Step 1: Blended Brainstorming
Great start, you have formed your team. Now the first step that you and your team
should complete is to do some brainstorming. What are you brainstorming? You need to
identify the national or local environmental issue that your enviro-hack will address. The
first step to finding a solution, is to define the problem! In your team, conduct a short
group brainstorming activity, where you each think of national or local environmental
issues that are affecting Ireland. All you need for this is some pens and paper, and a space
where you can think freely. Issues you could target may include food waste, water quality,
inadequate recycling facilities, increased risk of flooding, threats to local biodiversity – the
list is endless. The key with brainstorming is that there are no bad ideas, so when you
think of ‘climate change in Ireland’ or ‘pollution in Ireland’, jot down all of the problems
that come to mind. You can decide to discard some of these issues and problems in the
next step. For some advice on good techniques for a group brainstorming session, check
out the following links, or conduct your own research online about different ways to
brainstorm – why not try and see if some music will help to enhance your brainstorming!
Now that you have completed the first part of your brainstorming activity, you may find
that there are some issues you are very familiar with, and others which you need some
more information on to fully understand. This is why it is now important that you and
your teammates conduct some ‘online brainstorming’. By this we mean, that you each
take a topic from the list of issue you have compiled, and spend the next 15 minutes
researching online, and finding as much information as you can about that topic. After 15
minutes, your whole group should get back together and share with one another what
you have found. For tips on how to conduct accurate and specific Google searches, the
following links are a god starting point:
If you need a little guidance on where to start with researching the environmental issues
that are currently facing Ireland, and those which we will face in the future, the following
links serve as a good starting point for your research:
Step 2: Assigning Roles
Well done, you have completed some blended brainstorming and now you are ready to
develop your idea a little further. In this step, you will first choose the issue that you will
address. For this, you and your teammates will need to evaluate the quality of your ideas,
and to decipher which ideas are going to be most realistic for you to develop a ‘hack’ or
solution, to address. In this step, you and your team also need to decide whether you will
design your hack to have a local or a national focus? And to determine why you have
chosen this focus for your hack – this will all be useful information to have in mind when
you go to develop your pitch later on! For now, you need to narrow down your list of
issues, to just one. For this task, you might consider using an idea evaluation matrix or
you and your group can complete a short idea validation exercise. These are simple tables
that you can complete to screen the quality, relevance and creativity of your ideas. This
could be a difficult task – to pick just one idea - but the following links will help you to
complete some guided idea evaluation and validation activities:
Great job, now that you have selected which issue your enviro-hack is going to address,
your next step is to unpack this issue further, and for this you need to assign some roles in
your group. In order to find a workable solution that will address this issue, you need to
understand it fully, and this requires more research! In your team, try to identify four
different aspects of the issue you have uncovered, that may yield ideas for possible
solutions you can develop. Then, assign one topic to each member of your team, and take
45-60 minutes working independently to examine this aspect of the issue. Identify the
factors that contribute to this issue, and research for solutions that others have already
tried and tested to address the issue. At the end of this solo research, don’t be surprised if
you and your team will have a lot of data to sift through!
Step 3: Developing your Hack
Your team are doing great, you are ready to start the exciting step: designing a hack or
solution that you can use to address the issue you have chosen to focus on! This is one of
the longer steps in the process. Here, you need to discuss with your teammates the
outcomes of everyone’s solo research. For this, we recommend that each team member
get 5-10 minutes to present and discuss what they have uncovered in their research, this
will help to bring the rest of the group up to speed. When each of you have finished with
your presentations to each other, hold a short debrief of 3-5 minutes after each
presentation to think of what could be done to address the issues that your research has
uncovered. What solutions can you find? Write down some bullet points from each of the
four de-briefing sessions.
After you have all had the opportunity to present and discuss your findings, you need to
repeat the activities from steps 1 and 2. Take the bullet points as your starting point;
brainstorm solutions that could address the different aspects of the issue at hand, and
then evaluate the solutions that you have generated to see which would be most
effective, realistic and also achieve the greatest impact in addressing your environmental
For your idea evaluation activity this time, you may wish to use some alternative
evaluation techniques. The following links will present you with some alternative activities
that work well with a small group:
When you have completed this lengthy step and evaluated all ideas you have come up
with, you and your team should finally have selected the solution that you and your team
will present in your pitch to the Enviro-hackathon. This step might take a lot of time, but it
is key to having the winning pitch at the Hackathon!
Step 4: Planning your 5-minute Pitch
Congratulations for making it this far! The next step is for you and your team is to prepare
your pitch for the Hackathon! The first decision you need to make is who will deliver your
pitch? Will it be one or two people form your group, or do you each want to share the
allocated 5-minutes you have been given so everyone can contribute? Discuss it now in
your group and make a decision together. Remember that you only have 5 minutes to
deliver your pitch! You should aim to deliver your pitch as close to 5-minutes as possible,
but make sure that you are not 1 second over the time limit, as you will be cut off by the
judges and you may fail to land your crucial closing points.
When developing your pitch, you and your team will need to cover the following
The environmental issue in question.
The scope of the issue – local or national?
Your motivation and rationale for choosing to address this issue.
The solution you propose to address this issue.
The environmental and societal impact that you expect your solution will have.
What evidence you have found to support this intended impact.
The approximate costs associated with implementing this solution.
A timeline for developing a pilot project to adopt and test this solution.
This is a lot of content to cover in just a 5-minute pitch, so you will need to work as a team
to write a pitch that is concise and succinct. For this, ensure that you do not include any
unnecessary information that will distract from the key points you want to raise. You may
decide to create a set of presentation slides, called a pitch deck, to accompany your pitch,
if so, the following links can help you to develop attractive and engaging slides:
Remember, this is a competitive pitch and you want to win, so make your pitch as strong
and motivational as possible. For some tips on how to develop a winning pitch, the
following links will be a good starting point for some research:
You may even decide to take a more creative approach with your pitch and to produce a
short video that will present your pitch to the panel of judges. This will work particularly
well if you are proposing a solution to a local environmental problem, and you can show
footage of the impact that the problem is having in your community. If you decide to
choose this format for your pitch, the following links will help you to produce and edit a
high-quality video on your phone:
Whichever format you decide, the key to a good pitch is to practice the delivery. Once you
have developed your pitch, make sure you write it out in full, practice giving the speech
and remember to time yourself!
Step 5: Deliver your Pitch to the Panel
Congratulations to you and your team, you have reached pitch day at the Hackathon!
Now all that’s left is for your team to deliver your pitch. However you decide to deliver
your pitch, we wish you the best of luck with it! To ensure that you deliver the pitch as
best you can, the following links will help you to practice your public speaking: