In today’s world, strong problem solving skills are more important than ever before. Employers highly value candidates who can think critically and creatively to overcome challenges. If you’re looking for ways to sharpen your high school student’s problem solving abilities, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a quick overview of the top problem solving activities we’ll cover in this guide: group challenges like escape rooms, individual logic puzzles and riddles, project-based learning through coding and engineering tasks, and conversational problem solving through Socratic seminars.

Group Challenges and Escape Rooms

Engaging high school students in problem-solving activities is crucial for their cognitive development and critical thinking skills. One popular and effective approach is through group challenges and escape rooms.

These activities not only promote teamwork and collaboration but also provide an exciting and immersive learning experience.

What Are Escape Rooms and Why Are They Effective?

Escape rooms are physical adventure games where participants are “locked” in a room and must solve puzzles and find clues to escape within a set time limit. These rooms are designed to challenge participants’ problem-solving abilities, logical thinking, and decision-making skills.


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The immersive nature of escape rooms creates an exciting and high-stakes environment that motivates students to think creatively and work together as a team.

Research has shown that escape rooms are highly effective in improving students’ problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

According to a study from BMC Medical Education, escape rooms improve student engagement and learning. This activity can increase motivation and enhance teamwork skills.

The challenging and interactive nature of escape rooms makes them a valuable tool for engaging high school students in problem-solving activities.

Tips for Creating Your Own Escape Room

If you want to create your own escape room for high school students, here are some tips to make it a memorable and effective experience:

  1. Theme and Storyline: Choose an engaging theme or storyline that will capture the students’ interest and make the experience more immersive.
  2. Puzzles and Challenges: Design a variety of puzzles and challenges that require critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork to solve.
  3. Time Limit: Set a reasonable time limit to create a sense of urgency and keep the students engaged throughout the activity.
  4. Feedback and Reflection: Provide feedback and encourage students to reflect on their problem-solving strategies and teamwork skills after completing the escape room.

Other Group Challenges and Problem Solving Activities

In addition to escape rooms, there are various other group challenges and problem-solving activities that can be implemented in high school settings. These activities can range from outdoor team-building exercises to classroom-based problem-solving tasks.

Outdoor activities such as scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, and ropes courses can foster teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Classroom-based activities like brainstorming sessions, case studies, and simulation games can also provide opportunities for students to think critically and solve complex problems.

It is important for educators to select activities that align with the learning objectives and interests of their students. By incorporating these engaging group challenges and problem-solving activities into high school curricula, educators can empower their students to develop essential skills that will benefit them in their academic and professional lives.

Individual Logic Puzzles and Riddles

Benefits of Logic Puzzles

Logic puzzles are a great way to engage high school students in problem-solving activities. These puzzles require students to think critically, analyze information, and use deductive reasoning to find solutions.

They help develop cognitive skills such as logical thinking, attention to detail, and problem-solving abilities. By solving these puzzles individually, students also learn to work independently and trust their own reasoning abilities.

According to Psychology Today, logic puzzles can improve memory, enhance problem-solving skills, and boost overall brain health. They provide mental stimulation and challenge students to think outside the box.

Moreover, logic puzzles are a fun and engaging way to learn, making the learning process enjoyable and captivating for high school students.

Examples of Engaging Logic Puzzles

There are various types of logic puzzles and riddles that high school students can enjoy. Here are a few examples:

  • Grid-based puzzles: These puzzles require students to fill in a grid by using clues to determine the correct arrangement of elements. Sudoku is a popular example of a grid-based logic puzzle.
  • Number series puzzles: In these puzzles, students need to find the missing number or the pattern in a given series of numbers. This helps develop numerical reasoning and pattern recognition skills.
  • Mystery riddles: These riddles present a scenario or a problem that students need to solve by using logic and deduction. They often involve a crime or a mysterious situation that requires careful analysis to find the solution.

These examples are just a starting point, and there are countless logic puzzles and riddles available online or in puzzle books that can keep high school students engaged and challenged.

Tips for Using Riddles and Brain Teasers

When using riddles and brain teasers as problem-solving activities, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  • Start with easier puzzles: Begin with puzzles that are relatively easy to solve, and gradually increase the difficulty level. This allows students to build confidence and develop their problem-solving skills.
  • Encourage collaboration: While individual puzzles are beneficial, group activities can foster teamwork and collaboration. Consider incorporating group discussions or competitions to promote collaboration and peer learning.
  • Provide hints and guidance: If students get stuck, offer hints or guidance to help them move forward. This prevents frustration and keeps the learning process enjoyable.
  • Reflect on the solution: After solving a puzzle, encourage students to reflect on the problem-solving process. Discuss the strategies they used, the challenges they faced, and the lessons they learned. This promotes metacognition and helps students improve their problem-solving skills.

