Collaborative Creativity


Students will see how creativity is a group process and how, by working together, they can find better and more innovative solutions to problems.


  1. Copies of “The 18th Camel” story
  2. Pen and paper

Time Required

45–60 minutes


Step 1: The Camel Conundrum

Give the students the story of “The 18th Camel.” TIP: If you do a Google search for “18th Camel,” a suitable version should come up. Ask students to read the story individually and think of solutions to the problem. After students have written down some solutions, ask them to form small groups and discuss potential solutions with others. After students have had a few minutes to do this, ask students to share the solutions they came up with (one common solution is selling the camels and dividing the money). After students have shared their solutions, pass out the “answer” to the problem, and allow students to see how closely their proposed solutions matched up to the suggested one. Remind students that even if their solution did not match the suggested one, if they were able to solve the problem, their solution was a valid one.

Ask students how beneficial it was to work with others when trying to solve this problem. Students will probably report that they were able to come up with more and better solutions when working with others than when working alone. Tell students that when we discuss “creativity,” we are looking at new ways of solving problems, and that often it is helpful to brainstorm and work together to find solutions.

Step 2: Real-World Application

Now, tell students that you are going to show them how they can harness the power of groups in overcoming challenges by seeking the input of others. Have each student write down at least one current challenge they are facing. It could be focused on an organization they belong to (such as NHS, NJHS, or NASC), or it could be a personal challenge. The key element is that it should be something the student is struggling with and cannot solve on their own.

Once everyone has written down their challenges, remind students that sometimes, when we are close to a challenge, it is hard for us to see possible solutions. Select a student who is willing to share their challenge, and have them read their challenge and explain it to the class. Allow other students to offer solutions to the challenge. If you have a larger class or if you feel students would be more comfortable sharing in a smaller setting, break the class into groups and have students present their challenge to a smaller group, rather than the whole class. Alternatively, you could have a challenge already selected for students and have them participate in a class-sized or small-group brainstorming session to try to create solutions to the problem. Ask students after they are done if they feel they were able to come up with better solutions by working in a group than by working alone.

Step 3: It’s OK to Be Wrong

Finally, conclude the activity by reminding students that when exploring new and unique solutions to problems, they have to be prepared to be wrong and adapt their ideas. Failure is often a byproduct of success, and author Ken Robinson reminds us that “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Rather than get discouraged, students should be willing to try different solutions to problems until they find one that works. The key is searching for the solution with others and asking for help when needed. —

Felix Yerace is a student government co-adviser at South Fayette High School in McDonald, PA, and an NASSP Student Leadership Advisory Committee member.