Second, another goal of meeting with the team was to specifically help them realize the problem that they were proposing to use as a challenge project. In particular, to find those problems that were undoable and help them understand that they needed to refocus their problem and choose another one.
1) Tell me what your project is. 2) Let me see if I can write this down. 3) Let me see if I can describe this project in terms of steps, with the idea that all of the steps together will produce the product. 4) Can you tell me what the "answer" to the project will look like? 5) Can you draw me a picture of what you project looks like? 6) Can you draw me a picture of what the result of your project will look like? 7) Describe your Challenge poster to me. 8) How will you know when you have an "answer"? 9) How will you know when you're finished? 10) Can you guess at what the hardest part of the project is going to be? 11) Do you know if this is a problem that has been addressed by someone else? (industry, scientist, college, public group, ...) 12) Do you know where to find information about this problem? 13) Can you identify what important pieces of information you will need to know to answer your problem? 14) Tell me about how you are going to go about finding the answer to your problem. 15) Is your "answer" in terms of a number, a bunch of numbers, a graph (2D or 3D), a statement, a series of pictures, or what? 16) Have you discussed the problem with your teacher, coach, advisor? 17) What will your computer code look like to answer this problem? Can you imagine what it will look like? 18) Tell me what the input to your code will look like. Tell me what the output of your code will look like. 19) How big do you imagine that your code will be (number of lines; number of modules)? 20) Do you know who to go to to get help? 21) Are you aware of how to search on the web? find information at the Library? contact a University professor? 22) Can you sketch out the sequence of actions that will take your problem statement and provide a solution? 23) What do you think a picture of your computer code would look like? 24) Imagine that you're writing your final report. What does it look like? What're the major things that you will be saying, and why should I believe you if I was a judge? 25) Have you thought about your project in terms of presenting the results to the panel of judges? 25.1) How do you think that you would know that your answer is right? 25.2) How do you think that you would know that your answer is wrong? 25.3) How do you think that you would be able to tell the difference? 25.4) Can you imagine what a "wrong answer" would look like? 25.5) Describe to me some ways of doing things that would lead to a wrong answer? 25.6) Tell me what things might happen in finding a solution for your problem that would tell you that you're working too hard, or working the wrong way, or working the wrong problem? 25.7) Tell me what things would tell you that you're working OK? 25.8) Are there steps along the way in your project where you could actually tell if you're on the right track or not? 25.9) What are some simple "tests" for your computer code, to see if it's doing what you think that it's doing? (this is my lecture on programming style) One specific area is how to focus the problem 26) Is this problem doable, by you, by April? That is, can we guess at how much time it will take to learn the tools, the knowledge, and the problem, divide it up into stages, and then answer each stage? Then add in the writing of the report and the preparation of a poster. Are you capable of learning the knowledge and tools involved? 27) Is there a way to make the problem easier without losing the content (this is my lecture on how to make simplifying assumptions)? 28) Is there anything that you can do in the beginning that will make the problem easier to solve? 29) Is there a part of this problem that would be as interesting, but would require a lot less work? 30) Imagine a simple answer to this problem. Is there a way to change the question so that it provides that simple an answer? If the problem is unworkable 31) Well, gee, is there anything else that you guys are interested in?