By incorporating individual logic puzzles and riddles into problem-solving activities, high school students can have a great time while developing essential cognitive skills and enhancing their ability to think critically and analytically.

Project-Based Learning Through STEM

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an effective teaching method that encourages students to actively engage in real-world problem-solving. When combined with the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), it creates a powerful learning experience for high school students.

PBL through STEM not only helps students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, but also fosters creativity, collaboration, and communication abilities.


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Coding Challenges

Coding challenges are an excellent way to introduce high school students to the world of computer programming. These challenges allow students to apply their logical thinking and problem-solving skills to create programs or solve coding problems.

Online platforms like Codecademy provide a wide range of coding challenges and tutorials for students to enhance their coding abilities. These challenges can be related to creating games, building websites, or developing mobile applications.

By engaging in coding challenges, students not only learn coding languages but also gain an understanding of the importance of computational thinking in today’s technology-driven world.

Engineering and Design Thinking Projects

Engineering and design thinking projects involve hands-on activities that allow high school students to apply their knowledge of engineering principles and design concepts. These projects can range from building simple structures using everyday materials to constructing complex machines and systems.

Websites like TeachEngineering provide a plethora of project ideas and resources for educators and students. By engaging in these projects, students learn to think critically, analyze problems, and develop innovative solutions.

They also develop essential skills such as teamwork, communication, and time management.

Science Investigation and Experiments

Science investigation and experiments are fundamental to STEM education as they enable high school students to explore scientific concepts through hands-on experiences. These activities involve formulating hypotheses, conducting experiments, collecting data, and analyzing results.

Websites like Science Buddies offer a vast collection of science project ideas and resources for students of all ages. By engaging in scientific investigations and experiments, students not only deepen their understanding of scientific concepts but also develop skills such as observation, data analysis, and critical thinking.

Socratic Seminars

Socratic Seminars are a valuable tool for engaging high school students in problem-solving activities. Originating from the Socratic method of teaching, these seminars encourage students to think critically and engage in thoughtful discussions.

The goal of a Socratic Seminar is to delve deeper into a particular topic or text by asking open-ended questions and encouraging students to analyze and evaluate different perspectives. This method promotes active listening, respectful dialogue, and the development of critical thinking skills.


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One of the key aspects of a successful Socratic Seminar is the preparation of thought-provoking discussion questions. These questions should be open-ended and encourage students to think deeply about the topic being discussed.

A well-prepared question can spark lively and insightful conversations, allowing students to explore different viewpoints and develop their own ideas. It is important for the facilitator or teacher to carefully select questions that will challenge the students and promote critical thinking.

When preparing discussion questions for a Socratic Seminar, it can be helpful to consider the following:

  • What are the main themes or concepts that you want students to explore?
  • How can you frame questions that will encourage students to analyze and evaluate different perspectives?
  • Are there any current events or real-life examples that can be incorporated into the discussion?

During a Socratic Seminar, the facilitator plays a crucial role in guiding the conversation and ensuring that all students have the opportunity to participate. The facilitator should create a safe and inclusive environment where students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions.

It is important to establish ground rules for respectful dialogue, such as using evidence to support arguments and actively listening to others.

The facilitator can also help steer the conversation by asking follow-up questions, summarizing key points, and encouraging students to elaborate on their ideas. By actively listening and responding to student contributions, the facilitator can foster a dynamic and engaging discussion that encourages problem-solving and critical thinking.

Socratic Seminars are a powerful tool for engaging high school students in problem-solving activities. By promoting critical thinking, active listening, and respectful dialogue, these seminars provide an opportunity for students to develop their analytical skills and engage in meaningful conversations.

Whether discussing a literary text or a current event, Socratic Seminars offer a platform for students to explore complex issues and find innovative solutions.


Problem solving abilities will serve students well both in academics and in life after school. The activities discussed give teens a chance to flex their critical thinking muscles in a hands-on, engaging way.

Group challenges teach teamwork and collaboration skills, while individual puzzles help sharpen logic and reasoning. Real-world projects allow students to creatively apply STEM concepts, and seminars provide conversational problem solving practice.

The next time your high schooler seems bored or disengaged, try one of these stimulating problem solving activities! With consistent practice, teens will develop stronger skills to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

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