Free Activity: Creative Brainstorming Strategy for Students
Giving students voice and choice through project- or problem-based learning, Genius Hour, or design challenges are an effective way to engage them in dynamic and deep learning that focuses on process as well as content. However, we as educators often find students have difficulty brainstorming a topic, question, or idea.
To help students ideate, we offer an alternative to the good ol’ fashioned brainstorming called reverse brainstorming, taken from VentureLab’s entrepreneurship curriculum!
Entrepreneurs in all fields use brainstorming techniques whenever they need new ideas related to any aspect of entrepreneurial activity, such as product development, concept improvement, and, in particular, problem solving. They often have “thought partners” or “sounding boards” which are people that help them think through ideas.
Entrepreneurial Mindset and Skills
This activity teaches idea generation, an important skill that helps students cultivate the following entrepreneurial mindsets:
• Problem solving: Proactively develop opportunities and find creative solutions to challenges.
• Opportunity seeking: Actively observe, identify, and act on circumstances where you can innovate or solve a problem.
• Courage: Step out of your comfort zone and make your ideas known to accomplish great things.
These mindsets come from VentureLab’s entrepreneurship curriculum!
Activity: Reverse Brainstorming
1. Explain to students that they will generate ideas using a new brainstorming technique called reverse brainstorming.
2. Instead of trying to solve a problem, they are going to make it worse! For example, if students were trying to generate ideas on how to get to school on time – they would switch it around and ask how can they can make sure they are never on time or always late!
3. Form groups. (GroupUp!, found in every VentureLab elementary lesson, is a helpful resource to form groups.)
4. Allow groups to spread out and write on windows, large sheets of paper, use sticky notes, or other ways of getting them out their desks.
5. Choose a topic/question for brainstorming and write it on the board (you can use the same topic as before or move onto a different topic).
6. Give the group an initial 6-7 minutes for reverse brainstorming – then feel free to extend by another 3-4 minutes if the groups are still working well.
7. Stop the groups and ask them to go over their ideas and reverse them back into solutions. As they do this, it may generate more than one way to reverse it and they should record everything that they come up with.
Reverse Brainstorming Discussion
• What were the benefits of trying to making the problem worse?
• How could they use this approach for brainstorming and problem solving at school/at home?
• How do they think entrepreneurs use this technique? Were there any issues with the technique? Why?
Seeing things from a different perspective can open up new opportunities.
This is often a great technique for businesses – they can try to identify all the things that make a service experience or use of a product worse for the customer – often recognizing what they are doing that makes things worse is a great start to problem solving and improving.
Extension or Homework
Ask each student to choose their own problem to work on (especially if they have one that they feel stuck for ideas on) and give students the opportunity to spend time using these idea generation techniques.
Enjoy this activity? VentureLab offers free entrepreneurship curriculum for elementary up to high school. Check out our curriculum here to help spread the entrepreneurial mindset across the globe!