Micro Challenge #7 – Using decomposition to solve a problem

20 April 2020 - 3 minute read

Welcome to the seventh of Altitude Foundation’s #MicroChallenges2020 

In today’s challenge, we break a problem down into smaller parts to identify which aspect of the problem we should tackle to get a preferred solution.

What’s a Micro Challenge?

These challenges are short activities to help you develop, revise or refresh your coding skills, posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Micro Challenge #7

This week, our focus is on problem solving. This may not seem immediately linked to coding; however, problem solving is a key part of a programmer’s role. They need to be able to break problems into smaller problems (sometimes called decomposition). They can then identify the best place to implement a solution to tackle the overall problem – or, potentially, the best places!

Exploring Digital Solutions:

Today’s challenge is all about imagination and problem solving. 

  • Set a timer for 30 seconds. In those 30 seconds, write down as many problems facing you as you can come up with. This could be anything from getting up in the morning to climate change (and everything in between).
  • Choose one of the problems you have  written down. Now break the problem into parts. For example: 
    • Problem: when the bus is late, I am late to school
      • Part 1: If buses are unreliable you are more likely to need to take an earlier bus
      • Part 2: That means having to leave earlier and having less time in bed and/or to get ready
      • Part 3: If you get to school late, you will get in trouble
      • Part 4. If you are tired/unprepared, you are less likely to get the most out of learning
  • Have a look at your breakdown. Is there any point in the problem that it might make most sense to find a solution?
  • Now: spend 10 minutes coming up with a hypothetical digital/tech solution to your problem. Make it as wild and as detailed as you like. For example: an app which jams the wheels on the bus at your bus stop – meaning you can catch the bus when you are ready!

Review it

Once you’ve completed the challenge, review it:

— Is there any other point where you might be able to ‘solve’ the problem?

— What solutions might be best done ‘digitally’? Are there any solutions you could create that wouldn’t need a digital element? 


  • Could you write up a sales pitch for your solution? Why is it the best solution for the problem? Might it be useful for other people as well?

Share it

We would love to see what you have created! Please send any pictures, videos, or files of your activities to us – either via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram  using #MicroChallenges2020 or to challenges@altitudefoundation.org. If you are emailing them to us, please let us know if you are happy for us to share your stuff on our social media platforms (with credit, of course). 

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