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Abstract

Industry and authors of 21st Century Skill Frameworks are calling for student proficiency in creativity, problem-solving, innovation, collaboration, and communication skills. This project involved 13 fifth grade gifted students in inventing products for a specified audience with a set of given materials, time limit, and topic constraints. The complex, challenging project supports Next Generation Science Engineering Process Standard 3-5-ETS1-2 and applies concepts of plant and animal adaptations. The study had a counterbalanced, repeated measures design in which student made an initial invention during the pretest, then participated in two trials with one in the control condition and the other in the experimental condition. The experimental condition involved creative articulation strategies of considering the audience for the invention, effective communication of the ways the product meets audience needs, and peer collaboration and feedback to improve the product ideas. Students found the invention process initially very challenging, especially generating unique ideas. No statistically significant differences were found in product creativity or student attitudes, which were very positive, between the two conditions of the experiment, likely because of the small sample size. Analysis of student advertisements revealed a statistically significant difference favoring the experimental condition with a medium effect size for including reasons the product meets audience needs in the advertisement. Examples of student-made products and teacher analysis of selected products provide ideas for coaching students into higher creative skill levels. Additionally, statistically significant gains in creativity skill occurred from the pretest to the invention of the product during the first trial and this was maintained into the second trial with large effect size. This study showed that multiple invention opportunities allowed students to develop their skills better than a single activity. The challenging, complex activities helped students achieve a state of flow as they worked during the experiment and helped students develop their creativity.