Technology Made Simple
6 YouTube channels for developing your problem solving skills [Technique Tuesdays]
Discover more from Technology Made Simple
These were the channels that help me study and sharpen my problem solving skills.
Hey, it’s your favorite cult leader here 🐱👤
On Tuesdays, I will cover problem-solving techniques that show up in software engineering, computer science, and Leetcode Style Questions📚📚📝📝.
To get access to all the full articles and support my writing, consider subscribing if you haven’t already!
p.s. you can learn more about the benefits of the paid plan here .
How can you improve your problem-solving skills?
There are many steps needed. You need to study the underlying concepts. You need to recognize the various techniques and when they are applied. And you need to do practice problems. When you start practice problems, you need to balance both the quality (difficulty of each problem) and the quantity of problems you solve
Sounds a like a bit much doesn’t it?
Luckily, there is a way to make things much easier. Watch experts solve the problem, and see how they progress between steps. Learning from the best can boost your learning journey. In this email/post, I will be covering some of the YouTube channels that I use regularly to sharpen my problem-solving skills. The most important tip is at the very end of the list, so make you sure you read all the way through
Great Channels you should Subscribe to
Byte by Bte- When it comes to Leetcode-related videos, Sam is one of the best in the game. He’s got a gift for describing complicated topics simply and he posts streams where he solves Leetcode problems live. Watching people problem solve live is great because you can compare their process to yours, and thus identify how you can do much better. Watch his most recent episode here . His switch from top-down to bottom-up DP was spectacular.
Back to Back SWE - A great channel to mix techniques and conceptual computer science. His template to solving backtracking problems was very useful , and I actually based my recursive function template on it.
Abdul Bari - Focuses more on the concepts, but his way of presenting information is great to help you apply the ideas he teaches in your own solutions. A must watch, especially if you are a college student.
Ryan Schachte - The best Computer Science visualizations. His videos are useful, visual, and comprehensible. Would highly recommend that you watch his video on the Sliding Window Algorithm and take a lot of notes. I will be covering it on this channel as well.
MindYourDecisions - Presh Talwalkar studied Math and Economics at Stanford. He posts math problems, brainteasers, interview questions, logic puzzles, viral math problems, and interesting topics suggested by viewers from around the world. Most of his videos don’t require advanced math knowledge but do require very advanced problem-solving skills. You’ll see him use a lot of the techniques I cover here (remember Math and Software Engineering require very similar neural pathways).
TED-Ed - The TED foundation needs no introduction. They have done a great service in educating humanity. Their Educational Channel, TED-Ed, has an exceptional collection of riddles, that you can solve here . These riddles work your problem-solving skills without requiring prior knowledge. Working those riddles is a great way to boost your education.
As you practice these problems, don’t forget to also get out there and move. Hard. Scientists have studied multiple things to maintain and boost brain function. These include food, sudokus, chess, meditation etc. Exercise has consistently been the strongest and most reliable method for maintaining and sharpening your brain function. If you haven’t today, put your screen down, get out there, and train.
Still not convinced? Watch the talk below for more.
That is it for this piece. I appreciate your time. As always, if you’re interested in reaching out to me or checking out my other work, links will be at the end of this email/post. If you like my writing, I would really appreciate an anonymous testimonial. You can drop it here. And if you found value in this write-up, I would appreciate you sharing it with more people.
For those of you interested in taking your skills to the next level, keep reading. I have something that you will love.
Upgrade your tech career with a premium subscription ‘Tech Made Simple’! Stay ahead of the curve in AI, software engineering, and tech industry with expert insights, tips, and resources. 20% off for new subscribers by clicking this link. Subscribe now and simplify your tech journey!
Reach out to me
Use the links below to check out my other content, learn more about tutoring, reach out to me about projects, or just to say hi.
If you like my writing, I would really appreciate an anonymous testimonial. You can drop it here.
To help me understand you fill out this survey (anonymous)
Check out my other articles on Medium. : https://rb.gy/zn1aiu
My YouTube: https://rb.gy/88iwdd
Reach out to me on LinkedIn. Let’s connect: https://rb.gy/m5ok2y
My Instagram: https://rb.gy/gmvuy9
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/Machine01776819
Ready for more?
31 Best Wordless Videos to Teach Problem Solving
Wordless videos are a fun and entertaining way to get your students learning and talking. Using wordless videos to teach problem-solving is a great way to keep your students stay engaged all while working on their goals.
Who Could Benefit From Wordless Videos?
Students who struggle to solve social problems can benefit from first practicing problem-solving someone else’s problems in a wordless animation, for example, prior to having to solve the social problems in their own lives. It’s easier to identify problems in someone else’s life than it is in your own life.
Ways in Which to Use Voiceless Videos
- Answering wh-questions: Have your students watch the animated short film and then ask them wh-questions.
- Retell a story/sequencing: After watching the films have your students retell or sequence the short film.
- Solving hypothetical problems: Use the following wordless videos to teach problem-solving. Stop the video throughout and have your students identify the problem and a possible solution to the problem. Then you can move on to practice solving problems in real life .
- Predictions/inferences: Stop the video throughout and have your students make predictions and inferences about what might happen next in the film.
Don’t Forget to Grab your Freebie!
Be sure to grab the freebie that goes along with this bundle of wordless videos. The freebie comes with:
- A set of wh-questions
- Story retell with predictions
There are 31 sets of the following worksheets.
Before you begin…
- I have watched all of these short animations to make sure they are appropriate. However, please preview the entire video prior to showing your students as you know best what is appropriate for your level of comfort and for your individual students.
- Almost all of these videos show ads prior to the start of the animation short. I suggest cueing up the video prior to showing the video to your students as some ads may not be appropriate.
31 Wordless Videos to Teach Problem Solving
1. t he small shoemaker: 5:32 minutes.
This short is about Mr. Botte’s shoemaker’s shop, and the passionate and skillful shoemaker’s daily life is about to be disturbed as another shoemaker creates a street vendor stall just in front of Mr. Botte’s store!
2. The Sweet Cocoon: 5:57 minutes
End video by 4:55. Please preview the end of this video prior to showing it to your students. I have decided to end this video by 4:55 minutes to avoid the sad ending for some of my students.
This animation is about two insects that decide to help a struggling caterpillar in her metamorphosis process!
3. The Wishgranter: 4:48 minutes
This short film is about a world where wishes are granted by mythical beings that live under fountains. The wish granter is forced to go above ground in order to grant a wish of love.
4. Dustin: 7:45 minutes
This super cute animation is about a pug learning to have a new roommate of an automatic cleaning robot.
5. Rollin’ Safari: 2:01 minutes
Enjoy this fun short film about what the world would be like if animals were round.
6. Piper: 3:20 minutes
Watch a hungry sandpiper hatchling as she ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline. However, the only problem is that the food is buried under the sand where scary waves roll up onto the shore.
7. Hola Llamingo: 3:52 minutes
Enjoy this film about the beautiful, fleeting friendship between a boy and his pinata which comes to life.
8. Soar: 6:14 minutes
This short film called Soar is about a young girl who must help a tiny boy pilot fly home before it’s too late.
9. Brush A Fox Tale: 3:37 minutes
A young fox who enjoys painting has a crush on his neighbor. When he tries to hide it his other paintings come to life to try to convince him otherwise.
10. Fishing with Sam: 5:53 minutes
A pesky little penguin keeps stealing all the fish from a bear, a seal, and two other penguins, but they disguise a plan to take care of that pesky little penguin.
11. The Box: 7:01 minutes
This animation is about an old man who finds a mouse in his house. He ends up taming the mouse he first wanted to get rid of.
12. Coin Operated: 5:14 minutes
Watch this short film about the life of a young man that spans over 70 years in the life of one naive explorer.
13. Partly Cloudy: 5:49 minutes
Enjoy this super cute film. Everyone knows that it is a stork that delivers babies, but where do the storks get the babies from? The answer comes from the clouds, where cloud people sculpt babies from clouds and bring them to life.
14. Lifted: 5:03 minutes
A cute animation about a young alien who is in training to capture a human but gets overwhelmed with all the switches.
15. Ormie The Pig: 3:52 minutes
This fun short is about a pig named Ormie. Ormie wants a cookie. But they are out of reach…or are they? See Ormie’s attempts to gain the warm sweet taste that is his obsession.
16. Embarked: 4:24 minutes
Watch this super cute short about a treehouse who follows his family even after the young boy moves away.
17. SpellBound: 3:06 minutes
A young girl who is jealous of her sister must save her after writing negative thoughts that unexpectedly transform into monsters.
18. The Birds: 3:25 minutes
An animated short about a group of small birds that make fun of a larger funny-looking bird, but when they try and get rid of the larger funny-looking bird their plan backfires and the large bird is soon laughing at his bullies.
19. A Fox and A Mouse: 6:23 minutes
Enjoy this sweet animation as a lonely fox hunts a mouse – and their relationship evolves as two owls begin to get in the middle of the fox’s hunt!
20. Pigeon Impossible: 6:15 minutes
A newbie secret agent is faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a pigeon gets trapped inside your multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase.
21. The Children’s Tree: 1:58 minutes
This short film is about an imaginative little girl, a good-hearted old tree, and a helpful butterfly.
22. Hey Deer: 6:15 minutes
This fun short film is about an adorable, cocoa-drinking deer who is eager to tidy and shovel show in front of his house every day. However, there is a suspicious earthquake every night which causes the mess day by day. Between two cups of cocoa, the amazing truth reveals itself which changes the deer’s life forever…
23. Catch It: 5:25 minutes
A group of meerkats takes care of their beloved and unique fruit but a twist happens when a vulture comes and disturbs their peace of mind.
24. Mouse for Sale: 4:16 minutes
This short is about a lonely mouse in a pet shop, craving to be bought by someone. But he’s got one big problem: his huge ears. The kids entering the store keep laughing at him. Will Snickers find the buddy he so desires, someone who will take him for who he is?
