Ready to head out to our next destination, we secured everything down below and prepared to raise the anchor.  Damian turned the key, held down the glow plug button, and then attempted to start the motor.  But the engine would not turn over.  What could be the matter now?

We had checked the oil ahead of time.  It was over the mark, but we weren’t too concerned.   Could that be the problem?  Damian ran down the hatch ladder: man on a mission.  The mission was to locate drain plug with the plan to drain some oil.  Perhaps there was too much.

Damian started searching underneath the oil pan on the engine.  Our Universal diesel, 21 horse power engine is located underneath the settee.  So to get to it, we lift off the blue “couch-like” cushions and open the wooden hatch board.  It is inconvenient in the fact that our salon looks a mess when Damian is doing any engine work.  But it’s accessible from three sides and close to his tool box, which is a good thing!

He knew right where the drain plug was, but it was so far down that he did not know how to get to it.  He attempted to fit his hand with the wrench in it back there but realized that there was no way that he could reach it to unscrew it.  Engines on boats have a lot of tricky spots, and some are almost impossible to get to without creativity (which Damian has A LOT of when he’s problem solving)!

Instead of using all of his brainpower to creatively find a way to the drain plug, he took a step back and began thinking about other reasons why the engine was not turning over. He checked the starter battery, which revealed that it was lower than usual.  Knowing that I can be a little crazy about the refrigerator running to keep our food and drinks chilled (and not spoiling), Damian determined that the refrigerator was sucking so much juice from the batteries that there wasn’t enough to jump start the engine too. He flipped the refrigerator off and ran up to the cockpit to try our engine again.

Problem solved?  Yes!  She turned over in a heartbeat.  And we were off.

Reflection: So when we teach our students about “problem solving,” it’s not just for word problems in math.  This is real life.  Problem solving is an ongoing process for human beings in their quest for survival.  Frustration will block critical thinking, which is the very thing we need to problem solve.  So how do we as teachers help our students to push their frustration aside and determine to problem solve with focus and gusto?