Solving problems

Home learning focus

Learn about problem solving in design.

This lesson includes:

  • two video clips demonstrating how designers work

  • two activities to try at home


Watch this short film from the programme 'The Big Life Fix'.

In the film, two designers work to develop assistive technology to help Ian, who has cerebral palsy, sail independently.

Engineer, Ryan White, and experience designer, Ruby Steele, develop an idea to help Ian sail a boat using just his eyes.

Watch the film to learn how designers research and develop a new product.

How designers approach a challenge

Key design considerations

When starting a design process it is usual to have a brief and product specification.


This is where you set out clearly in a short statement the problem you are working to address and how you intend to solve it.


This is a list of the key points a product must meet or include in order to be satisfactory, eg when designing a kettle, it must be able to heat water to the desired temperature and be safe to use.

Other considerations can include the cost or manufacturing process.

Modelling at development stage

When designing something new it is important to consider a variety of things, such as what else is on the market, the brief and specification and the manufacturing process.

In this film, designer Alexander Taylor explains the process he went through to design and develop his 'Fold Lamp'.

This is a good example of modelling at the development stage and the importance of following a clear brief.

Designing a lamp

The film you have just watched shows the design processes used for the lamps and how they can be tested and modified.

Designers will often evaluate existing designs to consider new issues or needs.


Now why not try and put some of what you have learned about problem solving into action?

Activity 1

Take this short test from SAM Learning to refresh yourself on the key points you have just learned about briefs and specifications.

Select the design brief and specification activity

Activity 2

In this activity from Science Museum Group you can try your building skills at home.

Build a dome out of straws and consider how it has been designed to be sturdy and how it could be made larger.

Try this activity

Where next?

Continue your learning with these links

Stem Learning: Sports car specialist

Stem Learning: Born to engineer

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

Bitesize Daily lessons
GCSE Design and Technology
BBC Teach Design & Technology