Micro Challenge #26 – Identifying opportunities using Ideation Squares

3 June 2020 - 3 minute read

Welcome to the twenty-sixth of Altitude Foundation’s #MicroChallenges2020

Today’s challenge will expand your understanding of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and its benefits!

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.

Over the next few weeks, we are running a series of guest challenges, put together by our friend at Newcastle University Open Lab, Megan Venn-Wycherly. You can learn more about her work here and OpenLab here

These challenges work as stand-alone challenges and also as a mini-course which builds together. The first in the series can be found here.

Micro Challenge #26

Today’s challenge is to create your own ‘Ideation Square’. Sometimes it can be hard to think of ideas from nowhere. HCI researchers use this technique  to help them think of ideas for projects. 

But first, let’s create an example Ideation Square together: 

  • Start by drawing a 4×4 grid
  • Pick 4 different colours
  • Each colour will be its own category – for example, Users; Technology; Activity; Place
  • Colour code each block following this rule
  • Now fill in each square with an example of the category – for example for users, you might put: Primary school children, Sixth formers, older adults, under 21s; for technology, you might put app, micro:bits, Raspberry Pi etc
  • Now each row and column will give you an idea….See our example, here. What project could you create around older adults, VR, shopping and home?
  • Some ideas might not seem to work at first, but it’s your chance to be creative and think if there’s an opportunity highlighted by the row or column. For example, – maybe create an educational tool to teach younger people about safe online shopping?

The Challenge:

To make your own Ideation Square, start by selecting a topic area from Education, Health, Environmental Sustainability, or Social Wellbeing, and then follow the model above to help explore your selected topic area. 

This work will form a good basis for the prototype you can develop later in this series of challenges.

Review it:

Once you have made your square, and explored the different rows/columns, you can use the row or column that most inspired you to answer::

  • What does your project do?
  • How does your idea help others?


  • Consider: what kind of technology does it need? What kind of skills do you think you’d need to create this technology?
  • Share your ideas with Megan @Mwycher on Twitter for feedback and tips on how to take your challenge further. 

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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