25. One Man Band: 4:02 minutes
Watch this super cute short about a young peasant girl with one coin left when she encounters two competing street performers who’d prefer the coin find its way into their tip jars. The little girl is caught in the middle as a musical duel ensues between the one-man-bands.
26. Dust Buddies: 4:05 minutes
A story about the friendship between two dust bunnies who live peacefully under a couch. When an evil maid comes to clean the house and sucks Fuzz into her vacuum, Lint must overcome his fears and set out to rescue his friend.
27. The Stubborn Donkey: 4:25 minutes
The short film is all about a stubborn donkey who is difficult to move but a bit of greek music just could do the trick.
28. The Egyptian Pyramids: 3:36 minutes
This cute animation is about an archaeologist who is about to discover the secret of the Egyptian Pyramids.
29. Minuscule: 5:09 minutes
The short film revolves around the day-to-day existence of slugs and how a caterpillar tries to blend into the family.
30. Jinky Jenkins and Lucky Lou: 3:52 minutes
When the misfortunate Jenkins and the Lucky Lou run into each other one morning, they find a thrilling and fulfilling change of pace as they hurtle down the hills of San Francisco in an ice cream cart.
31. Can I Stay: 3:48 minutes
This sweet short animation is about an apprehensive homeless girl who must traverse a dangerous, wintry city in order to escape her adorable pursuers.
Get me my Problem Solving Wordless Videos Freebie!
Problem Solving Restorative Justice Graphic Visual :
Use this Flip Book Graphic Visual to help your students solve their conflicts with others and to make things right.
- 1. Identify the Problem: Fill out the scenario by writing down what happened and drawing what happened.
- 2. Have your Student Identify their Feelings: Draw their emotions and write down their thoughts in the thought bubble.
- 3. Have the other Student Involved Identify their Feelings: Draw the other person’s emotions and write down the other person’s thoughts in the thought bubble.
- 4. Make Things Right: Identify how to make things better.
- 5. My Notes: Fill in any additional information you might find helpful to know or remember.
Get your students talking and problem-solving using these super cute wordless animation videos to teach them problem-solving skills. Also, you can use these short videos to teach story retell, sequencing, answering wh-questions, or inferences/predictions. Are your students ready to start solving real-life problems? Be sure to grab the 71+ problem-solving scenarios freebie to get additional problem-solving practice!
Tuesday 7th of February 2023
I have used this resource numerous times. This is amazing! I appreciate you taking the time to create this and for making it free. My students love them. you visuals and graphics are on point. Will you be making more. I would pay for it as I find it worth it and very useful. Some of the other Wordless Video I have seen that I like include: The Present, Snack Attack, Carrot Crazy, and The Bridge. There are others...Please let us know! Thanks again!
Wednesday 8th of February 2023
Hi Judith, Thanks so much for reaching out! I'm happy to know you like this resource. I currently don't have another set in the works, but since it is a fan favorite I can definitely add it to my list of ideas for the future. Thanks for the suggestion and additional videos to look into. All my best, Melissa
Monday 7th of November 2022
This is great for my high-functioning autism students!
The Best Handout for Phonological Processing Disorder Therapy - Speech Therapy Store
Monday 11th of May 2020
[…] 31 BEST WORDLESS VIDEOS TO TEACH PROBLEM SOLVING […]
430+ Free Multisyllabic Words List Activity Bundle - Speech Therapy Store
Saturday 2nd of May 2020
108 Free Speech Therapy Wh Questions Printable - Speech Therapy Store
Friday 1st of May 2020
- View Experiences
Problem Solving Games, Activities & Exercises for Adults
Here is our list of the best problem solving games, activities and exercises for adults.
Problem solving games are activities that require players to use critical thinking skills to solve puzzles. Example activities include escape rooms, Sudoku, and murder mysteries. The purpose of these exercises is to sharpen reasoning and decision-making skills in group settings and to do team building with employees.
These activities are a subset of remote team games , found in problem solving books , and are similar to team puzzles , team building brain teasers and team riddles .
This article contains:
- team building problem solving activities for employees
- free problem solving games for adults
- virtual problem solving activities for students
- group problem solving activities
- problem solving team builders
Here we go!
List of problem solving games & activities
From word and number puzzles to role-playing games, here is a list of inexpensive and free problem solving team builders that help groups practice the art of critical thinking and compromise.
1. Espionage! (Team Favorite)
For an exciting game of social deduction, check out Espionage! This thrilling experience will put your team’s wits and instincts to the test.
Espionage! offers the following:
- a 90-minute session led by an experienced host
- undercover teams of agents and spies
- challenging puzzles, tasks, and maneuvers
- team conversations to help uncover secret identities
The best part is we will bring all the necessary game materials to your preferred location. If you are interested in boosting communication and critical-thinking skills within your team, then consider Espionage!
Learn more about Espionage!
2. Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh (Hosted)
You can turn your team into skilled detectives with Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh! In this captivating mystery, participants will locate the stolen artwork, The Bedroom .
Key features of this experience include:
- a 90-minute adventure led by a world-class host
- detailed puzzles, clues, and mysteries to unravel
- trails of evidence and hidden secrets
- group discussions to find the art
Additionally, you can include a cocktail kit to spice up your event. Through Art Heist, you will enhance your team’s ingenuity and problem-solving skills!
Learn more about Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh .
Want our best tips for building happier teams?
Enter your email to get started.
3. War of the Wizards (Popular)
With War of the Wizards, teams roleplay as minions of powerful wizards to vanquish forces of evil. Participants will play thrilling games and go on a quest to restore harmony to the realm!
War of the Wizards offers the following:
- a 90-minute journey guided by a distinguished host
- immersive storytelling that transports players into a magical realm
- engaging activities like world-building, role-playing games, and storytelling
- opportunities for forming alliances, facing challenges, and going on quests
Through the power of imagination and teamwork, your team can overcome tasks and participate in an epic fantasy battle. To improve communication and bonds, include War of the Wizards in your agenda!
Learn more about War of the Wizards .
Sudoku is one of the most popular free problem solving games for adults. The objective of this game is to fill each box of a 9×9 grid so that every row, column, and letter contains each number from one to nine. The puzzle makes a great team challenge. To play Sudoku on Zoom, screen share the game board. Then, turn on the annotation features. Using the add text functions, participants can fill in the numbers on the grid.
We made a starter puzzle you can use in your next meeting or virtual team bonding session:
Here are more online Sudoku puzzles .
5. Crossword puzzles
Crossword puzzles are word games that ask players to fill in words based on clues. Words interconnect, and players must think critically about the surrounding words to select the right phrase for the space.
You can use an online crossword puzzle maker to create a custom puzzle. Here are a few themes you may want to consider:
- teammates’ tastes and interests
- company knowledge and history
- industry terms and trends
Or, create a miscellaneous puzzle just for fun.
We made a sample puzzle you can use for your game:
To complete puzzles during online meetings, you can use the share screen function and add text through annotations.
Or, subscribers can play the New York Times’ daily crossword puzzle virtually . Dictionary.com also offers a free daily online crossword puzzle .
Check out more vocabulary games .
6. Online Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are timed games that get groups working together to solve puzzles. Traditionally, players enter a locked room and must complete all puzzles in an hour or two to unlock the door. However, groups can also play escape rooms online.
Digital escape rooms typically come in one of two forms: in a Zoom room and led by a host, or in a choose-your-own adventure format via Google Forms or websites. To play escape rooms virtually, enter a video meeting and follow the prompts, or screen share the Google Form and work out the puzzles together.
Check out our full list of online escape rooms .
7. Murder Mysteries
Murder Mysteries are story-based games that ask players to take on the roles of suspects or detectives while trying to identify a killer. These games often involve reading lines from a script, searching for clues, and occasionally solving puzzles to get hints.
These games make participants pay attention to conversations, analyze other characters’ behavior, and search for hidden meaning in the script. Players must use their powers of observation and logic to unravel the mystery.
Check out our list of Zoom murder mystery games .
8. Treasure Hunts
Treasure hunts are scavenger hunts with intention. While virtual scavenger hunts often ask players to collect random items, treasure hunts require participants to locate clues that lead to other prompts and hints. The game typically ends with players finding a treasure or solving a mystery, sometimes both.
The treasure hunt can have a specific theme such as secret agent missions or a hunt for pirate treasure, or you can run a more general hunt. Teammates can either compete simultaneously via Zoom call, or can play the hunt on an app individually and compete to beat each other’s scores.
Check out our list of treasure hunt apps .
9. Poem or story challenge
Most team building problem solving activities for employees revolve around science, math, and logic. Poem/story challenges rely on writing skills and are sure to appeal to the language lovers on your team.
Each player receives a limited word bank to use to create a story or poem. Then, players have a few minutes to craft their pieces. Afterward, everyone reads out or screen shares their creations.
Here are a few word challenge activities you can do remotely:
- Found poems or stories : Participants make poems or stories out of words they find by visiting websites, searching emails, glancing out the window, or taking a walk or drive around the neighborhood.
- Random word generators : Teammates use a random word generator to populate a word bank, and must use each word in the poem or story.
- Poetry magnets : Group members make poems using poetry magnets. You can send poetry magnet sets to employees and assemble the verses on a cookie pan during a Zoom call. Or, teammates can play with poetry magnets online .
- Page poems: Participants receive one page of a book or magazine, and must make a poem or story by blocking out other words so only the chosen text remains visible. This activity is part storytelling, part art, since story crafters can illustrate the pages as part of the design.
- Ransom note stories or poems : Players cut out letters from magazines and must form new words to make poems and stories. Or, players can receive a mix of random letters, form words, and run the text through a ransom note generator .
These activities are suitable for teams and individual players.
10. Moral challenge
Some problems are ethical rather than factual. Moral judgment plays just as important a role in the decision-making process as technical prowess. Players can flex their moral problem-solving skills by tackling ethical dilemmas or social puzzles.
