Incubation and Creativity Across Development

Principal Investigator: Gerardo Ramirez

Creative-thinking skills play a central role in allowing students to escape conventional knowledge and make innovative contributions to society. Mathematical creativity refers to the ability to think flexibly about numerical relationships, to apply novel problem solving approaches, and to bridge remote ideas between mathematical concepts—all qualities of the most advanced mathematicians. We propose that educational contexts that strictly adhere to convention and reproduction at the cost of innovation, self-generation, and divergent thinking, stifles the potential of creative students. The goal of our proposed program of work is to investigate the educational contexts that encourage mathematical creativity and to examine how we can leverage the power of underlying unconscious thinking processes to better enhance the development of creative ability in mathematics. Lab school children will be given one math problem and asked to produce as many strategies as they can for 3 minutes. Some children will be given a break. Everyone will then tackle the same problem for an additional 3 minutes. Children will also complete some simple questionnaires examining attitudes around math. We hope to recruit a sample of 1st,2nd and 4th or 5th grade children. The math task children are asked to solve will serve as a measure of flexible math thinking.