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Lesson 4:  Define a Problem

Task 1: Define a Problem

As we have gone through our unit, you have been investigating problems you would like to solve and recording them on your Things that Bug Me log and Rings of Impact map.  Evaluate them and choose one problem you are passionate about that you would like to solve.

Do not worry about the solution at this time - you are just focusing on the problem.

Task 2: Research the Problem

Problem = Mosquitos

They bite you - it hurts

Make you itch

Carry diseases

Very annoying/noisy



Continue to research the problem you selected.  As you research, you will learn more about the specific sub problems associated with your topic - list these on a sheet of paper.  The more you research, the more you will learn.  Identify one specific problem that you would like to solve.

Mosquitos Carry Diseases

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Using the Potential Solutions Mindmap, you will do the following:

1. Identify a specific problem you would like to solve.

2. Research your problem and identify 4 general solutions.

3. Continue researching and writing down what solutions are already invented to solve the specific problem.

4. Add any unique ideas you have to solve the problem

Note:  Your final solution will likely be a combination of these solutions.

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It can often be difficult to come up with new ideas when you're trying to develop or improve a product or process. This is where creative brainstorming techniques like SCAMPER can help. This tool helps you generate ideas for new products and services by encouraging you to think about how you could improve existing ones.


SCAMPER is a mnemonic that stands for:​

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You use the tool by asking questions about existing products, using each of the seven prompts above. These questions help you come up with creative ideas for developing new products, and for improving current ones.



SCAMPER is really easy to use!

First, take an existing product or service. This could be one that you want to improve, one that you're currently having problems with, or one that you think could be a good starting point for future development.


Then, ask questions about the product you identified, using the mnemonic to guide you. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can.


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Extension Activity

Use the Lesson 4 Plastic Bag Reflection & SCAMPER handout to complete a reflection using this quote:

“People thought I was too young and that women couldn’t be leaders.  I took these things as challenges; they gave me more power.  I didn’t call out the problems – I called out solutions.”              --Isatou Ceesay

One Plastic Bag Read-Along
  • What problem did Isatou observe in her community?  How is this an example of empathy?

  • How did she demonstrate creative thinking in her solution?
  • How did she incorporate other people (team members) in her solution?
  • Was her solution (crocheted plastic bag baskets) marketable?

  • Do only people in Gambia experience the problem of plastic bags or do other parts of the world experience it?

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Click on documents to access files

Examples of empathy and creative problem solving can be found among all nations, races, genders and ages.  Meet teen inventor Alexis Lewis:
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