Here are some social problem solving games online:
- Moral machine
- Scruples – the game of moral dilemmas
- Morality play
To play these games, either download the apps, or pull up the website and then screen share the prompts. These games are best played when discussed as a group, because the more belief systems and opinions, the harder an issue is to resolve. These exercises provide practice for real-life conflict resolution.
You can find similar challenges on our list of online personality tests .
Frostbite is a group game that hones team leaders’ communication skills while sharpening teammates’ listening and cooperation skills. The premise behind the game is that a group of explorers gets caught in a snowstorm and must build a shelter. Frostbite has paralyzed the leaders’ hands and snow-blinded the rest of the team. The leader must give the team instructions to build a tent that can resist arctic winds.
To play Frostbite, each teammate wears a blindfold. Then, the leader gives directions. Once the structures are complete, players turn on a fan to test whether tents can withstand the wind.
Frostbite is usually an in-person game, however you can also play virtually. In the remote version of the game, teammates construct tents out of cards and tape, while the leader surveys the scene on screen.
This exercise demonstrates the challenges of leading remotely, as teams need to operate with minimal oversight or supervisor observation. Therefore, instructions need to be clear and direct to be effective.
Check out more team building games .
12. Virtual Hackathons
Hackathons are events where participants have a set amount of time to design and pitch a new product or solution. This type of event originated in the programming world and is often used to create new apps, however you can apply the game to any industry or school subject.
Virtual hackathons are online versions of the event. Teams enter the competition, then work with each other via virtual meeting software or remote work communication platforms to design the solution. At the end of the competition, teams pitch ideas to a panel of judges and a winner is decided.
To run a virtual hackathon, first announce the theme of the event and collect sign-ups. So that no teams work ahead, hint at the general idea of the issue, and only explain the precise problem when the event begins. Then, give teams anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete the project.
Discover more virtual hackathon ideas .
13. Improv games
Improv games are excellent problem solving activities. These exercises force participants to think and respond quickly to keep scenes moving in a logical and entertaining way.
Here are some good problem solving improv games:
Banned words : Performers cannot say certain words. Scene partners will conceive of situations that encourage the actors to use those words, and the actors must find alternatives, such as using synonyms or taking the scene in a new direction.
Scenes from a chat : Audience gives a suggestion for a scene, and players act the scene out. Though it’s a fictional and often ridiculous scenario, actors must react to the situation and solve the problem in order for the scene to end.
Miracle cure : Miracle cure is a quick-moving exercise that follows a simple format. One player declares, “I have a problem.” Another player responds, “I have a….[random object.]” The first player then replies, “great! I can use the [random object] to….” and describes how they will solve the problem.
Check out more problem-solving improv games .
14. Spaghetti Tower
The spaghetti tower is a classic team building game. Participants gather uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows, and must construct the tallest freestanding tower.
During the in-person version, players must construct one tall freestanding tower. However, for the virtual version of the game, players construct individual towers. You can send groups to breakout rooms for the build, then reconvene in the main room for judging. Teams are judged on three main factors: number of towers, height, and uniformity.
This version of the game not only tests the structural integrity of the tower, but also consistency and quality control. This exercise teaches teams to align and collaborate remotely, and produce a consistent product even when far apart.
15. What Would You Do?
What Would You Do? is a simple situational game that challenges participants to react to different circumstances. To play this game, read prompts one by one, and then ask participants to respond with gameplans. You can use the polling or raise hand feature to vote for the best option.
Here are some problem solving scenarios for adults or kids to use in the game:
- Zombies attack and you have to find a place to hide.
- You are at the zoo and the animals escape. Which one do you try to corral back into the pen first?
- After waiting in line for hours, someone cuts in front of you last minute. The person appears to be visually and hearing impaired, and doesn’t notice your protests. An official announces that due to diminishing supply, this individual will be the last in line to be served.
- You are eating a meal with important clients and/or your partner’s parents, and you want to impress. The individuals make you a dish that does not fit within your dietary restrictions, but you do not speak the same language and cannot explain why you do not want to eat.
- An imposter has infiltrated the organization, who looks, speaks, and behaves exactly like you. How do you convince your peers that you are the original?
For similar dilemmas, check out this list of Would You Rather? questions.
16. Desert Island Survival
Desert Island Survival is a game that challenges players to prioritize. The premise is that players have been stranded on an island, and must decide what order to perform survival steps.
Here are the possible actions:
- Set up shelter
- Explore the island
- Try to signal for help
- Make weapons for self-defense
- Build a raft to escape the island
- Start a fire
- Choose a group leader
- Search for other survivors
All group members must agree on the order of the steps. Players should explain the reasoning for the order of each step while ranking the actions.
Another version of the game involves players receiving a list of 15 to 20 items, and selecting five or so to bring to the island. You can also vary the location of the game, substituting remote islands for destinations like outer space or the distant past.
17. Choose Your Own Adventure
Choose Your Own Adventure stories enable readers to determine the outcome of the story by making decisions. Each action has a consequence that takes the tale in a different direction. Participants can try to guess how the story may unfold by talking through the different choices. When completing the activity in a group setting, the majority of the team must agree on an action before moving forward in the story.
There are a few ways to facilitate these activities online:
- Play an online role playing video game
- Watch an interactive movie like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
- Read from a Choose Your Own Adventure book on Zoom
- Click through a Choose Your Own Adventure platform
- Create your own story using a Google Form
Whichever way you choose to do the exercise, you can use the screen share feature in your virtual meeting software so that listeners can more easily follow along.
MacGyver is a show where the hero escapes sticky situations by improvising tools out of unlikely materials. For example, in one episode the hero makes a telescope out of a newspaper, magnifying lens, and a watch crystal.
To play MacGyver, you can either list three to five objects participants can use, or challenge players to use items that are within arms reach.
Simply state a desired end result, such as “a way to open a locked door,” or “a getaway vehicle,” and then ask teams to explain what they will build and how they will build it. To make the activity more collaborative, you can give teams five or ten minutes in breakout rooms to strategize and design a prototype.
19. Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons is a roleplaying game where players pretend to be magical figures and creatures. One player serves as the dungeon master, who guides the game, while the other players pick characters and make decisions to move the story forward. Upon choosing a course of action, players roll a twenty-sided die to determine whether or not the plan succeeds. The game is story-based, the possibilities are nearly limitless, and truly creative problem solving options arise. Also, since gameplay is mostly verbal, Dungeons & Dragons is an easy activity to do over Zoom.
Here are the basic rules for Dungeons & Dragons .
Pandemic is a game that pits players against the forces of nature in a race to contain and control disease outbreaks. At the beginning of the game, each player receives a role such as containment specialist or operations expert. Participants must carry out the duties of their roles by choosing appropriate actions. Pandemic is a great game for groups because each team member has a clear part to play, and players must collaborate and work together instead of competing against each other.
To play the game online, you can use a Pandemic game app , or talk through the exercise while one attendee moves and displays pieces on the board.
Note: The subject of this game might hit too close to home for some players, considering recent history. You can find games with similar mechanics that deal with different subject matter, such as Forbidden Island.
Check out more team building board games .
21. Model UN
Model UN is one of the best virtual problem solving activities for students. This exercise casts participants in the role of international diplomats who must negotiate to solve realistic problems. Each player assumes the role of a country ambassador and must form alliances and propose solutions to solve crises.
Here are some sample Model UN scenarios:
- Human rights violation by powerful country
- Food shortage
- Disease epidemic
- Technology privacy violations
- Civil war branching into surrounding countries
- Natural disasters
Depending on the size of the group, participants either take on the part of an entire government of a country, or play a certain role within the government. To carry out the activity on Zoom, players can take turns giving speeches, message other countries privately via the chat, meet in breakout rooms to form alliances or have more intimate discussions, and use the polling feature to vote on propositions.
If politics does not resonate with your group, then you can alter the exercise by applying the same activity structure to a different theme, such as the Justice League, movie characters, business board members, or reality TV stars.
The main purpose of the exercise is to research, talk through problems, and compromise. As long as these elements are present, then the specifics of the setup do not matter.
There are many types of problem solving activities for adults. You can do online problem solving games, which require a different skill set than in-person problem solving. For instance, communication must be much clearer and more abundant when group members are far apart and unable to demonstrate or pick up physical cues.
Though many problem solving games include props and in-person elements, there are many games you can play together online. These exercises work well as educational tools as well as team bonding accelerators. Upon completion, participants are likely to feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence. These games are also great practice for real life conflict resolution, creative thinking and team building.
Next check out this list of connection games , and this post with conflict resolution games .
We also have a list of the best decision making books and a list of team building problems for work .
FAQ: Problem solving activities
Here are common answers to questions about group problem solving activities.
What are problem solving games?
Problem solving games are challenges that ask players to think critically and use logic to overcome issues or answer riddles. Examples include sudoku, murder mysteries, and spaghetti towers. These games are also known as “problem solving exercises”, “problem and solution games” and “group problem solving activities.”
What are the best problem solving games for groups?
The best problem solving games for groups include online escape rooms, moral challenges, and improv games.
What are some good problem solving team building activities for students?
Some good problem solving activities for students include crossword puzzles, choose your own adventure stories, and model UN.
How do you play problem solving games online?
The best way to play problem solving games online is to join a video call meeting to talk through the issue. Using the screen sharing and digital whiteboard features helps participants visualize the problem more clearly. Breakout rooms give teams the chance to discuss the issue more intimately.
Author: Angela Robinson
Marketing Coordinator at teambuilding.com. Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Kids Mental Health
- Therapy Center
- When To See a Therapist
- Types of Therapy
- Best Online Therapy
- Best Couples Therapy
- Best Family Therapy
- Managing Stress
- Sleep and Dreaming
- Understanding Emotions
- Healthy Relationships
- Relationships in 2023
- Student Resources
- Personality Types
- Verywell Mind Insights
- 2023 Verywell Mind 25
- Mental Health in the Classroom
- Editorial Process
- Meet Our Review Board
- Crisis Support
Overview of the Problem-Solving Mental Process
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.
