Engage your students in an exciting STEM Week Challenge: “Hurricane Heroes! Storm City, Massachusetts” that will provide your students with a unique experience that integrates science concepts and the engineering design process in an exciting way.

Funded by the MA STEM Advisory Council, help your students rise to the MA STEM Week theme “See Yourself in STEM” as they use their STEM skills and creativity to meet the “Hurricane Heroes!” Challenge:

A category 6 hurricane has hit Storm City, Massachusetts.  The city faces several problems that MUST be solved by your engineering team. Storm City has been flooded by 14 inches of rain from the hurricane.  You must find a way to 1) evacuate people to safety and 2) move floodwaters out of home and businesses with the electrical grid down using a clever design or an alternative source of energy.

Students will be challenged to:
1) build a transport vessel that will move 25 people (pennies) and remain afloat for five minutes
2) build a water movement system using gravity or alternative sources of energy to move water 2 km (20 cm) away from homes and businesses

Since the frequency and severity of storms has increased in the last decade they will also learn how to prepare for the next possible catastrophic event by participating in a disaster preparation simulation.

The challenge is designed for middle school students but is easily adaptable to upper elementary or high school students. The challenge can take place in either the classroom or remote learning settings.

“Hurricane Heroes!” will allow teachers to utilize grade-level-appropriate science and technology concepts that address the MA STE Standards in a phenomena-based challenge. Storms are a global issue. There is an opportunity to make this challenge interdisciplinary with research into other countries and how storm damage/mitigation is handled. It will incorporate engineering concepts with physical and earth science disciplinary core ideas.

The Challenge will include a Curriculum Guide providing background information and inquiry-based investigations that can be used to lead up to the challenge, a professional development session for teachers, and a classroom materials kit for Massachusetts teachers attending the Pre-Challenge Workshop.

The Curriculum Guide will include investigations in which students will explore the engineering design process, compare different materials to evaluate their buoyancy, learn how a simple pump works, explore creating basic circuits and experiment with solar panels to power a water pump. Students will be able to apply this knowledge to removing water from a flooded house model. These investigations are designed to be used at the teacher’s discretion to provide the students with grade-level-appropriate background concepts to support their development of the challenge solution. The Curriculum Guide will include The Game of Flood as a pre or post-challenge activity. The Game of Flood is a scenario-based tool that gives students a forum for discovering what considerations are made in a community to prepare for and recover from coastal flooding events.

Both the pre-challenge investigations and the challenge itself can be completed in the classroom or virtually using a remote platform, if necessary.

Teachers will receive the Curriculum Guide, support from the 3 sponsoring organizations and the opportunity to attend their choice of a 2-part virtual afternoon or a one-day (5 hours) virtual professional development workshop where they will participate in the challenge themselves. They will experiment with solar panels and motors and build a transport vehicle that will remain afloat for 5 minutes. Teachers will deepen their conceptual understandings in science/technology/engineering and experience ways to integrate project-based experiences linked to the common core in their classrooms. Massachusetts teachers participating in the Pre-Challenge Teacher Workshop will receive a kit of materials for use with their students as well as resources for working with their students in the classroom or remotely.

During the week of October 25th schools participating in the challenge will have an opportunity to participate in a virtual “Challenge Showcase”.

Questions? Email us at wadeinstitute@wadeinstitutema.org.

Registration for the 2021 STEM Week Challenge is closed.

If you are interested in taking this workshop, please visit our Focus Workshops page to learn more about our 2023-2024 Rise to the Challenge Focus Workshop Series!

STEM Week (October 18th – 22nd) is sponsored by the Executive Office of Education and the MA STEM Advisory Council.
The STEM Challenge is funded by a grant from the MA STEM Advisory Council.

The theme for the 2021 Massachusetts STEM Week is “See Yourself in STEM”. For more information on STEM Week, visit www.massstemweek.org.

Wade Institute for Science Education
Salem Sound Coastwatch
Lloyd Center for the Environment