Capstone Project: Ideation

Objectives and Overview

Now that you’ve selected a project idea, it’s time to begin brainstorming about how you’ll make it! This is the time for quickly creating several different ideas for how you’d like to solve the problem you identified during Discovery. By the end of this phase, you’ll have identified a single idea to move forward to the Prototyping and Making phase.

Lesson Objectives

  • Begin brainstorming ways that you’ll create your project
  • Explore and document different variations for how you’d make your project
  • Select one variation to move forward with and document your vision


Ideation is a term used a lot in a lot of design and project creation. Basically, ideation is the process of coming up with different ideas. The ideas that you come up with during this stage should be connected to solving the problem identified during Discovery.

There are a number of ways that you can approach ideation. Sketching, brainstorming, and thinking out loud are all acceptable. The key takeaway is that you have your ideas documented somewhere so that you can reference them.

Coming Up With Three Approaches

Open the Google Document you created during the Discovery phase and add a new section titled “Ideation.” This is where you’ll want to put your ideas.

Your ideas don’t need to be incredibly detailed at this point. However, make sure that they connect to the need/idea you identified during the Discovery phase.

Jot down three approaches in this section. Let’s take a look at a quick example.

Example: Sarah’s Capstone Project

At the end of the Discovery phase, Sarah decides that she wants to work on a capstone project that includes 3D printing, Scratch, and the Makey Makey. She asked herself a series of questions and determined that these are the Maker Foundations skill areas she liked best and wants to combine them together.

  • This decision is Sarah’s problem statement and will now inform the approaches generated during Ideation

Sarah starts brainstorming and sketching and comes up with three ways that she can combine these skill areas. She adds each of these ideas into her notebook/document and is now ready to move to the next step where she selects one approach to move forward with.

There Can Only Be One!

While it’s great to have several approaches and ideas, you have to consider the amount of time you have to actually create your project. For this reason, you’ll need to distill your three approaches into one. This is a hard process, especially when you’re feeling connected to your ideas.

This is an area that many designers and professional makers experience. There are some tools and tactics you can use to help you along decide. Let’s look at a few.

{Youth-friendly activity for selecting a single idea}

By the end of this activity, you’ll have selected one approach selected to move forward with.

Zany Eights

Now that you’ve identified your main idea from many possibilities, it’s time to expand again and think through some variations on your main approach. This is to help make sure that you’re not missing any possibilities before moving forward with a clear plan.

{Include a youth-friendly version of Crazy Eights that avoids the word “crazy”}

Moving Forward

At this point, you have a clear idea and you’ve thought through several variations. You now should be confident that you’re moving forward with a clear vision for your project.

Now that you have this defined, be sure to include a list of materials and equipment you will need for your project. Be as detailed and thorough as you can!

Make sure to identify your approach and add these details to your Google Document. You’re now ready to move into the Prototyping and Making phase!