- Identify the Problem
- Define the Problem
- Form a Strategy
- Organize Information
- Allocate Resources
- Monitor Progress
- Evaluate the Results
Frequently Asked Questions
Problem-solving is a mental process that involves discovering, analyzing, and solving problems. The ultimate goal of problem-solving is to overcome obstacles and find a solution that best resolves the issue.
The best strategy for solving a problem depends largely on the unique situation. In some cases, people are better off learning everything they can about the issue and then using factual knowledge to come up with a solution. In other instances, creativity and insight are the best options.
It is not necessary to follow problem-solving steps sequentially, It is common to skip steps or even go back through steps multiple times until the desired solution is reached.
In order to correctly solve a problem, it is often important to follow a series of steps. Researchers sometimes refer to this as the problem-solving cycle. While this cycle is portrayed sequentially, people rarely follow a rigid series of steps to find a solution.
The following steps include developing strategies and organizing knowledge.
1. Identifying the Problem
While it may seem like an obvious step, identifying the problem is not always as simple as it sounds. In some cases, people might mistakenly identify the wrong source of a problem, which will make attempts to solve it inefficient or even useless.
Some strategies that you might use to figure out the source of a problem include :
- Asking questions about the problem
- Breaking the problem down into smaller pieces
- Looking at the problem from different perspectives
- Conducting research to figure out what relationships exist between different variables
2. Defining the Problem
After the problem has been identified, it is important to fully define the problem so that it can be solved. You can define a problem by operationally defining each aspect of the problem and setting goals for what aspects of the problem you will address
At this point, you should focus on figuring out which aspects of the problems are facts and which are opinions. State the problem clearly and identify the scope of the solution.
3. Forming a Strategy
After the problem has been identified, it is time to start brainstorming potential solutions. This step usually involves generating as many ideas as possible without judging their quality. Once several possibilities have been generated, they can be evaluated and narrowed down.
The next step is to develop a strategy to solve the problem. The approach used will vary depending upon the situation and the individual's unique preferences. Common problem-solving strategies include heuristics and algorithms.
- Heuristics are mental shortcuts that are often based on solutions that have worked in the past. They can work well if the problem is similar to something you have encountered before and are often the best choice if you need a fast solution.
- Algorithms are step-by-step strategies that are guaranteed to produce a correct result. While this approach is great for accuracy, it can also consume time and resources.
Heuristics are often best used when time is of the essence, while algorithms are a better choice when a decision needs to be as accurate as possible.
4. Organizing Information
Before coming up with a solution, you need to first organize the available information. What do you know about the problem? What do you not know? The more information that is available the better prepared you will be to come up with an accurate solution.
When approaching a problem, it is important to make sure that you have all the data you need. Making a decision without adequate information can lead to biased or inaccurate results.
5. Allocating Resources
Of course, we don't always have unlimited money, time, and other resources to solve a problem. Before you begin to solve a problem, you need to determine how high priority it is.
If it is an important problem, it is probably worth allocating more resources to solving it. If, however, it is a fairly unimportant problem, then you do not want to spend too much of your available resources on coming up with a solution.
At this stage, it is important to consider all of the factors that might affect the problem at hand. This includes looking at the available resources, deadlines that need to be met, and any possible risks involved in each solution. After careful evaluation, a decision can be made about which solution to pursue.
6. Monitoring Progress
After selecting a problem-solving strategy, it is time to put the plan into action and see if it works. This step might involve trying out different solutions to see which one is the most effective.
It is also important to monitor the situation after implementing a solution to ensure that the problem has been solved and that no new problems have arisen as a result of the proposed solution.
Effective problem-solvers tend to monitor their progress as they work towards a solution. If they are not making good progress toward reaching their goal, they will reevaluate their approach or look for new strategies .
7. Evaluating the Results
After a solution has been reached, it is important to evaluate the results to determine if it is the best possible solution to the problem. This evaluation might be immediate, such as checking the results of a math problem to ensure the answer is correct, or it can be delayed, such as evaluating the success of a therapy program after several months of treatment.
Once a problem has been solved, it is important to take some time to reflect on the process that was used and evaluate the results. This will help you to improve your problem-solving skills and become more efficient at solving future problems.
A Word From Verywell
It is important to remember that there are many different problem-solving processes with different steps, and this is just one example. Problem-solving in real-world situations requires a great deal of resourcefulness, flexibility, resilience, and continuous interaction with the environment.
Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast
Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how you can stop dwelling in a negative mindset.
Follow Now : Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts
You can become a better problem solving by:
- Practicing brainstorming and coming up with multiple potential solutions to problems
- Being open-minded and considering all possible options before making a decision
- Breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable pieces
- Asking for help when needed
- Researching different problem-solving techniques and trying out new ones
- Learning from mistakes and using them as opportunities to grow
It's important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about what's going on. Try to see things from their perspective as well as your own. Work together to find a resolution that works for both of you. Be willing to compromise and accept that there may not be a perfect solution.
Take breaks if things are getting too heated, and come back to the problem when you feel calm and collected. Don't try to fix every problem on your own—consider asking a therapist or counselor for help and insight.
If you've tried everything and there doesn't seem to be a way to fix the problem, you may have to learn to accept it. This can be difficult, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your life and remember that every situation is temporary. Don't dwell on what's going wrong—instead, think about what's going right. Find support by talking to friends or family. Seek professional help if you're having trouble coping.
Davidson JE, Sternberg RJ, editors. The Psychology of Problem Solving . Cambridge University Press; 2003. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511615771
Sarathy V. Real world problem-solving . Front Hum Neurosci . 2018;12:261. Published 2018 Jun 26. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00261
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
A Blog About Parenting: Coping Skills, Behavior Management and Special Needs
25 Fun Problem Solving Activities for Kids
Problem-solving activities for kids : Explore 24 fun problem-solving games and activities, and learn effective tips and strategies to teach kids problem-solving skills. If you want to explore problem-solving strategies more in-depth, you can also grab our workbook “ Problem-Solving for Kids ” (printable resource).
Problem-solving is the cognitive process of finding solutions to challenges or complex situations.
A systematic approach to problem-solving tends to include defining the problem, gathering information and data, generating potential solutions, evaluating the pros and cons of each solution, making a decision, and implementing the chosen solution.
Effective problem-solving often requires critical thinking, a good dose of creativity, and the ability to consider multiple perspectives. It may also involve identifying patterns, breaking down a problem into manageable chunks, and applying our logic to develop solutions.
Problem-solving is present in everyday situations and across all fields: business, science, personal life, and education. There is not one single aspect in our lives where we don’t need to apply our problem-solving skills.
Table of Contents
- Problem-solving steps
- Development of problem-solving in childhood
- Benefits of developing problem-solving skills
- 10 Tips to teach kids problem-solving skills
- 10 Examples of problem-solving strategies
- 25 Problem-solving activities and games for kids
Some key components of problem-solving include:
- Identifying the problem Recognizing and defining the issue or challenge that needs to be addressed.
- Analyzing the problem Investigating and understanding the underlying causes, factors, and relationships related to the problem.
- Generating solutions Generating potential solutions or strategies to address the problem.
- Evaluating all possible solutions (Pros and Cons Analysis) Assessing the feasibility, effectiveness, and potential consequences of each solution. Considering the positive and negative aspects of each solution.
- Decision-making Selecting the best solution based on our analysis and judgment.
- Implementing the best solution Actioning our chosen solution
- Monitoring progress and results
- Reflecting on the outcomes Reviewing and evaluating the outcomes of the implemented solution, learning from the experience, and making adjustments if necessary.
Development of Problem-Solving Skills in Childhood
Children begin to develop problem-solving skills from a very early age, and these skills continue to develop and refine throughout childhood and adolescence.
Babies soon learn about action and reaction. And, as early as eight months, they begin to acquire an understanding of cause and effect (they shake a rattle, it makes a sound; they push a toy, it falls)
Between 13 and 24 months, they start solving simple problems through trial and error and engage in symbolic play using their imagination.
As children progress into middle childhood (ages 7-11), they develop more advanced problem-solving skills. They become capable of understanding multiple perspectives and can consider multiple factors when solving problems. They start using logic and reasoning to solve increasingly complex problems.
During adolescence (ages 12 and up), problem-solving skills continue to develop. Teenagers can generate and test hypotheses and use deductive and inductive reasoning to arrive at solutions.
Each child will develop their problem-solving skills at their own pace. Some children may show advanced problem-solving abilities at an earlier age. Others may require more time and experience to develop these skills fully.
Benefits of Developing Problem-Solving Skills in Children
Problem-solving skills in children are crucial for children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. It equips them to approach challenges, think critically, make informed decisions, and find creative solutions.
The benefits of good problem-solving skills in children include:
- Positive impact on self-esteem and confidence Identifying, analyzing, and solving their problems contributes to our kids’ sense of competence .
- Fosters Independence and Autonomy When our kids are able to problem-solve on their own, they take one more step toward independence
- Academic Success Problem-solving skills contribute to academic achievement, as they help students analyze and solve complex problems across various subjects.
- Cognitive Development Problem-solving fosters cognitive skills such as logical reasoning, analytical thinking, and abstract reasoning.
- Critical Thinking Problem-solving enhances critical thinking abilities, enabling children to evaluate information, identify biases, and make informed judgments.
- Creativity Problem-solving promotes creativity by encouraging children to think outside the box, generate innovative ideas, and explore multiple solutions.
- Emotional Resilience Problem-solving skills enhance emotional resilience by enabling children to manage and cope with challenges effectively, reducing stress and promoting well-being.
- Improved Social Interactions/Relationships Problem-solving abilities contribute to better social interactions, conflict resolution , and peer collaboration, promoting healthy relationships.
