Stage 5 Mission 2

Fire-Ed Up Challenge

Mission 2 | Define

Define the problem

Students will learn how to ‘Define’ the problem and go through a number of steps to ultimately produce a ‘Mission Statement’.



The define stage of the iSTEM engineering design process requires students to think carefully about, what is the problem they are going to solve?, who are they solving the problem for, and why does the problem need to be solved?

An integral part of the iSTEM process is the definition of a meaningful and actionable, design brief statement. Students will work through a variety of activities in order to produce a quality design brief that will guide their team’s work and kickstart the ideation process.

Use the lesson below to commence solving one of the following scenarios;

Mission Brief

Key Questions for Students to consider

  • Why does the problem need to be solved?
  • What experiences can you relate to in the problem?
  • What are your initial thoughts of how you could possibly solve the problem?
  • How can different members of the team contribute to the solution?
  • Do you have more questions about the problem?
  • Who does the problem concern?
  • How will you know that your solution will suit them?
  • What processes will need to occur to solve the problem

Possible Activities

  • Produce a clear statement describing the problem to be solved.
  • Mind map initial thoughts and additional questions.
  • Review prior knowledge and experience.
  • Determine what assets are available.
  • Identify resources available or needed.
  • Write a clear and concise design brief statement.
  • Identify sources of information.
  • Articulate the scope and nature of the problem.

Suggested Learning Sequence – Mission 2

Our expert curriculum designers have developed a suggested learning sequence for teachers for this mission. The following is for the full set of Fire-Ed Up resources, however, teachers are encouraged to only use activities that are most suitable for their own class and school setting.

Sub Mission 1: Setting the Scene Watch the introductory video featuring Ted Tagami ( and Nick De Leon (Royal College of Art London) who will discuss the importance of design thinking.

Sub Mission 2: Defining the Problem Provide students with the Defining the Problem worksheet, discuss what makes a good design brief statement and how to produce one.

Sub Mission 3: Analysing the Problem Provide copies of the Analysing the problem worksheet to each team and get students to complete tasks.

Sub Mission 4: Brainstorming Get students to watch the brainstorming video and get students to use one of the two different brainstorming methods described in the worksheet to come up with possible problems to solve.

Sub Mission 5: Synthesize your Ideas  Download worksheets and provide them to each team. Get teams to select the best four ideas from their brainstorming exercises and evaluate each using pros and cons. Teams select and justify their final selection.

Sub Mission 6: Empathy Mapping Get students to watch How to Empathy Map video. Provide each team with the empathy mapping worksheet and get them to complete the exercise.

Sub Mission 7: Write a Design Brief Provide students with the Design Brief worksheet. In teams get students to write their own Design Brief statement based of their brainstorming and empathy mapping.

Sub Mission 8: Scenarios Get students to watch the selected videos from their selected scenario to provide additional context for their project.

Downloadable Resources


The following provides information on the ‘Define’ stage of the iSTEM engineering design process. Students learn about what makes a good design brief statement and how to produce one. The Design Brief will help guide student’s work throughout the design process.

Download Worksheet >>>

Analysing the Problem

This worksheet has been designed for students to analyse the Fire-Ed Up scenario. They will document their deliverables and the who, what and why of the mission. It is important that students clearly understand the scenario.

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In this worksheet, students learn about brainstorming. Students undertake a task where they choose from 2 different methods of ideation. They are asked to come up with ideas about different problems they might like to solve as part of Fire-Ed Up.

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Students are asked to synthesize their ideas from the brainstorming session from the previous task. Using this worksheet students select four of the best problems and evaluate them before making a decision on which would be the best problem to solve.

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Empathy Mapping

An empathy map is a simple, easy-to-digest visual that captures knowledge about a user’s behaviours and attitudes. In this worksheet, students learn about empathy mapping and complete an empathy mapping task in which they complete research and observations of the end users of their designs.

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Design Brief

Students should have completed a range of activities to better understand the who, what and why of their scenario and select a problem to solve. In this worksheet, they are to produce a design brief that clearly describes the problem that they are trying to solve.

Download Worksheet >>>


All Scenarios – Resources

General background information for teachers and students to support challenge activities.

Dr David Clarke, Fire Behaviour Analyst at the NSW Rural Fire Service explains the science behind the AFDRS (14:53 minutes)

Dr Meaghan Jenkins, AFDRS Manager at the NSW Rural Fire Service discusses the reasons for the update of the AFDRS (14:03 minutes)

Bushfires can be so intense they can create their own weather systems, sparking even more fires. What is the science behind bushfires? What does it need to take off and become a raging inferno? (2:40 minutes)

Brainstorming – NSW Virtual STEM Academy

Ian Preston, Deputy Principal from the NSW Virtual STEM Academy at Murrumbidgee Regional High School discusses the concept of brainstorming. This video provides context for the brainstorming worksheet and discusses how to brainstorm effectively.  (4:09 minutes)

How to Empathy Map

A 5-step process for creating empathy maps that describe user characteristics at the start of a design process. (02:51 minutes)

Website Resources

iSTEM Process Poster
Download Word Doc >>>

iSTEM Process Guide
Download PDF >>>

Empathy Mapping

Understanding the Job Video
Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School talks about the job to be done – through milkshakes!

How Miscommunication happens Ted Ed Talk

Scenario 1: New technologies driving bushfire innovations

Technology is advancing to reduce the impact of bushfires in Australia. From winching firefighters into remote sites & live imagery to fire control centres to new fire helmets & more (3:11 Minutes)

In 2021 the Minderoo Foundation launched its ‘Fire Shield Mission’, using satellites & artificial intelligence to locate fires more quickly and predict their course and ferocity before they get out of control. (2:32 Minutes)

Scenario 2: Protecting human life & property from bushfires

A pioneering cultural burning project reveals how traditional Indigenous fire can heal and protect the landscape in Tathra. (11:00 Minutes)

A CSIRO $2.1 million research facility in Canberra is aimed at helping firefighters and other authorities better understand and predict bushfire behaviour. (2:15 Minutes)

Scenario 3: Protecting fauna & flora from bushfires

Park rangers from Grampians National Park, Kinglake National Park and The Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve explain the impacts of bushfire on the environment, and the ongoing efforts to support recovery and restoration.  (3:48 Minutes)

Learn how Chief Botanist Dr. Brett Summerell, his team of researchers, and the Garden’s Horticulturists have been monitoring the impacts from the bushfires and see how Australian plants have adapted to cope with fire.  (2:24 Minutes)

Fire-ed Up

Next Mission | Identify

The Constraints 

Outline the specific boundaries for which the project will be confined.

Take-Off to Mission 3 >>>