Ideation 1: Understanding your Community

Understanding Your Community

Ideation 1

This lesson will help you earn points in the problem section of the Pitch Video part  of the rubric.

In this lesson, you will...

  • Identify different communities that you belong to
  • Use this worksheet to begin documenting your community’s needs

Key Terms

  • Community - A group of people who have something in common.

Identify your Community

Congratulations! You have registered to take part in Technovation Girls and you and your team are excited to solve a problem in your community by creating a technological solution. Your team may or may not already have an idea for a problem to solve.

Either way, let’s discuss what it means to be a part of a community.

We all belong to or are a part of groups, such as our school peers or sports teams.  Many groups are also communities. A community is a group of people who have something in common.   You can think of a community in a lot of different ways; it could be the people who live in the same place or a group that shares similar interests. You may be surprised by how many communities you belong to.  Here are some examples, see if you can think of some more.

Type of Community Example
Location based communities People who go to the same school, people who live in the same city or country
Interest based communities People who play on the same sports team or play the same online games
Identity based communities People who identify as a certain race, ethnicity, or gender
Religion based communities People who follow the same religion

Finding an idea for your Technovation Girls project requires you to identify your community’s needs. Sometimes the people in your community are used to dealing with to problems they have, and are not seeing that there might be more effective solutions. Your job will be looking at the world around you and observing your community closely. You will gather observations and evidence which will later be used to help support the argument for why your team has arrived at a particular solution, and how it effectively solves your community’s needs.

But first, how well do you know your community? You can live somewhere or be a part of a group for a long time and come to realize that there’s a lot going on there that you weren’t even aware of! The next three activities will help you become more aware the communities you belong to, and the problems they might face.

Print the worksheets to get started!

If you do not have access to a printer you can also use blank sheets of paper or follow along with the worksheet online.

Activity: Community Brainstorming

This will help you identify the community that you want to solve a problem for. Even if you already have an idea of a problem to solve, thinking about which communities you belong to will help you come up with the best idea you can.

What You Will Need:

  • Pens or markers
  • Paper to write on or use the worksheet

What You Will Do:

  1. Brainstorm at least four different communities you are a part of or interested in helping
  2. Pick two communities and write down the following characteristics for each.
    • Age
    • Group
    • Language
    • Cultures or Traditions
    • Geographic Location
    • Interests
  3. Once you are done, decide which community you want to focus on. Once you have settled on a community, move on to the next two activities.

Activity: Community Documenting

This activity will help you gather information and characteristics about your community so that you can better understand its needs. In advance, the team should agree on where or who they are most interested in observing and then plan a time to go there to do the activity. This could be a meeting, a day of work, a classroom, or a place, depending on the community selected. Afterwards, the team should find a place where they can write responses to questions, and then discuss their responses together.

What You Will Need:

  • Pens or markers
  • Paper to write on or use the worksheet
  • Clipboard (optional but good to have)
  • Camera (optional but also good to have, you can use the camera on a phone)

What You Will Do:

  1. Schedule a time to observe if your observation involves people.
  2. Go to the place your team has chosen to observe. If you have the worksheet, you can use that to record your responses. Otherwise, write down where the place is and details about who is present on a piece of paper. Be specific.  
  3. Quietly observe. If you are in a meeting or place with people, tell them you are there to watch and learn. Make sure to take notes and, if you have permission from the people present, pictures. If you are in an open space, slowly walk around the area and make note of or take pictures of the major structures (e.g. churches, stores, buildings, schools).
  4. Look for less obvious things. Some examples: a person's silence, a look between people, a community garden, a vacant lot, billboards. As you observe this time, write down not only what you see, but also what you hear, smell, or feel.
  5. When you finish, respond to the following questions:
    • What surprised you the most about the community?
    • Can you see any problems that are impacting the community? If so, who is it affecting and how?
    • What do you think this community needs to help solve the problem/s?
    • Who would be responsible for making that change and how?
    • How might the community needs be solved by technology?
  6. Discuss what some of the common things your team noticed were. Were there any surprises? What were some of the problems that you noticed in the community? Do you have pictures that can help illustrate your points? Does your team feel strongly about any of these issues? Why?
  7. There are other ways to gather information. Below is another activity you can do to help visualize the community in another way.

Activity: Our Community A-Z

Note: Get your mentor involved! They could provide some good insight with your ideas.

Another way to visualize communities is by the brainstorming words that describe them. After you discuss your observations from the community documenting activity, you can try this too. It’s fun!

What You Will Need:

  • Write out the letters of the alphabet on a chalkboard or a whiteboard for each team member. You could do this on paper instead, with one piece of paper per person. You can also use the worksheet.
  • Something for each person to write with.

What You Will Do:

  1. Each team member should write one word that describes the community for as many letters of the alphabet as possible, as fast as she can. For example, "R=Rural". To make it more fun, you can make it a competition. Don't overthink this—it should be spontaneous!
  2. Afterward, everyone should take a look at all the words that came out of this activity and discuss them. Are there any commonalities? Any surprises? What kind of new information came out of this activity that didn’t happen with the physical observation?


Now that you’ve studied the community that you belong to and have gathered evidence of the problems, you are ready to start brainstorming problems and solutions. 

Reflection Questions:

  1. Which community did you pick and why?
  2. Do you feel differently about this community than when you started this lesson? Why or why not?