- Future career success Problem-solving skills are highly valued in the workplace and can positively influence future career success.
10+ Helpful Tips to Teach Kids Problem-Solving Skills
Teaching problem-solving skills to kids is an important part of their cognitive development. It helps them develop critical thinking, creativity, and resilience.
But how can we help our kids and students to develop this essential skill?
We can help our kids and students develop and improve their problem-solving skills in many ways. These are some helpful tips that you could consider:
- Model problem-solving behavior When you see yourself in a problem-solving situation, verbalize your thought process: “I wonder how I should address this issue. I guess my alternatives could be… They all have positives and negatives….”
- Let them participate in the problem-solving situation “Could you help me solve this puzzle?”
- Provide real-life problem-solving situations Real-life scenarios make problem-solving more meaningful for kids. For example, discuss how to resolve a conflict with a sibling or how to make the morning routine smoother.
- Teach them how to break down problems Show them how to break down complex problems into manageable sub-problems.
- Practice brainstorming Create brainstorming situations where all the family (or the classroom) can contribute to solving a problem
- Teach the value of perseverance Sometimes, we must stick to a situation and persevere before finding a solution. Encourage kids to persevere through challenges and setbacks, emphasizing that mistakes and failures are opportunities for learning.
- Encourage critical thinking Encourage kids to analyze situations, consider different perspectives, and evaluate possible outcomes.
- How could we make your school lunch healthier but still yummy?
- How could we reuse/recycle all this paper?
- What could we do to help you remember all the steps in your night routine?
- Encourage reflection When they can find a solution for a problem, don’t jump to solve it for them. Encourage them to reflect on the problem and find and evaluate alternatives. And after a problem is solved, think about the whole process and the learnings. “How did this work?” “What did you learn” “Do you need to change anything?”
- Foster creativity Provide them with opportunities for imaginative play, creative projects, and brainstorming sessions.
- Teach the value of teamwork Teach kids the importance of working together to solve problems. Engage them in group activities or projects that require teamwork and collaboration. This helps kids learn the value of different perspectives and work together towards an objective while they practice their communication skills.
- Teach decision-making skills Teach kids how to approach problems systematically by going through the steps we have mentioned in our first section.
- Encourage both structured and free play. Structured play can help you create good problem-solving situations, while free play will foster creativity.
Developing problem-solving skills is an ongoing process that will also continue in adulthood. Provide your kids with guidance and support, and celebrate their efforts and achievements along the way.
10 Examples of Problem-Solving Strategies
There are different strategies that can help us solve a wide range of problems. Here are some commonly recognized problem-solving strategies:
1 . Trial and Error : This is the first problem strategy that we ever learn. We start using trial and error strategies in infancy, and it continues serving its purpose in many situations. This strategy involves trying different solutions or approaches and learning from the errors or failures until a successful solution is found.
2. Algorithm: An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure or a set of rules that guarantees a solution to a specific problem. It is a systematic approach to problem-solving that follows a predetermined set of instructions.
3. Heuristics: Heuristics are mental shortcuts or rules of thumb that help simplify problem-solving by providing quick and efficient strategies. While heuristics can be effective in many situations, they may also lead to biases and errors.
4. Divide and Conquer: This strategy involves breaking down a complex problem into smaller, more manageable chunks or steps that make the overall problem easier to tackle.
5. Working Backwards: This strategy involves starting from the desired outcome and working backward to determine the steps or actions needed to reach that outcome. We often use this problem-solving strategy when we set goals.
6. Analogical Reasoning: Analogical reasoning involves drawing parallels between the current problem and a similar problem that has been solved in the past. By applying the solution from the previous problem to the current one, individuals can find a solution more efficiently.
7. Brainstorming: Brainstorming gets lots of brains working on the same problem. It is a great collaborative problem-solving strategy that can bring different perspectives and experiences to the table and may result in lots of creative ideas and solutions.
8. Decision Matrix: A decision matrix is a systematic approach to evaluating and comparing different options or solutions. It involves creating a matrix that lists alternatives and the criteria for evaluation. It assigns weights or scores to each criterion to come up with the optimal alternative.
9. Root Cause Analysis: Sometimes, we need to understand what is causing a problem before we can attempt to solve it, as different causes may require different approaches (for example, when you are sick, your doctor may need to understand what is causing the problem before prescribing a medicine)
10. Simulation and Modeling: Simulation involves creating a simplified representation or model of a problem situation to gain insights and test different scenarios.
Our choice of strategy will depend on the problem, available resources, and our own personal preferences and circumstances. We may also need to combine strategies or apply different ones to different aspects of a complex problem.
(Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. You can also read our Disclosure & Disclaimer policy here )
Best Problem-Solving Activities for Kids
Play-based activities are centered around play and are designed to engage children in active learning and exploration. And fun problem-solving activities are a great way to develop children’s critical thinking, creativity, and decision-making skills.
In this section, we will review some problem-solving games and activities that will engage your kids’ critical-thinking skills and creativity.
1. Puzzle Games Puzzles are a fun activity for children of all ages. Young children will enjoy simple puzzles, while older children (and adults!) can have fun with more complex ones. Encourage them to use logical thinking and problem-solving strategies to complete the puzzles.
2. Crosswords A crossword is another fun type of puzzle and a good source of mental stimulation.
3. Sudoku Sudoku is a popular logic-based puzzle that involves filling a grid with numbers.
It can be extremely easy or very challenging, adaptable even for young learners.
Let’s go now for a couple of building challenges!
4. Build the Tallest Tower Give the child a set of materials (Legos, building blocks, wooden blocks, or other construction materials) and ask them to build the tallest tower they can. This simple game will encourage them to problem-solve as they build and figure out how to make the tower stable.
5. Build Towers with Different Materials Ask your child to build three different towers with different materials. Then assess how stable they are and how much weight they can hold. Analyze the pros and cons of using each type of material.
6. Treasure Hunt Set up a treasure hunt with clues leading to hidden objects or rewards. Children will have to follow the clues and solve puzzles to find the ultimate prize. This activity encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork.
7. Scavenger Hunt Playing Scavenger Hunt can be a fun way for our kids to put their creative problem-solving skills to good use. Provide them with clues and puzzles that they must solve in order to find the next clue.
8. Mystery Bag Fill a bag with random objects and ask children to come up with creative uses for each item. Encourage them to think outside the box and find innovative solutions.
9. Memory Game While memory games primarily focus on memory retention and recall, they can indirectly contribute to problem-solving skills by developing cognitive abilities such as attention, information processing, and adjusting their strategies.
10. Role-Playing Scenarios Create role-playing scenarios where children have to solve a problem or make decisions. For example, pretend to be stranded on a desert island and ask them to decide what items they will take and how they will survive.
11. Role-Play Social Situations Work in developing social skills with social problem-solving situations.
12. Brainstorming Sessions Choose a topic or problem and hold brainstorming sessions where children can generate as many ideas as possible. Encourage them not to limit themselves (even if alternatives feel unfeasible!)
13. Team Building Activities and Games Engage children in team-building games like building a balloon tower. Each team member will need to collaborate, communicate, and problem-solve together to complete the project.
14. Escape Rooms An escape room is a super fun team problem-solving activity.
In an escape room, participants are locked inside a themed room and must work together to solve puzzles, find clues, and accomplish tasks within a given time limit in order to “escape” from the room.
15. Science Experiments Conduct simple science experiments that involve problem-solving. For example, in the classic “sink or float” experiment, children predict and test which objects will sink or float in water.
Problem-Solving Board Games
There are many board games that will test our kids problems solving activities. These are just a few examples:
16. Cluedo Players must solve a murder mystery by deducing the murderer, the weapon used, and the location of the crime. Players collect and examine clues to eliminate possibilities and make logical deductions.
17. Codenames Another classic game where players are split into two teams and must guess words based on clues from their teammates.
There are many codenames games available, including themes like Disney or Harry Potter.
18. Mastermind Game In this strategy game players take turns setting and solving secret codes
19. Scrabble Scrabble is a classic word game where players form words on a game board using letter tiles.
Kids must use their problem-solving skills to analyze the available letters, consider the best word combination and strategically place those words to score the highest points.
Learning Problem-Solving with Card Games
Card games provide opportunities for kids to develop problem-solving skills such as strategy, memory, pattern recognition, decision-making, and observation.
Just a couple of examples:
20. Uno Uno is a classic card game where kids match cards based on color or number. They need to assess their cards, strategize and make decisions about which cards to play to get rid of their cards while also considering the cards in their opponents’ hands.
21. Go Fish Go Fish is a classic card game where players try to collect sets of cards by asking other players if they have specific cards. Players need to remember which cards they have and make decisions about who to ask and what sets to pursue.
22. Coding Challenges Introduce children to coding activities using platforms like Scratch (or ScratchJr for younger kids), Code.org, or Tynker. Coding involves problem-solving and logical thinking, and children can create interactive stories, games, or animations.
23. Outdoor Problem Solving Take children outside and present them with challenges that require problem-solving, such as building a shelter using natural materials or finding their way through an obstacle course.
24. Problem-Solving Worksheets Help your child follow a systematic approach to problem-solving with these helpful worksheets
25. Goal-Setting Activities for Kids Learning to set goals and make plans to achieve them is also a problem-solving activity. I have several resources to teach kids about goal-setting that I will list below:
- Goal-Setting Activities for Kids
- SMART Goals for Kids
- Goal Tracker Thermometer
Remember to provide guidance and support during these activities while encouraging children to think independently and come up with their own solutions.
Looking for kid-friendly examples of problem-solving strategies ?
This workbook explores the following problem-solving strategies (with child-friendly examples and activities):
- Trial and Error
- Heuristics (Clever shortcuts)
- Divide and Conquer
- Working Backwards
- Decision Matrix
- Root Cause Analysis
- Systematic problem-solving
I always look forward to your articles with active interventions. Thank you!
