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6 July 2021

Puzzling developments enhance creativity in Colombia

Technical Delegate for WorldSkills Colombia, Hellman Yesid Rusinque Gamboa, believes solving puzzles is the best way to develop soft skills in young minds.

While technical abilities take centre stage at WorldSkills Competitions, it is obvious after watching a WorldSkills Champion at work, that problem solving and adapting are equally important.

Technical Delegate for WorldSkills Colombia, Hellman Yesid Rusinque Gamboa, believes that solving puzzles is the best way to develop these soft skills in young minds.

It is also the case, Yesid believes, that young people spend too much time glued to social media or spending hours watching YouTube videos - what he thinks is “unfortunately many times, fruitless or useless activities.”

But rather than trying to stop them, Yesid hopes to divert them to his own YouTube channel, Let’s Do Puzzles!, developed with the support of SENA, Colombia’s National Learning Service.

The aim of the videos on the channel, which is in Spanish with English subtitles, is “to highlight the importance of puzzles, to stimulate people, mainly kids, to play with puzzles again, to invite them to train the brain every day.“

The channel was developed during the pandemic, which, Yesid says, has shown just how important developing creativity and problem-solving has become in a fast-changing world.

“As a result of the pandemic, many companies in the world have gone bankrupt, often because they were unable to adapt to the new reality and unable to find new and innovative ways to operate,” he says.

“I’m afraid that most of the problems in the world’s companies caused by the pandemic are due to a lack of the creativity and problem-solving soft skills among the employees.”

A paper written by Yesid and published through WorldSkills Americas sets out his findings, which are that the lack of soft skills can seriously damage a Competitor’s ability to do their best.

As he writes, “it is possible to find cases of young Competitors with excellent technical qualities, but when faced with a competitive situation - such as increased stress, working under pressure, or facing an unexpected problem - they become overwhelmed or make mistakes that they would not normally make, leading to a reduction in the quality of the products or services delivered, and therefore, to a reduction in the score obtained.”

Developing problem-solving skills, he says, should begin at a young age and in the family environment, and playing with puzzles are a good way to do this.

As an example, he offers the tangram, usually, a rectangle or square made up of seven two-dimensional polygons, called tans.

The shapes can be put together - without overlapping - to create multiple patterns resembling everything from a house to a teapot or even a man with an umbrella.

The challenges of the tangram, he says, “can vary from easy to really demanding and complex”, helping to develop skills in both children and adults.

The “Let’s Do Puzzles!” channel also features building blocks, jigsaws, rare puzzles, and versions of the Rubik Cube to test all ages and abilities.

“If we all adopt a healthy habit of this type and begin to promote it in children and young people, in the future we will have a more creative and relevant human talent willing to find solutions to complex problems, are better prepared to contribute to the development of society, companies, and countries, “ Yesid concludes.

His goal is to grow the channel to an international audience, “stimulating the viewers to give themselves a gift by solving puzzles every day.”

“That’s an excellent way to train the brain and to develop creativity and problem-solving soft skills.”

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