

4 Roles from Inspiration to Realization: importance of mental flexibility

Explorer – role for searching new information and resources

Artist – role for turning the resources into new ideas

Judge – role for evaluating the merits of an idea and deciding what to do with it

Warrior – role for carrying the idea into action

Step by step lesson instructions:

1. Introduce key vocabulary:  gravity, friction, air resistance

2. Introduce and review the 4 roles of the creative process.  Strong roles are important and the timing of each of the roles.  Pay attention to the type of thinking required for each situation and then shift strongly into that role.  Learners take on 4 roles to create a parachute: they will observe pictures of things being pulled to the earth by gravity with and without appropriate friction to slow down the process and not cause damage; they will search through provided materials to make a parachute that will work best; they will test their parachutes and evaluate the effectiveness of their creation; they will use what they have learned to adjust and reinvent a successful parachute.

3. Explorer:  Show images of gravity at work with no use of friction (air resistance)

4. Read objective and present challenge (who can create a parachute that falls the slowest while still moving)

5. Artist:  Direct to materials, each will create a parachute that will successfully slow the pull of gravity toward Earth so the weighted material is not damaged. 

6. Judge & Warrior:  Test the parachutes by having learner stand on a high object (playground equipment) and dropping (no force) the parachute to the ground.  Partner times the drop and records the data three times for each parachute.  The slowest parachute wins.

7. Partner discussion on why certain examples did slow the pull of gravity to the Earth through friction and why some did not.  Venn Diagram

8. Whole class Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting successes v. failures

9. Judge:  Reflection on what worked and what did not work and why.  Brainstorm on ideas to improve parachutes.

10. Warrior:  Take the new ideas and create a new and more efficient parachute.

11. Repeat steps 7 and 8.

Special Notes:  For large GATE clusters or higher grade introduce inertia as part of key vocabulary.  In classrooms, students work with a partner or group of three.  This could also be done individually, or each partnership create two parachutes to test their variable.

Assessment:  Use the rubrics for each role and ask the students to self-assess.  These rubrics can be used again in any project.



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