So did you or any family member figure out a solution?
Did you get it on Day 1 or Day 2 or not at all?
The standard solution is to tack the tacks’ box to the wall (or in our case an apple juice box) and place the lit candle in it:
One of our girls, Molly, got the answer on Day 1. Tessa and April figured it out on Day 2. Each one, at some point, realized you could use the tacks’ box. Their solutions varied a bit and a couple were different from the standard answer because our thumbtacks were especially large and were capable of holding the candle wedged between them. This way the tacks’ box could just be placed on the table and used to catch the wax.
The Candle Problem brings to light the concept of functional fixedness. Functional fixedness is a pattern of thought that limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used. When the tacks’ box is holding the tacks it is very hard to see its alternate uses. When the box is emptied it becomes much easier to see its other possibilities.
The important lesson in all of this not whether you figured out a solution, but the realization that the solution to a problem may require a different perspective, a change of assumptions, a shuffling of concepts or parts.
I first heard about the Candle Problem on the following Ted Talk by Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation:
Wikipedia has some more information about The Candle Problem and the psychology behind it.
Keep thinking outside the box and learning beyond the book