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
15 Common Problem-Solving Interview Questions
In an interview for a big tech company, I was asked if I’d ever resolved a fight — and the exact way I went about handling it. I felt blindsided, and I stammered my way through an excuse of an answer.
It’s a familiar scenario to fellow technical job seekers — and one that risks leaving a sour taste in our mouths. As candidate experience becomes an increasingly critical component of the hiring process, recruiters need to ensure the problem-solving interview questions they prepare don’t dissuade talent in the first place.
Interview questions designed to gauge a candidate’s problem-solving skills are more often than not challenging and vague. Assessing a multifaceted skill like problem solving is tricky — a good problem solver owns the full solution and result, researches well, solves creatively and takes action proactively.
It’s hard to establish an effective way to measure such a skill. But it’s not impossible.
We recommend taking an informed and prepared approach to testing candidates’ problem-solving skills . With that in mind, here’s a list of a few common problem-solving interview questions, the science behind them — and how you can go about administering your own problem-solving questions with the unique challenges of your organization in mind.
Key Takeaways for Effective Problem-Solving Interview Questions
- Problem solving lies at the heart of programming.
- Testing a candidate’s problem-solving skills goes beyond the IDE. Problem-solving interview questions should test both technical skills and soft skills.
- STAR, SOAR and PREP are methods a candidate can use to answer some non-technical problem-solving interview questions.
- Generic problem-solving interview questions go a long way in gauging a candidate’s fit. But you can go one step further by customizing them according to your company’s service, product, vision, and culture.
Technical Problem-Solving Interview Question Examples
Evaluating a candidates’ problem-solving skills while using coding challenges might seem intimidating. The secret is that coding challenges test many things at the same time — like the candidate’s knowledge of data structures and algorithms, clean code practices, and proficiency in specific programming languages, to name a few examples.
Problem solving itself might at first seem like it’s taking a back seat. But technical problem solving lies at the heart of programming, and most coding questions are designed to test a candidate’s problem-solving abilities.
Here are a few examples of technical problem-solving questions:
1. Mini-Max Sum
This well-known challenge, which asks the interviewee to find the maximum and minimum sum among an array of given numbers, is based on a basic but important programming concept called sorting, as well as integer overflow. It tests the candidate’s observational skills, and the answer should elicit a logical, ad-hoc solution.
2. Organizing Containers of Balls
This problem tests the candidate’s knowledge of a variety of programming concepts, like 2D arrays, sorting and iteration. Organizing colored balls in containers based on various conditions is a common question asked in competitive examinations and job interviews, because it’s an effective way to test multiple facets of a candidate’s problem-solving skills.
3. Build a Palindrome
This is a tough problem to crack, and the candidate’s knowledge of concepts like strings and dynamic programming plays a significant role in solving this challenge. This problem-solving example tests the candidate’s ability to think on their feet as well as their ability to write clean, optimized code.
4. Subarray Division
Based on a technique used for searching pairs in a sorted array ( called the “two pointers” technique ), this problem can be solved in just a few lines and judges the candidate’s ability to optimize (as well as basic mathematical skills).
5. The Grid Search
This is a problem of moderate difficulty and tests the candidate’s knowledge of strings and searching algorithms, the latter of which is regularly tested in developer interviews across all levels.
Common Non-Technical Problem-Solving Interview Questions
Testing a candidate’s problem-solving skills goes beyond the IDE . Everyday situations can help illustrate competency, so here are a few questions that focus on past experiences and hypothetical situations to help interviewers gauge problem-solving skills.
1. Given the problem of selecting a new tool to invest in, where and how would you begin this task?
Key Insight : This question offers insight into the candidate’s research skills. Ideally, they would begin by identifying the problem, interviewing stakeholders, gathering insights from the team, and researching what tools exist to best solve for the team’s challenges and goals.
2. Have you ever recognized a potential problem and addressed it before it occurred?
Key Insight: Prevention is often better than cure. The ability to recognize a problem before it occurs takes intuition and an understanding of business needs.
3. A teammate on a time-sensitive project confesses that he’s made a mistake, and it’s putting your team at risk of missing key deadlines. How would you respond?
Key Insight: Sometimes, all the preparation in the world still won’t stop a mishap. Thinking on your feet and managing stress are skills that this question attempts to unearth. Like any other skill, they can be cultivated through practice.
4. Tell me about a time you used a unique problem-solving approach.
Key Insight: Creativity can manifest in many ways, including original or novel ways to tackle a problem. Methods like the 10X approach and reverse brainstorming are a couple of unique approaches to problem solving.
5. Have you ever broken rules for the “greater good?” If yes, can you walk me through the situation?
Key Insight: “Ask for forgiveness, not for permission.” It’s unconventional, but in some situations, it may be the mindset needed to drive a solution to a problem.
6. Tell me about a weakness you overcame at work, and the approach you took.
Key Insight: According to Compass Partnership , “self-awareness allows us to understand how and why we respond in certain situations, giving us the opportunity to take charge of these responses.” It’s easy to get overwhelmed when faced with a problem. Candidates showing high levels of self-awareness are positioned to handle it well.
7. Have you ever owned up to a mistake at work? Can you tell me about it?
Key Insight: Everybody makes mistakes. But owning up to them can be tough, especially at a workplace. Not only does it take courage, but it also requires honesty and a willingness to improve, all signs of 1) a reliable employee and 2) an effective problem solver.
8. How would you approach working with an upset customer?
Key Insight: With the rise of empathy-driven development and more companies choosing to bridge the gap between users and engineers, today’s tech teams speak directly with customers more frequently than ever before. This question brings to light the candidate’s interpersonal skills in a client-facing environment.
9. Have you ever had to solve a problem on your own, but needed to ask for additional help? How did you go about it?
Key Insight: Knowing when you need assistance to complete a task or address a situation is an important quality to have while problem solving. This questions helps the interviewer get a sense of the candidate’s ability to navigate those waters.
10. Let’s say you disagree with your colleague on how to move forward with a project. How would you go about resolving the disagreement?
Key Insight: Conflict resolution is an extremely handy skill for any employee to have; an ideal answer to this question might contain a brief explanation of the conflict or situation, the role played by the candidate and the steps taken by them to arrive at a positive resolution or outcome.
Strategies for Answering Problem-Solving Questions
If you’re a job seeker, chances are you’ll encounter this style of question in your various interview experiences. While problem-solving interview questions may appear simple, they can be easy to fumble — leaving the interviewer without a clear solution or outcome.
It’s important to approach such questions in a structured manner. Here are a few tried-and-true methods to employ in your next problem-solving interview.
1. Shine in Interviews With the STAR Method
S ituation, T ask, A ction, and R esult is a great method that can be employed to answer a problem-solving or behavioral interview question. Here’s a breakdown of these steps:
- Situation : A good way to address almost any interview question is to lay out and define the situation and circumstances.
- Task : Define the problem or goal that needs to be addressed. Coding questions are often multifaceted, so this step is particularly important when answering technical problem-solving questions.
- Action : How did you go about solving the problem? Try to be as specific as possible, and state your plan in steps if you can.
- Result : Wrap it up by stating the outcome achieved.
2. Rise above difficult questions using the SOAR method
A very similar approach to the STAR method, SOAR stands for S ituation, O bstacle, A ction, and R esults .
- Situation: Explain the state of affairs. It’s important to steer clear of stating any personal opinions in this step; focus on the facts.
- Obstacle: State the challenge or problem you faced.
- Action: Detail carefully how you went about overcoming this obstacle.
- Result: What was the end result? Apart from overcoming the obstacle, did you achieve anything else? What did you learn in the process?
3. Do It the PREP Way
Traditionally used as a method to make effective presentations, the P oint, R eason, E xample, P oint method can also be used to answer problem-solving interview questions.
- Point : State the solution in plain terms.
- Reasons: Follow up the solution by detailing your case — and include any data or insights that support your solution.
- Example: In addition to objective data and insights, drive your answer home by contextualizing the solution in a real-world example.
- Point : Reiterate the solution to make it come full circle.
How to Customize Problem-Solving Interview Questions
Generic problem-solving interview questions go a long way in gauging a candidate’s skill level, but recruiters can go one step further by customizing these problem-solving questions according to their company’s service, product, vision, or culture.
Here are some tips to do so:
- Break down the job’s responsibilities into smaller tasks. Job descriptions may contain ambiguous responsibilities like “manage team projects effectively.” To formulate an effective problem-solving question, envision what this task might look like in a real-world context and develop a question around it.
- Tailor questions to the role at hand. Apart from making for an effective problem-solving question, it gives the candidate the impression you’re an informed technical recruiter. For example, an engineer will likely have attended many scrums. So, a good question to ask is: “Suppose you notice your scrums are turning unproductive. How would you go about addressing this?”
- Consider the tools and technologies the candidate will use on the job. For example, if Jira is the primary project management tool, a good problem-solving interview question might be: “Can you tell me about a time you simplified a complex workflow — and the tools you used to do so?”
- If you don’t know where to start, your company’s core values can often provide direction. If one of the core values is “ownership,” for example, consider asking a question like: “Can you walk us through a project you owned from start to finish?”
- Sometimes, developing custom content can be difficult even with all these tips considered. Our platform has a vast selection of problem-solving examples that are designed to help recruiters ask the right questions to help nail their next technical interview.
Get started with HackerRank
Over 3,000 companies and 40% of developers worldwide use HackerRank to hire tech talent and sharpen their skills.
- Coding Questions
- Interview Preparation
6 REST API Interview Questions Every Developer Should Know
Top 20 Problem Solving Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)
Mike Simpson 0 Comments
By Mike Simpson
When candidates prepare for interviews, they usually focus on highlighting their leadership, communication, teamwork, and similar crucial soft skills . However, not everyone gets ready for problem-solving interview questions. And that can be a big mistake.
Problem-solving is relevant to nearly any job on the planet. Yes, it’s more prevalent in certain industries, but it’s helpful almost everywhere.
