Feynman's Dilemma Options



Feynman Student Dilemma Options

Five dilemmas (situations) for students to consider and focus on within their project:
  1. Feynman was uneasy about the Roger’s Commission limited approach to sorting out the fundamental cause of the disastrous destruction of the space shuttle Challenger – he was in need of input and facts from the shuttle engineers in order to discover the cause of the explosion.

  2. While Feynman, ever the scientist searching for answers, was not afraid to pursue his questions, many others on the commission were hesitant about rocking the boat and shaking up traditional government protocol.

    Sample Indicators of a Successful Design Solution
    Design process strives to breakthrough (nonproductive) traditional protocol in an effort to discover effective solutions:
       - a realistic understanding of traditional protocol
       - targeted inquiry to identify gaps of information
       - solution offers safe and reliable outcomes

  3. Feynman never gave up on finding answers to his questions and the things he wondered about.  His persistence was key to finding out the reasons for the shuttle’s catastrophic failure but it was a departure from the process that was being adhered to by the Roger’s Commission.

  4. Feynman chose to disclose his findings during a televised hearing rather than at a commission meeting and as a result, his findings were only given to President Reagan and not  included in the commission’s official report.


Dilemma 1
Problem Statement
Feynman was uneasy about the Roger’s Commission limited approach to sorting out the fundamental cause of the disastrous destruction of the space shuttle Challenger – he was in need of input and facts from the shuttle engineers in order to discover the cause of the explosion.

Critical Questions
Considering Feynman’s dilemma in how he discovered the truth (talking to the engineers on the ground the morning of the launch), in what ways do you empathize with his uneasy disposition?
  • How do you interpret Feynman’s reactions to this situation, problem, and barriers? 
  • How was his choice pivotal and most impactful as the project progressed?
How did Feynman navigate adversity with this critical crossroad?
  • In what ways did his effort and persistence assist (or not) with the overall challenge?
  • How did his choice assist (or delay) when he was confronted with adversity? 
In way ways has your team become aware of your collective growth/fixed mindset dispositions and decision making practices? 
  • How might your team's redesign offer a creative (original) innovative (new and purposeful) solution that goes beyond the norm (compared to initial or common thinking)?
  • In what ways is your team making sustainable (renewable) contributions?


Dilemma 2
Problem Statement
While Feynman, ever the scientist searching for answers, was not afraid to pursue his questions, many others on the commission were hesitant about rocking the boat and shaking up traditional government protocol.

Critical Questions
Given the rules and regulations that governmental bodies employ to keep order and chain of command, in what ways can you empathize with Feynman’s disposition of “thinking different(ly)?”
  • How do you interpret Feynman’s reactions to the situation, problem, and barriers? 
  • Which of his choices were pivotal and most impactful as the project progressed?
Why might others on the commission, including famous people like Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager (1st man to fly faster than sound), and first female astronaut Sally Ride have been afraid to go beyond the governmental rules and regulations?
  • Why might Feynman not have had the same fear as the others?
  • What aspects of growth mindset thinking seem to stick out in Feynman’s “maverick” approach? 
In way ways has your team become aware of their growth/fixed mindset dispositions and decision making practices? 
  • How might your team's redesign offer a creative (original) innovative (new and purposeful) solution that goes beyond the norm (compared to initial or common thinking)?
  • In what ways is your team making sustainable (renewable) contributions?


Dilemma 3
Problem Statement
Feynman never gave up on finding answers to his questions and the things he wondered about.  His persistence was key to finding out the reasons for the shuttle’s catastrophic failure but it was a departure from the process that was being adhered to by the Roger’s Commission.

Critical Questions
Persistence is a key aspect of genius but how might ruthless persistence cause problems?
  • In what ways did Feynman exhibit persistence in this endeavor? 
  • How might others see his persistence as problematic and why?
In what ways does thinking about persistent questioning take us back to childhood?
  • How did Feynman’s persistence rely on a childlike wonder?
  • In what ways is the persistence Feynman exhibited not like that of a child? 
In way ways has your team become aware of their growth/fixed mindset dispositions and decision making practices? 
  • How might your team's redesign offer a creative (original) innovative (new and purposeful) solution that goes beyond the norm (compared to initial or common thinking)?
  • In what ways is your team making sustainable (renewable) contributions?


Dilemma 4
Problem Statement
Feynman chose to disclose his findings during a televised hearing rather than at a commission meeting and as a result, his findings were only given to President Reagan and not  included in the commission’s official report.

Critical Questions
What problems might the government have had with their star scientist’s findings that they would not have included them in their written report?
  • What aspect of Feynman’s disposition seems problematic for the government? 
  • Why would a government “censor” the words of the man who solved the mystery?
Could Feynman have made a different decision?
  • If he did, what aspect of a growth or fixed mindset would he have to change?
  • If he did, what personality trait would he have to refine? 
In way ways has your team become aware of their growth/fixed mindset dispositions and decision making practices? 
  • How might your team's redesign offer a creative (original) innovative (new and purposeful) solution that goes beyond the norm (compared to initial or common thinking)?
  • In what ways is your team making sustainable (renewable) contributions?