Problem Solving: a 21st Century Skill Challenge

Illustration of a man wearing a hardhat looking at a blueprint

Educators today strive to empower their students with problem solving skills to improve their performance in school and throughout their lives.

Challenged repeatedly throughout history to identify faster, more efficient, and safer systems, the innovators and engineers for the postal systems in the United States provide a rare opportunity to see how problem solving the same challenge (universal service) can change over time.

The Systems at Work exhibition provides a historical account of the ways in which the postal systems in the United States have ensured fast, secure, and regular mail service through changing and challenging times. As new technologies and requirements arose, the mailing industry sought to solve the universal service challenge with new tools and techniques.

This lesson plan provides a sample of how middle school science teachers can teach problem solving and engineering using the content from the 1936 chapter: sending eggs to Alaska! Browse the years and find your favorite problem solving story to help illuminate this skill for your students.

Systems at Work