Design Thinking: Water Warriors

Communities Fighting Floods with STEM

In the Water Warriors Design Thinking Challenge, middle and high school students imagine and prototype flood barriers that can protect their community from flooding. Teams can tackle this challenge using a wide range of materials and technology, from everyday materials available in the classroom to 3D-printed components. The focus is on the ideas and approaches, not the products or materials used.

Through this challenge, students will:

  • Acquire deep understanding of the challenge posed by flooding
  • Build and apply foundational and advanced STEM knowledge and skills, cutting across many disciplines, from earth science to physics to computer science and engineering
  • Build important career skills, such as problem-solving and design thinking, teamwork, entrepreneurship, and communication, and develop a supportive network of peers, educators, and career mentors/advocates
  • Grow in confidence, think creatively and engage deeply with their community and possible careers
  • Translate their new-found strengths into innovation, local impacts, and jobs

The Water Warriors Design Thinking Challenge also offers an opportunity for elementary grade students to identify people in the community who help others in natural disasters and come up with ways they could help people in their community recover from these events.

Day of Design Challenges encourage students to create like an innovator by employing creative problem-solving skills and an entrepreneurial mindset while innovating a solution to a problem.

Design Thinking is a widely-used methodology that seeks to create solutions for the future, rather than solving problems that have occurred in the past. It is focused on achieving the best possible outcome for the end user, who could be a person, an organization or even a community. It draws on logic, imagination, intuition, knowledge, and reasoning to explore, design and test possible solutions. It provides an engaging and meaningful connection between learning in the STEM classroom and the world beyond it.

A fun and easy way to introduce students to design thinking is to run the “Wallet Project” from the Institute of Design at Stanford University.

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