Past Institutes

What parents have said:

“Thanks for teaching my kids the joy of discovery and the pleasure in finding things out.”

“My kids loved the Gedanken Institute and came away with a whole new set of smart and motivated friends.”

“I’m confident that the problem solving skills my kids learned will help them in all aspects of life. Their motto from the course was, “Don’t be Fooled.”


What students have said:

“Finally, a class that teaches you how to think! I loved it!”

“This was a unique, interesting & fun course. I truly feel like I have learned skills I can use for the rest of my life.”

“This course was excellent. It was very difficult for me at first, but the more I worked at the problems & thought about them, the easier it became.”

“Very challenging. Learn thinking ‘outside the box’.”

“This class is very intellectually stimulating class. It causes me to think about things in a deeper sense outside of class.”


Other quotes:

“ Our students are always enthusiastic about Dr. Meyer’s course.  I would recommend his class for any student who wishes to improve critical thinking skills.”

Karen Rohde, Gifted Services Coordinator, Berea City Schools

President, Greater Cleveland Coordinators of the Gifted



About the Director

Dr. Edwin F. Meyer received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1988 from Case Western Reserve University. From 1989 through the summer of 2000 he worked as a research scientist for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

While at ICI, his primary job was solving problems in research and developent as well as at manufacturing plants around the world. He also became a recruiter, and traveled to colleges and universities around the country to recruit fresh talent.

During his job interviews, he would challenge the candidates to solve problems and was frequently disappointed.

“Too often, the candidates wanted to impress me with their knowledge,” Dr. Meyer says, “I don’t care what they KNOW, I want to know what they can figure out.  The internet has leveled the playing field with respect to knowledge.  If you want to know something, use a computer to Google it.  If you want to solve a problem, you need a human than can think creatively and has some mental stamina.”

He strongly believes that too often children are given answers to remember rather than problems to solve and spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking.

“An important skill for success in the current economy is the ability to focus a long time on a hard problem and come up with a NEW idea.  The best way to develop this skill is to think for a long time about challenging problems.  In today’s formal education, when are students ever given a long time to think about a problem?  How can this skill be developed when they students are constantly being told how to solve the problems?”

In 2000, Dr. Meyer left his position as a research scientist and became a Professor of Physics at Baldwin-Wallace College.  He quickly developed an Honors course called Problem Solving. The course has become a student favorite and has been featured on Channel 5 News.  The video, which features the Rubik’s cube is on Professor Meyer’s Baldwin Wallace Faculty Website:

He taught his problem solving course in New Zealand while on sabbatical and he teaches a business focused version of the course in the graduate business program at Baldwin-Wallace. He has instructed numerous Problem Solving Institutes for talented and gifted students from ages 12 through 17.

He recently presented a TEDx talk at Bendix Corporation and recently coauthored a book for Springer London titled “Guide to Teaching Puzzle Based Learning.”

2015 Summer Institute Info

The 2015 Summer Gedanken Institute for Problem Solving will be held the week of July 6th – 10th.  The Institute will meet from 9:00 am through 4:30 pm daily.  Lunch will be served and snacks and drinks will be available throughout the day.

The Institute welcomes all 12-17 year olds who consider a difficult problem an exciting challenge rather than an unpleasant duty.  There are no prerequisites.  The Institute will NOT train students to solve problems as fast as possible.  The institute will NOT focus on understanding mathematical jargon, symbols or memorizing formulas.  The Institute will not provide ANY stimulus response training.  That is, “If you see this, do this.”

The Institute WILL present challenging problems that require long, careful, focused thought.  The students will spend the vast majority of their time thinking, rather than doing.  They will be performing the necessary pre-solving process of understanding the problem, gathering information, taking inventory, discussing possible approaches and basically trying to gain any insights of the architecture of the solution space.

The institute WILL focus on consensus building, developing mental stamina, contributing as a member of a team, developing social capital and becoming an independent, creative problem solver.

The subjects used will be: operations research, pattern recognition, risk management, probability, geometry, topology, game strategy and logic.


Guide to Teaching Puzzle Based Learning

Puzzle-based Learning is a foundational approach to develop the critical thinking skills and mental stamina essential for solving real-world problems.

This Guide to Teaching Puzzle-based Learning provides invaluable insights drawn from the authors’ extensive experience in teaching Puzzle-based Learning. Practical advice is provided for teachers and lecturers evaluating a range of different formats for varying class sizes, based on results from classes taught in many different countries.

Published by: Springer London

345 pages.


About the Gedanken Institute

The word Gedanken is the German word for thought.  Albert Einstein performed many famous Gedankenexperiments in which he solved problems by just thinking.  The word gedanken has become synonymous with any deep thought.  Specifically, perform a gedanken means to engage in deep thought by asking questions such as; what if? and how come? and why?

The mission of the Gedanken Institute is to challenge young people with problems that require new, creative and sustained thought.  The philosophy of the members of the institute is that today’s students spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking.

To achieve this goal, the Institute provides in-services to middle and high school teachers that describe how to infuse problem solving throughout the curriculum.

The Institute also provides a one-week long intensive summer program designed to challenge intellectually curious 12-17 year olds.  The goal of the course is to transform the students into confident, creative, independent problem solving beasts.