Problem Solving Games

Tinkering is the process of using problem solving games to discover how something works or to solve a problem.

It is a powerful critical thinking skill. Tinkering is done by trial and error. It is born out of curiosity and nourished by discovery.

Tinkering is a powerful method because play is all about having fun! There are no goals, no deadlines, no budget constraints, no fear of being wrong—and no pressures. When you play you are at your most relaxed enjoyable state with an open mind.

At other times tinkering can lead to a significant discovery.

Tinkering can be with physical objects such as cars, radios, and computer hardware. Tinkering can also be with a computer program, a completely new dance step in Argentine Tango, or anything else that you can play with and gain knowledge.

The Hole in the Wall Project

Some years ago Dr. Sugata Mitra a computer scientist and head of research and development in New Delhi India had an idea. He wondered what would happen if poor children were allowed unlimited access to the internet.

Sugata launched what became known as the Hole in the wall project. He placed a high speed computer with Internet capability in the wall of a slum outside his office and waited to see what would happen.

There were no instructions and no teaching, just a computer hooked to the Internet. Trial and error were the only things available to the youngsters who came upon this strange device.

Curious children immediately gravitated to it. They quickly figured out how to point and click, and how to access the Internet and explore. They soon figured out the fundamentals of computer literacy.

Sugata duplicated his experiment several times in different locations. Each time, the children who tried out the computers became computer literate just by tinkering. His experiment verified and re-verified that problem solving games and curiosity are powerful critical thinking methods.#1

Hats off to Curiosity!

Curiosity is by far one of the most powerful critical thinking skills. Letting your curiosity guide you (within reason) can produce huge benefits in your life.

1 Toffler, Alvin and Heidi. Revolutionary Wealth—How it will be created and how it will change our lives. ( Toronto: Random House of Canada Limited 2006).

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