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Imagine being trapped underground for more than two months. Difficulties associated with such a plight include food and water availability, personal hygiene, and psychological issues. The Chilean miners were able to overcome these problems through a vast array of technological wonders, including bacteria-killing clothing, cleansing products that required little or no water, and electronics equipment that allowed the miners to send and receive messages with individuals above ground. Perhaps the most important technological innovation was the Phoenix rescue craft.


1. Was creativity an important aspect of the mine rescue operations? Discuss how many of the solutions provided to the trapped miners constitute creativity.

2. Imagine and describe the process that led to the development of the Phoenix transport system. How do factors such as time and availability of resources influence this process?

3. Think of the Chilean government as the organization leading the rescue operation. What are the characteristics of innovation that this organization brings to the problem?

SOURCE: M. Moffett, “Inventions Ease the Plight of Trapped Miners,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

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