Ideation 2: Brainstorming Problems

Brainstorming Problems

Ideation 2

This lesson will go over brainstorming problems and help you earn points in the problem section of the Pitch Video part of the rubric.

In this lesson, you will...

  • Brainstorm problems that you’d like to solve in your community
  • Use this worksheet to understand types of problems

Key Terms

  • Brainstorming  - A way to think of a lot of ideas quickly
  • Sustainable Development Goals - The global community's commitments to reduce poverty and help the environment
  • Innovation - Creating a new product or way of doing things that adds value to the world

Types of Problems

In the last lesson, you gathered evidence of issues in your community. Now it’s time to identify problems to solve.

Understanding types of problems

Before brainstorming problems, it can be helpful to think of some problem categories. Many of the following categories include Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or goals that countries around the world agree are important to solve to reduce poverty and help the environment.

  • Basic human needs and rights such as water, food, sleep, clothing, shelter, good education
  • Environment such as climate action, access to clean water, renewable energy
  • Safety needs such as health, well-being, safety against accidents and illness
  • Social needs such as friendships, family, acceptance by others, respect, productivity
  • Additional Sustainable Development Goals good for individual action such as equality, peace and justice

Understanding types of solutions

While you brainstorm problems it is also natural to think of solutions at the same time. Before you think about solutions, it may be helpful to think about ways solutions can be innovative. Let’s consider what makes something an innovation, or creating a new product or way of doing things that adds value to the world. They can:

  • Improve something that already exists
  • Reduce the cost of something that already exists
  • Educate by raising awareness and helping to cause changes in people’s behavior
  • Apply an existing approach to a new situation, or even 
  • Invent a completely new solution, technology, or way of doing things

Solutions can belong to multiple categories. For example, self-driving cars could be an improvement on something that already exists (normal cars) but is also a completely new technology that has never been able to exist before. Keep these categories in mind as you start to think of problems and solutions.

Also see the Additional Resources for more information about themes.

Tips for the ideation process

Brainstorming is a group activity that is meant to generate a large number of ideas. As you brainstorm you might feel vulnerable as you contribute different ideas. This is normal! Here are some tips for good brainstorming:

  • Be sure to capture all ideas, even wild ones!
  • Defer all judgement, on other people’s ideas, and on your own!
  • Build off each other’s ideas.
  • Be visual – you can draw instead of writing words.
  • One conversation at a time – don’t cut each other off.
  • Go for as many ideas as you can.
  • Stay focused.

Here is a video that shows examples of less effective ways to go about brainstorming, and more effective ways, so you can better understand this process.


Activity: Understanding Problems

This will take around 45 minutes 

For this activity you will categorize problems and solutions with your team. 

What You Will Need:

  • Pens or markers
  • Paper to write on or post-its
  • This worksheet
  • Or, if you are on a virtual team, you can use ideaboardz.

What You Will Do:

Activity: Brainstorm Exercise

Now it's time to brainstorm your own ideas. Think about your own life and your community observation.

  1. In pairs or small groups, share with your partner about a time when you felt frustrated recently. What made you frustrated?
  2. Discuss: How would you convince someone to come join your team and tackle this problem with you?
  3. Add the problems that arise in these discussions to your problem categorization board!
  4. Discuss problems you uncovered in your community observations in Ideation 1 - Understanding Your Community. Make sure to add those problems to the board as well.

Hear from other Technovation Girls teams!

If your team is still having trouble identifying a problem to solve, don't worry! It can take several meetings and discussions to decide on a problem you all care about and want to work together to solve.


Make sure to hold onto your problem brainstorm. You will need it for Ideation Lesson 4 - Brainstorming Solutions.

Reflection Questions:

  • Did the exercises help you uncover new or different problems? Did you think of any new solutions?
  • What activities worked best for your team?

Additional Resources 

Searching for past Technovation Girls apps

While you are brainstorming your problem and your solution, it can be helpful to see what other Technovation Girls teams have done in the past. Here are some tips on how to find pitch videos from past Technovation Girls teams:

  • Visit the Technovation App Gallery
  • Choose a topic from the dropdown that matches the category your problem falls in
  • You can filter by location, year, and division too
  • If you are looking for mobile app solutions, choose Technovation Girls; for AI solutions, choose Technovation Families
  • Click the Apply Filters button



Here are some themes inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that you can use for inspiration when brainstorming problems.

You can learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals here.


Why Trees and Behavior Maps 

Here are some more resources to help you understand the root causes behind the problems you've chosen. Building out these maps will organize all your thoughts about your problem in a single, visual place and it'll be a great resource for when you start thinking about how to solve them.