Superhero solutions

Project Overview

Superhero Solutions is a project designed to focus students on the many issues presented by natural disasters.  In Fall of 2017, the United States and other parts of the world have been struck by multiple catastrophic disasters.  Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have left many parts of the country in shambles, while the wildfires in the western region are devastating communities.  Students are tasked with creating a product or service that addresses these disasters and aids those communities affected by them.

Driving Question


How can we identify problems and create practical solutions to support communities impacted by natural disasters?

Milestones & Timeline


The milestones below mimic the engineering design process and each have products associated with them.  Students receive documents and templates for each phase as they move through the project.  

Entry Event


To begin to understand the scope of emergency management services and disaster relief operations, students engaged with members of their community who act in these roles for our community and others.  The purpose of the Fair-like assembly was to highlight the various problems that hinder emergency management and relief agents.  Community leaders in the Forest Service, Emergency Management Services, various relief organizations and local individuals discussed these problems as they conform to the phases of emergency management: preparation, prevention, response, and recovery.  



Below are some resources for students to begin to understand the scope of the issues faced by communities recently affected by natural disasters:

Natural Disasters Hyperdoc

California fires took thousands of homes. Now rent in hardest-hit areas is soaring 


Darkness: life in Puerto Rico without electricity

How to Help Victims of Natural Disasters

Phase 1: Project Proposal 


Student teams research and define a specific problem associated with disaster planning, response, and relief in order to outline a potential solution in the form of a product or service.  Teams will submit a project proposal to each other and their teachers that professionally organizes and documents their ideas for future communications with community experts and professionals.


Phase 2: Prototype 1

 Student teams take two weeks to develop a product or service prototype.  This artifact will be shared with community experts and professionals that can provide relevant feedback on the students’ draft ideas.  Students then use that feedback to refine their products and services.

By the end of this phase, every student team has:

  • A working prototype of the product or highly detailed blueprints

  • If a service, a plan for the pilot program


Phase 3- Prototype 2

To learn about the engineering process more fully, students will need to revise their prototypes from the original milestone using feedback from peers and teachers.  Because engineering projects often consist of many iterations of any given product, this will help them refine their work - just like in the workplace.  They will receive feedback on this prototype from a mentor who works in a profession relevant to the group’s focus.

By the end of this phase, every student team has:

  • A REVISED working prototype of the product or highly detailed blueprints

  • If a service, a REVISED plan for the pilot program

Final Product- Prototype 3 + Presentation


Once the students have further developed their ideas and have working prototypes, they enter the Polishing Phase, where they put final touches on their service plans by seeking mentor, peer, and teacher advice.  The goal of this phase is for students to have a final draft of a service plan that they could show to organizations to launch their product or service to help people during a natural disasters.  Moreover, the polishing phase involves students creating materials and branding their products.