Get Started on Your D.I.Y. Project: Brainstorm and Prototype!
As winter approaches and the days get darker and colder, there’s no better time to huddle up indoors...and get to work on your D.I.Y. Project with your fellow MOUSE Squad Members!
(If you need some background on the D.I.Y. Contest, you can see the last Wire post on this topic here.)
Before you can begin building an incredible new product, you need to start with the basics by answering questions like, “What will it do?” and “Who would use this, and why would they need it?” (If your question is "What is the goal of the D.I.Y. Project?" then you should probably read this!)
Next Steps for a Great D.I.Y. Project
- Brainstorm a great idea!
- Prototype some ways you might create a D.I.Y. Project that will make your great idea a reality!
- Submit your Prototyping Form with all the great ideas your Squad is working on! (Submitting this form is the first step towards winning the Show Your Work Award!)
Getting a good brainstorm going can be difficult--where do you begin? One way you might get started is by creating a word cloud. There’s a free online tool you can use for this: www.wordle.net. You type in a list of words, and the words that come up more often show up as bigger, while the words you don’t use as much are smaller.
For example, if you enter the lyrics to The Beatles’ song “Yellow Submarine,” here is what the word cloud looks like:
This tells us that some of the key elements of this song are “submarine” and “yellow,” and that other important parts include “we,” “all,” and “live.” If everyone in your MOUSE Squad wrote down a few words about the kind of D.I.Y. project they wanted to create and everybody’s words were entered into a Wordle, the biggest words would be the ones that came up the most often, which could help your Squad figure out what some of your key ideas are.
Another tactic you can use to get some ideas going is a good old-fashioned brainstorm, where your group works together to come up with a bunch of ideas before you decide which one you're going to make. Before you start, check out these rules of brainstorming.
Prototyping is the process of creating and testing versions of your invention, all the way from the very first doodle to the finished product that you share with the world. Prototypes don't have to be fancy, especially not at first. In fact, the first prototypes of the Concorde--a super-fast passenger jet--looked like this:
You use these simple models to plan, figure out what your mistakes might be and how to correct them, and build towards a final product that solves the problem you were trying to solve AND can be used by the people who need it.
When you and your Squad have some ideas about what you're going to make and how you're going to do it, you're ready for the next step: fill out the Prototyping Form, and get started with your prototypes!