Ideation 6: Brainstorming Solutions

Brainstorming Solutions

Ideation 6

This lesson will help you earn points in several lines of the rubric focusing on the problem and solution in the Pitch Video part of the rubric.

In this lesson, you will…

  • Check the scale of your problem
  • Decide on a problem to solve with your team

Key Terms

  • Solution- an app or AI project  you create to solve your problem

Types of Solutions

In this lesson, you will start to brainstorm solutions for the top one or two problems you have decided to focus on. By the end of this lesson you will be able to select some possible solutions that can help solve your chosen problem.


Understanding types of solutions

Let’s consider again 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.


As you brainstorm solutions, think about the types of innovations that are possible: Improve, Reduce the cost, Educate, Apply, Invent. What type of innovation do you think is needed for your problems from these categories?


Once again, remember these tips for good group 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. 


Then check the scale of your solution ideas by asking these questions about each:

  • Does the solution try to solve part of a really big problem?
Room for Innovation

Once you have a lot of ideas of how to solve your problem, you should start thinking about which solution would be the best created with a mobile app and/or Artificial intelligence (AI) and which ones are innovative. Some of your ideas might already include a mobile app, AI, both, or neither. Think about all of your ideas and try to come up with ways to take advantage of the capabilities of a mobile app or possibly artificial intelligence.

Here are some examples:

Potential Solution How to make it better with a mobile app or AI
Help the city figure out which trash cans should be emptied more often Ask people who live in your community to take a picture and tag the location of overflowing trash cans. This information will be sent directly to the city for them to come empty the trash can
Add bigger trash cans
Give out tickets for leaving large items on the street
Start a community club that cleans up the streets on Sundays to help people feel more involved Create an app that lets people connect who want to start their own clean up groups
Make it easier for people to get rid of these items by starting a service that will come pick them up at people’s homes Use a mobile app for your service for people to call you directly and send you a picture of what they need you to pick up
Put up posters asking people not to throw trash on the ground
Get the city to put in more trash cans Set up an app that lets people donate money to the city to get more trash cans in their neighborhood
Create an AI model that learns when trash cans are filled (e.g time of week, after big events) Use trash pickup data to learn when certain areas will need trash removal

As you can see, not all of the solutions you think of will be made better by creating a mobile app or AI. For instance, creating an app for people to donate money to the city might not be the best use of your time. There are already a lot of websites you can use that will already do that. Additionally, designing a bigger trash can that can hold more trash does not necessarily need to make a mobile app.

Are you ready to select your problems and solutions? Move on to the activity section.

Activity: Brainstorming Solutions

Part 1:

  1. Write these categories on a board (real or virtual):
    • Improve (Improve something that already exists
    • Reduce the cost (Reduce the cost of something that already exists)
    • Educate (Raise awareness and drive changes in people’s behavior) 
    • Apply (Apply an existing approach to a new situation or combine already existing elements)
    • Invent (Invent a completely new solution, technology, or way of doing things)
  2. For each of your top problems, take a few minutes to brainstorm types of innovations that could help solve your problems from these categories. Write down your solution ideas under the proper category.

Part 2:

Selecting solutions

  1. Select a few of your team’s favorite solutions. To check the scale of each solution, ask these questions:
    • Does the solution try to solve part of a really big problem?
    • Can you find 3 existing companies or solutions that are doing the same type of thing as your solution?
      • If yes, how will your solution be different and innovative?
    • Are you keeping the user, aka the person or people whom the problem affects, in mind?
    • Is it a mobile app and/or use AI?
      • Can the solution leverage the features of mobile phones, such as GPS, accelerometer, camera, etc?  If it does not, try thinking of how you could make it using a mobile app.
      • Can your solution use the immense capabilities of Artificial Intelligence such as image recognition, speech recognition, or text-to-speech? 
  2. Once you have at least three ideas that your team thinks solve the problem, meet your user’s needs, is innovative in some way, and makes good use of AI such as image and speech recognition, or mobile phone features such as GPS, accelerometer, camera, etc., then move on to the next ideation lesson.

Hear from advice from Technovation Girls alumnae on how to join or form your own team!


Congratulations! Now that you have identified a solution to your problem, you can move onto Ideation lesson 7 and Ideation lesson 8, to complete market research about your idea and to write a problem statement. Your idea will probably change as you do this program, you might end up with an app that looks completely different than what you are envisioning now. Don’t worry, this is all a part of the ideation process!

  • What problem and solution will you focus on?
  • What are some problems that your team has identified that can NOT be addressed by an app or AI solution?
  • How will your solution be innovative?

Your idea will probably change as you go through this program, you might end up with an app or AI project that looks completely different from what you are envisioning now. Don’t worry, this is all a part of the ideation process!

Additional Resources

Example Technovation Girls Apps

Here are some examples of Apps that solve problems relating to trash and trash disposal.

Eedo  by The Cantavits

81% of people dispose of e-waste improperly, which results in toxic fumes and polluted water. Eedo is an Android app solution that provides an end-to-end connection between e-waste producers and authorized recyclers.

ZeroWaste (0 Waste) by 3BigTomatoes

ZeroWaste provides a simple way to help people recognize different types of waste in their home and how to recycle, reuse, and reduce them properly. It provides pictures, videos and games to help people, especially children and new comers with language limits, to understand local waste collecting rules, and also promote the awareness of "0 waste" to protect our environment. It can be used in different cities and by everyone. It's fun and educational, and most importantly, it's free!

Discardious by Team Charis

Discardious is an app that helps to solve the problem of improper waste disposal in Nigeria. When using the app, users can elect a location using Google Map to get started. The app allows them to either report a hazard in their environment or request a mobile cart to pick up their waste.