Regardless of the role you want to land, you may be asked to provide problem-solving examples or describe how you would deal with specific situations. That’s why being ready to showcase your problem-solving skills is so vital.
If you aren’t sure who to tackle problem-solving questions, don’t worry, we have your back. Come with us as we explore this exciting part of the interview process, as well as some problem-solving interview questions and example answers.
What Is Problem-Solving?
When you’re trying to land a position, there’s a good chance you’ll face some problem-solving interview questions. But what exactly is problem-solving? And why is it so important to hiring managers?
Well, the good folks at Merriam-Webster define problem-solving as “the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.” While that may seem like common sense, there’s a critical part to that definition that should catch your eye.
What part is that? The word “process.”
In the end, problem-solving is an activity. It’s your ability to take appropriate steps to find answers, determine how to proceed, or otherwise overcome the challenge.
Being great at it usually means having a range of helpful problem-solving skills and traits. Research, diligence, patience, attention-to-detail , collaboration… they can all play a role. So can analytical thinking , creativity, and open-mindedness.
But why do hiring managers worry about your problem-solving skills? Well, mainly, because every job comes with its fair share of problems.
While problem-solving is relevant to scientific, technical, legal, medical, and a whole slew of other careers. It helps you overcome challenges and deal with the unexpected. It plays a role in troubleshooting and innovation. That’s why it matters to hiring managers.
How to Answer Problem-Solving Interview Questions
Okay, before we get to our examples, let’s take a quick second to talk about strategy. Knowing how to answer problem-solving interview questions is crucial. Why? Because the hiring manager might ask you something that you don’t anticipate.
Problem-solving interview questions are all about seeing how you think. As a result, they can be a bit… unconventional.
These aren’t your run-of-the-mill job interview questions . Instead, they are tricky behavioral interview questions . After all, the goal is to find out how you approach problem-solving, so most are going to feature scenarios, brainteasers, or something similar.
So, having a great strategy means knowing how to deal with behavioral questions. Luckily, there are a couple of tools that can help.
First, when it comes to the classic approach to behavioral interview questions, look no further than the STAR Method . With the STAR method, you learn how to turn your answers into captivating stories. This makes your responses tons more engaging, ensuring you keep the hiring manager’s attention from beginning to end.
Now, should you stop with the STAR Method? Of course not. If you want to take your answers to the next level, spend some time with the Tailoring Method , too.
With the Tailoring Method, it’s all about relevance. So, if you get a chance to choose an example that demonstrates your problem-solving skills, this is really the way to go.
We also wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview. After all, hiring managers will often ask you more generalized interview questions!
Click below to get your free PDF now:
Get Our Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet!
FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our " Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet " that gives you " word-word sample answers to the most common job interview questions you'll face at your next interview .
CLICK HERE TO GET THE JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS CHEAT SHEET
Top 3 Problem-Solving-Based Interview Questions
Alright, here is what you’ve been waiting for: the problem-solving questions and sample answers.
While many questions in this category are job-specific, these tend to apply to nearly any job. That means there’s a good chance you’ll come across them at some point in your career, making them a great starting point when you’re practicing for an interview.
So, let’s dive in, shall we? Here’s a look at the top three problem-solving interview questions and example responses.
1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to solve a challenging problem?
In the land of problem-solving questions, this one might be your best-case scenario. It lets you choose your own problem-solving examples to highlight, putting you in complete control.
When you choose an example, go with one that is relevant to what you’ll face in the role. The closer the match, the better the answer is in the eyes of the hiring manager.
“While working as a mobile telecom support specialist for a large organization, we had to transition our MDM service from one vendor to another within 45 days. This personally physically handling 500 devices within the agency. Devices had to be gathered from the headquarters and satellite offices, which were located all across the state, something that was challenging even without the tight deadline. I approached the situation by identifying the location assignment of all personnel within the organization, enabling me to estimate transit times for receiving the devices. Next, I timed out how many devices I could personally update in a day. Together, this allowed me to create a general timeline. After that, I coordinated with each location, both expressing the urgency of adhering to deadlines and scheduling bulk shipping options. While there were occasional bouts of resistance, I worked with location leaders to calm concerns and facilitate action. While performing all of the updates was daunting, my approach to organizing the event made it a success. Ultimately, the entire transition was finished five days before the deadline, exceeding the expectations of many.”
2. Describe a time where you made a mistake. What did you do to fix it?
While this might not look like it’s based on problem-solving on the surface, it actually is. When you make a mistake, it creates a challenge, one you have to work your way through. At a minimum, it’s an opportunity to highlight problem-solving skills, even if you don’t address the topic directly.
When you choose an example, you want to go with a situation where the end was positive. However, the issue still has to be significant, causing something negative to happen in the moment that you, ideally, overcame.
“When I first began in a supervisory role, I had trouble setting down my individual contributor hat. I tried to keep up with my past duties while also taking on the responsibilities of my new role. As a result, I began rushing and introduced an error into the code of the software my team was updating. The error led to a memory leak. We became aware of the issue when the performance was hindered, though we didn’t immediately know the cause. I dove back into the code, reviewing recent changes, and, ultimately, determined the issue was a mistake on my end. When I made that discovery, I took several steps. First, I let my team know that the error was mine and let them know its nature. Second, I worked with my team to correct the issue, resolving the memory leak. Finally, I took this as a lesson about delegation. I began assigning work to my team more effectively, a move that allowed me to excel as a manager and help them thrive as contributors. It was a crucial learning moment, one that I have valued every day since.”
3. If you identify a potential risk in a project, what steps do you take to prevent it?
Yes, this is also a problem-solving question. The difference is, with this one, it’s not about fixing an issue; it’s about stopping it from happening. Still, you use problem-solving skills along the way, so it falls in this question category.
If you can, use an example of a moment when you mitigated risk in the past. If you haven’t had that opportunity, approach it theoretically, discussing the steps you would take to prevent an issue from developing.
“If I identify a potential risk in a project, my first step is to assess the various factors that could lead to a poor outcome. Prevention requires analysis. Ensuring I fully understand what can trigger the undesired event creates the right foundation, allowing me to figure out how to reduce the likelihood of those events occurring. Once I have the right level of understanding, I come up with a mitigation plan. Exactly what this includes varies depending on the nature of the issue, though it usually involves various steps and checks designed to monitor the project as it progresses to spot paths that may make the problem more likely to happen. I find this approach effective as it combines knowledge and ongoing vigilance. That way, if the project begins to head into risky territory, I can correct its trajectory.”
17 More Problem-Solving-Based Interview Questions
In the world of problem-solving questions, some apply to a wide range of jobs, while others are more niche. For example, customer service reps and IT helpdesk professionals both encounter challenges, but not usually the same kind.
As a result, some of the questions in this list may be more relevant to certain careers than others. However, they all give you insights into what this kind of question looks like, making them worth reviewing.
Here are 17 more problem-solving interview questions you might face off against during your job search:
- How would you describe your problem-solving skills?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to use creativity to deal with an obstacle?
- Describe a time when you discovered an unmet customer need while assisting a customer and found a way to meet it.
- If you were faced with an upset customer, how would you diffuse the situation?
- Tell me about a time when you had to troubleshoot a complex issue.
- Imagine you were overseeing a project and needed a particular item. You have two choices of vendors: one that can deliver on time but would be over budget, and one that’s under budget but would deliver one week later than you need it. How do you figure out which approach to use?
- Your manager wants to upgrade a tool you regularly use for your job and wants your recommendation. How do you formulate one?
- A supplier has said that an item you need for a project isn’t going to be delivered as scheduled, something that would cause your project to fall behind schedule. What do you do to try and keep the timeline on target?
- Can you share an example of a moment where you encountered a unique problem you and your colleagues had never seen before? How did you figure out what to do?
- Imagine you were scheduled to give a presentation with a colleague, and your colleague called in sick right before it was set to begin. What would you do?
- If you are given two urgent tasks from different members of the leadership team, both with the same tight deadline, how do you choose which to tackle first?
- Tell me about a time you and a colleague didn’t see eye-to-eye. How did you decide what to do?
- Describe your troubleshooting process.
- Tell me about a time where there was a problem that you weren’t able to solve. What happened?
- In your opening, what skills or traits make a person an exceptional problem-solver?
- When you face a problem that requires action, do you usually jump in or take a moment to carefully assess the situation?
- When you encounter a new problem you’ve never seen before, what is the first step that you take?
Putting It All Together
At this point, you should have a solid idea of how to approach problem-solving interview questions. Use the tips above to your advantage. That way, you can thrive during your next interview.
FREE : Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet!
Download our " Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet " that gives you word-for-word sample answers to some of the most common interview questions including:
- What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
- What Is Your Greatest Strength?
- Tell Me About Yourself
- Why Should We Hire You?
Click Here To Get The Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet
Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com.
His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others.
Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .
About The Author
Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .
Copyright © 2022 · TheInterviewguys.com · All Rights Reserved
- Our Products
- Case Studies
- Interview Questions
- Jobs Articles
- Members Login
- Las Vegas Shooting
- Warming Arctic
- Taylor Swift
- CBS News Live
- Managing Your Money
Watch CBS News
Google, IBM make strides toward quantum computers that may revolutionize problem solving
By Scott Pelley
December 3, 2023 / 7:17 PM EST / CBS News
Artificial intelligence is the magic of the moment but this is a story about what's next, something incomprehensible. Tomorrow, IBM will announce an advance in an entirely new kind of computing--one that may solve problems in minutes that would take today's supercomputers millions of years. That's the difference in quantum computing, a technology being developed at IBM, Google and others. It's named for quantum physics, which describes the forces of the subatomic realm. The science is deep and we can't scratch the surface, but we hope to explain enough so that you won't be blindsided by a breakthrough that could transform civilization.
The quantum computer pushes the limits of knowledge--new science, new engineering-- all leading to this processor that computes with the atomic forces that created the universe.
