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and Develop a Problem Statement

Lesson 6: Evaluate Your Idea...

Based on the commercial, what do you think this product does?

Click & Read
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Read page 1 of the Design Problem Statements article.

Writing a Problem Statement


A large team of engineers created this as a solution to some problem that existed. 

What is one possible problem statement from which they could have been working?”

Click & Read
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Task 1: Apply the 4 W's

Each person in your group will take 4 post-it notes and label them as shown above.  Refer to the information you have collected from your research and interviews, and answer each question on the appropriate post-it:

Who?  Explain who is experiencing the problem. Be as specific as possible.
For example, don’t say just “students”, but “high school students who do not have access to lockers.”

What?   What are the difficulties? What needs to be accomplished? What needs to be relieved? 
Example: Carrying heavy book bags causes back and shoulder problems.

Where?   Where is the physical location the problem occurs?
Example: Travelling from home to school or throughout the school.

Why?   Why does it matter? What value does it bring? Example: This can cause serious health problems that can continue throughout  a lifetime if not corrected

After everyone in the group is finished, your group will spend 10 minutes comparing and discussing post-it notes  As a group,  complete the Lesson 6 4W's Group Evaluation. This will go in your Log Book.

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Task 2: Move Forward or Pivot?

Don’t Fall in Love With Your Idea...


It is time for your team to evaluate the information you have learned about your problem and current solutions from Google/Amazon searches and Interviews.  Use the  Move Forward or Pivot?  handout to evaluate your problem.  Explain WHY you feel your problem is on track to move forward or if you need to pivot.  This is a critical point in the process. 



Move Forward: Go to Task 3 to create your problem statement.



Outline the specific with what areas that need to be adapted in order to make your idea more effective.  Use the chart below to help you guide your team towards a better problem to solve.


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Task 3: Create Your Problem Statement
Click & Read

Your group is now ready to create a  good problem statement.  Your teacher will check on you during this process to answer questions and be sure you are on the right track.

Examples of problem statements from the article:

  • I am a high school student trying to carry all of my books and supplies in a backpack, but this is causing pain in my back and shoulder because it is so heavy, which makes me feel frustrated.

  • Students need a way to have all of their school books and supplies available without using heavy backpacks because this endangers the health of their backs and shoulders.

  • Our students have a problem in that they have back and shoulder pain when they carry their books and supplies to, from, and throughout school in heavy backpacks. Our solution should provide a way to have all supplies whenever needed in a way that will eliminate back and shoulder problems.


Complete Lesson 6:  Move Forward or Pivot? Organizer, ending with a problem statement.

Complete Lesson 6: Extended Research

Now that your group has created a problem statement, you need good background knowledge of detailed information regarding your problem.  This will be collected at our next class.

1.  Split up the 4 W's.  One person will research "Who", one person "What", and one person "Where". (We will discuss the Why at the next class).


2. Find and cite 3-5 articles, studies, etc., that provide detailed information for the area you are researching. The more you are able to quantify information (provide numbers), the better.  If you have access to a printer, you should print what you find and add it to your Logbook for reference later.

  • Who? Use the Lesson 4 Empathy Map to fully describe your users.  Cite articles, studies, etc that state how many people have this problem, and list who all will benefit from a solution.

  • What? Find out how often the problem has occurred and how often it has caused bad outcomes. Research  how other inventions have attempted to address the problem, and explain why they have not been effective.

  • Where? Research and provide pertinent facts about the location where the problem is located. How many locations are there? What about the location that makes the problem prevalent there? 

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