Helen Foster, Truc Ly, & Isabella Baladez
When working in the Makerspace, there are many difficult problems to solve, which is why there has to be creative people like us to solve them. Projects and expectations are thrown at us all the time, and it’s our job to come up with a solution. For many of us, the most difficult part of any of this is brainstorming ideas. We constantly are required to think and use all of our brains to come up with new ideas and innovations.
“Whenever I sit down and try to think, my mind goes completely blank! It’s strange because as I go through everyday life, I’ll have ideas for something I could do or make, but when I actually try to come up with ideas, I can’t think of any at all, I think one of the main causes of this struggle is pressure.” -Kai Bovik
It’s really hard to think under pressure, especially when you have to try to do something super fast. Not all of the ideas you come up with are usable, and the ones you do like may be too complicated or ineffective. Once you come up with an idea you use and start executing it, you begin to think of other things you could have done and how you could improve whatever it is you’re trying to do. It’s all about getting your brain going and in the mood to work and design.
This problem can be overcome, though. There’s always a plan or idea in the back of your mind somewhere you can use to make something amazing, but first we have to figure out how to find it.
For our first project, we were simply given a problem and some basic instructions on the process we should go through to solve it. We had to figure out what we were going to do to solve it and how to execute our plan. The first step in this process was to create a design brief. These are extremely helpful when you’re trying to come up with an idea, because they put all of the basic information you need in one place. They make you think about the little things, too. Who’s our client? What are we going to be turning in? When is it due? Answering all of these things will help significantly in the long run for each project. After finishing this, we needed to start brainstorming solutions.
In the scenario we were given, a cat was stuck in a 10 ft deep hole, and we had to find a way to get it out. While brainstorming, we wrote down every idea we had, even the most ridiculous and unreasonable ones. Some of the things we came up with were so bad we would sit and laugh at the stupidity. This is still all part of the process, though. To come up with something good, you have to start with something bad and work from there. If you really want to come up with something good, think about other products that are used to do something similar to what you’re trying to do. For example, we had to get something out of a deep hole. What’s another tool used to do this? A well, so we thought of a similar invention that could be used to get a cat out rather than water.
Once you’ve put out any and all ideas you have, draw them in a design matrix. This is a very helpful tool that helps you think about the pros and cons of all of your thoughts. Include anything you’ve thought of there, it doesn’t matter if they may work or are useless, it’s important to think about everything. Make sure you do include some of your thoughts that might actually work, though, or your final product won’t exactly be very helpful. This design is for another person, not just your own, so don’t be too crazy, because your ideas suppose to relate to the design or problem statement. When they’re all written down, come up with categories you want to test the usefulness of each product by. For ours, we included variables such as cost, safety, durability, reliability, and time. Each of these is a factor that should be thought about when choosing a final product.
Collaborate with a group to help generate conversations about your ideas & get second opinions to improve your products. It also helps to get a few outside point of views from people outside of who you’re working with, because sometimes you get so
caught up in what you’re doing and you don’t take the time to see the big picture and how everything you’re doing fits together. If you really need to get brainstorming and your mind is blank, just start a conversation. You never know how the simplest idea can generate the best results.