Dario Gil: I think this moment, it feels to us like the pioneers of the 1940s and 50s that were building the first digital computers.
Dario Gil is something of a quantum crusader. Spanish-born with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, Gil is head of research at IBM.
Scott Pelley: How much faster is this than say, the world's best supercomputer today?
Dario Gil: We are now in a stage where we can do certain calculations with these systems that would take the biggest supercomputers in the world to be able to do some similar calculation. But the beauty of it, is that we see that we're gonna continue to expand that capability, such that not even a million or a billion of those supercomputers connected together could do the calculations of these future machines. So, we've come a long way. And the most exciting part is that we have a road map and a journey right now, where that is going to continue to increase at a rate that is gonna be shocking.
Scott Pelley: I'm not sure the world is prepared for this change.
Dario Gil: Definitely not.
To understand the change, go back to 1947 and the invention of a switch called a transistor.
Computers have processed information on transistors ever since, getting faster as more transistors were squeezed onto a chip--billions of them today.
But it takes that many because each transistor holds information in only two states. It's either on or it's off-- like a coin-- heads or tails. Quantum abandons transistors and encodes information on electrons that behave like this coin we created with animation. Electrons behave in a way so that they are heads and tails and everything in between. You've gone from handling one bit of information at a time on a transistor to exponentially more data.
Michio Kaku: You can see that there's a fantastic amount of information stored, when you can look at all possible angles, not just up or down.
Physicist Michio Kaku of the City University of New York, already calls today's computers "classical." He uses a maze to explain quantum's difference.
Michio Kaku: Let's look at a classical computer calculating how a mouse navigates a maze. It is painful. One by one, it has to map every single left turn, right turn, left turn, right turn before it finds the goal. Now a quantum computer scans all possible routes simultaneously. This is amazing. How many turns are there? Hundreds of possible turns, right? Quantum computers do it all at once.
Kaku's book, titled "Quantum Supremacy," explains the stakes.
Michio Kaku: We're looking at a race, a race between China, between IBM, Google, Microsoft, Honeywell, all the big boys are in this race to create a workable, operationally efficient quantum computer. Because the nation or company that does this, will rule the world economy.
But a reliable, general purpose, quantum computer is a tough climb yet. Maybe that's why this wall is in the lobby of Google's quantum lab in California.
Here, we got an inside look, starting with a microscope's view of what replaces the transistor.
Google employee: This right here is one qubit and this is another qubit, this is a five qubit chain.
Those crosses, at the bottom, are qubits, short for quantum bits. They hold the electrons and act like artificial atoms. Unlike transistors, each additional qubit doubles the computer's power. It's exponential. so, while 20 transistors are 20 times more powerful than one. Twenty qubits are a million times more powerful than one.
Charina Chou: So this gets positioned right here on the fridge.
Charina Chou, chief operating officer of Google's lab, showed us the processor that holds the qubits. Much of that above chills the qubits to what physicists call near absolute zero.
Scott Pelley: Near absolute zero I understand is about 460 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. So that's about as cold as anything can get.
Charina Chou: Yes, almost as cold as possible.
That temperature, inside a sealed computer, is one of the coldest places in the universe. The deep freeze eliminates electrical resistance and isolates the qubits from outside vibrations so they can be controlled with an electro-magnetic field. The qubits must vibrate in unison. But that's a tough trick called coherence.
Scott Pelley: Once you have achieved coherence of the qubits, how easy is that to maintain?
Charina Chou: It's really hard. Coherence is very challenging.
Coherence is fleeting. In all similar machines, coherence breaks down constantly--creating errors.
Charina Chou: We're making about one error in every hundred or so steps. Ultimately, we think we're gonna need about one error in every million or so steps. That would probably be identified as one of the biggest barriers.
Mitigating those errors and extending coherence time while scaling up to larger machines are the challenges facing German-American scientist Hartmut Neven, who founded Google's lab, and its casual style, in 2012.
Scott Pelley: Can the problems that are in the way of quantum computing be solved?
Hartmut Neven: I should confess, my subtitle here is chief optimist. After having said this, I would say at this point, we don't need any more fundamental breakthroughs. We need little improvements here and there. If we have all the pieces together, we just need to integrate them well to build larger and larger systems.
Scott Pelley: And you think that all of this will be integrated into a system in what period of time?
Hartmut Neven: Yeah. We often say we wanna do it by the end of the decade so that we can use this Kennedy quote, "Get it done by the end of the decade."
Scott Pelley: The end of this decade?
Hartmut Neven: Yes.
Scott Pelley: Five or six years?
That's about the timeline Dario Dil predicts. And the IBM research director told us something surprising.
Scott Pelley: There are problems that classical computers can never solve.
Dario Gil: Can never solve. And I think this is an important point because we're accustomed to say, "ah computers get better." Actually, there are many, many problems that are so complex that we can make that statement that, "Actually, classical computers will never be able to solve that problem." Not now, not 100 years from now, not 1,000 years from now." You actually require a different way to represent information and process information. That's what quantum gives you.
Quantum could give us answers to impossible problems in physics, chemistry, engineering and medicine. Which is why IBM and Cleveland Clinic have installed one of the first quantum computers to leave the lab for the real world.
Serpil Erzurum: It takes way too much time to find the solutions we need.
We sat down with Dario Gil and Dr. Serpil Erzurum, chief research officer at Cleveland Clinic. She told us health care would be transformed if quantum computers can model the behavior of proteins- the molecules that regulate all life. Proteins change shape to change function in ways too complex to follow. and when they get it wrong that causes disease.
Serpil Erzurum: It takes on many shapes, many, many shapes, depending upon what it's doing, and where it is, and which other protein it's with. I need to understand the shape it's in when it's doing an interaction or a function that I don't want it to do for that patient. Cancer, autoimmunity. It's a problem. We are limited completely by the computational ability to look at the structure in real time for any, even one, molecule.
Cleveland Clinic is so proud of its quantum computer they set it up in a lobby. Behind the glass, that shiny silver cylinder encloses the kind of cooling system and processor you saw earlier. Quantum is not solving the protein problem yet. This is more of a trial run to introduce researchers to quantum's potential.
Scott Pelley: The people using this machine, are they having to learn an entirely different way to communicate with a computer?
Dario Gil: I think that's what's really nice, that you actually just use a regular laptop, and you write a program very much like you would write a traditional program. But when you, you know, click, you know, "go" and "run," it just happens to run on a very different kind of computer.
There are a half dozen competing designs in the race. China named quantum a top national priority and the U.S. government is spending nearly a billion dollars a year on research. The first change comes next year when the U.S. publishes new standards for encryption because quantum is expected one day to break the codes that lock everything from national secrets to credit cards. Tomorrow, IBM will unveil its Quantum System Two with three times the qubits as the machine you saw in Cleveland. This past August, we saw System Two under construction.
Dario Gil: It's a machine unlike anything we have ever built.
Scott Pelley: And this is it.
Dario Gil: And this is it.
IBM's Dario Gil told us System Two has the room to expand to thousands of qubits.
Scott Pelley: What are the chances that this is one of those things that's gonna be ready in five years and always will be?
Dario Gil: We don't see an obstacle right now that would prevent us from building systems that will have tens of thousands and even a 100 thousand qubits working with each other. So we are highly confident that we will get there.
Of all the amazing things we heard, it was physicist Michio Kaku who led us down the path to the biggest idea of all. He said we were walking through a quantum computer. Processing information with subatomic particles is how the universe works.
Michio Kaku: You know when I look at the night sky, I see stars, I look at the flowers, the trees I realize that it's all quantum, the splendor of the universe itself. The language of the universe is the language of the quantum.
Learning that language may bring more than inconceivable speed. Reverse engineering nature's computer could be a window on creation itself.
Produced by Denise Schrier Cetta and Katie Brennan. Broadcast associates, Michelle Karim and Eliza Costas. Edited by Warren Lustig
Correspondent, "60 Minutes"
More from CBS News
How much debt is worth filing for bankruptcy?
Should seniors still buy gold bars?
15 top 3-year CDs for December 2023
How much will a $15,000 long-term CD make?
- River City Live
A frost advisory in effect for 18 regions in the area
Study: too much screen time can affect child’s communication, problem-solving skills.
Jodi Mohrmann , Managing Editor of special projects
As parents and caregivers, we all want to do what’s best for our young children when it comes to screen time, but you might be wondering about what’s OK and what can do long-term harm.
Recent research shows too much screen time for a child at the age of 1 could lead to developmental delays -- specifically when it comes to communication and problem-solving at the ages of 2 and 4.
“What we know about the brain, particularly in those first five years of life, is that the more areas that you can expose, the more areas that are stimulated and the more areas that are developed,” said Behavioral Pediatrician Dr. Marie Trace, with Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
Trace was not a part of the study but notes there are five domains of early childhood development. This study found that two of them -- communication and problem-solving -- were most noticeably impacted the longer a child spent in front of a screen.
- Communication: Trace says this has to do with things like speech and language.
- Problem-solving: An example of that would be how a child navigates their environment to get their needs met.
Trace said if a child is sitting idle on a couch watching a screen, they’re not getting the chance to explore actively.
“In that exploring, is where stimulation of the brain occurs and it’s where problem-solving happens,” she said. “If I am looking at a screen, there’s not a lot that’s being asked of me, right? Versus navigating my environment, playing with my toys, being outside.”
So how much screen time should be permitted?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time before 18 months, and no more than an hour a day for kids between 2 and 5 years old.
The quality of what children watch matters as well. AAP offers resources for parents and caregivers that says it’s important that kids connect on a personal level with what they’re watching because getting into a storyline or identifying with characters prepares kids for more learning.
Recommended resources from AAP:
- Are some types of screen time better than others?
- Beyond screen time: Help your kids build healthy media use habits
- Family media plan
All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2023 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.
Click here to take a moment and familiarize yourself with our Community Guidelines.