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 participants 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.
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