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Designing solutions

See what you can build using online design tools and come up with creative solutions.

You will need

  • Access to a computer
  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • You may want to run this activity alongside another building oriented activity.
    Wheely good models gives instructions on designing and making model vehicles.
    Robot runway gives instructions on designing and making a robot.
    How does your garden grow gives instructions on creating a home for a garden creature.
  • Select which digital design tool you want to use. We have included a list of free online design tools at the bottom of this page. Make sure you have tested the tool before bringing it to the session to make sure it works and so you can guide the participants when they come to building their designs.

Exploring the problem

  1. The person leading the activity should introduce a problem that participants will be solving with their design. Some examples are:

- A way of transporting people from one place to another.
- A way of communicating remotely with other people.
- A way of carrying items around.

  1. Everyone should be placed into pairs. Whatever problem they have been given, they are designing the solution with their partner as the intended user.
  2. In their pairs, participants should ask questions to understand how best to meet their partner’s needs. We have included some example questions below:

- What do they need the final product to achieve?
- How do they currently solve that problem in their life?
- What difficulties do they currently have in solving that problem in their life?
- What do they enjoy about the current solution they use?

  1. Everyone should highlight or circle any important information that they have discovered and will need to use in their final design.

Designing the solution

  1. Everyone should have a clean sheet of paper and think of as many solutions as possible. The person leading the activity should encourage participants to be as detailed or vague as they like.
  2. Everyone should choose their favourite solution and draw a sketch of it.
  3. The person leading the activity should have a digital design tool set up on a computer for participants to use. Explain that participants will be using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to build a digital 3D version of their design.


This activity needed everyone to use their critical thinking. Designing is a great way to practice understanding problems, thinking about all the options available and then finding a solution. This activity helped everyone to develop their creative, inventing and design skills when using the CAD software too.

Did anyone have any problems when they were making their 3D design? What did they do to solve the problems? It can be frustrating when things don’t go quite right, so it’s great if people kept going and gave it another go.

Everyone had a user in mind when making their design. What does everyone think of the designs that were made with them in mind? Would this be something that they would use? Has the designer clearly thought about their needs when designing their product?

People should take it in turns to share what they enjoyed most about this activity. Their answers may include using their imagination, turning their ideas into a reality, finding out more about their partner or listening other people’s ideas.

Now that everyone’s had a turn at using their imaginations and using their computer design skills, who knows what they’ll be able to do next!

Everyone should think about when else it’s helpful to be able to use your imagination to build and fix things. Were there any other designs that they came up with that they would also like to build on the 3D software?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts