From killer bee to honey bee… drones they are a changing

Drones have a PR problem, and it’s difficult to begin a post about drones without bringing up their controversial reputation. Just mention the word “drone” and many us, myself included, instantly conjure images of war and espionage, largely affiliated with the US. Yet there are many applications of this technology that are far less grisly than it’s military application. Drones are now being used in many different contexts, from feature filming to home delivery.

Launch, film, land, repeat

Cinematic aerial shots may no longer be exclusive to those without the budget to hire a helicopter. See how photographer Eric Sterman is utlizing drones to get some amazing footage.

A new approach to research

Slocum Glider operated by Rutgers via NOAA

Slocum Glider operated by Rutgers via NOAA

Drones are also increasingly being used in a number of research ventures. NOAA is taking drone technology to the sea. NOAA’s underwater “gliders”—the word drone is being avoided for obvious reasons—are taking to the seas to collect data about marine weather conditions. Additionally, drones are being used by other organizations for research regarding 3D mapping and flood delivery, among many other uses.

How much should we tip a drone?

Photo source:

Photo source:

Speaking of delivery, one of the most high-profile drone uses being explored is the use of drones for home delivery. Who could forget Amazon’s recent announcement that they plan to use drones to deliver their products to the homes of customers? And it seems Amazon is far from alone on this idea. People are already anticipating the use of drones for food products such as pizza.

National Geographic Celebrates 125 Years

Photo by Steve McCurry

Photo by Steve

January 13th, 2014 brought about the 125th anniversary for the National Geographic Society, which publishes the iconic National Geographic magazine. It’s hard to imagine a world with National Geographic magazine. While starting out as “a small scientific body founded ‘to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge’ “, the National Geographic Society has been on the front lines of human experience, highlighting the people, animals, and environments of our world through groundbreaking images and top-notch journalism.

In celebration of their 125th anniversary, we thought we’d share with you some fun facts about National Geographic:

  • The National Geographic Society flag has been to the moon; to Earth’s highest point, Mount Everest; to its lowest point, the Mariana Trench; and to the North and South Poles.
  • Inventor Alexander Graham Bell served as the National Geographic Society’s second president.
  • An asteroid (Geographos), a dinosaur (Leaellynasaura amicagraphica), an extinct ape (Simiolus enjiesi), several orchid species, a fish, a sea flea, a laughing thrush and many geographical features, including peaks, lakes, glaciers, rivers and seamounts, have been named for National Geographic or its representatives.
  • National Geographic inventor Greg Marshall has attached his Crittercam device to more than 60 animal species, gleaning information on their secret lives.
  • Some 4 million U.S. 4th to 8th graders compete annually in the annual National Geographic Bee.

Predictably, there are a number of promotional materials you can check out in conjunction with this momentous milestone, including “National Geographic 125 Years” book and a webpage dedicated to exploring the iconic photos and topics featured throughout the years. We here at STEM Works all have a very personal connection with the magazine and the way their content intimately connects us with the world. What is your experience with National Geographic?



The day after tomorrow was totally yesterday

Thanks to (or at the expense of) many parts of the country, the term “polar vortex” is now a household term. Yet it wasn’t until we saw this picture


Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

that we really started to liken this situation to the movie The Day After Tomorrow. So we thought that instead of highlighting the cool science project that people were doing or finding out cool things about the polar vortex, we could do a comparison between the recent polar vortex and the movie…

Problem is, someone beat us to it, so enjoy.

Intergalactic Adventure



Want to start 2014 off with a bang? Why not shoot for the stars? We wanted to go big for our first scavenger hunt of the year, so we thought we’d take you on an intergalactic adventure through our solar system. In a world with few remaining unexplored areas, we can always look to space for a dose of mystery and wonder. For this scavenger hunt you will be leaving the comfort of your home planet and moving into the great beyond. Have your student(s) travel from planet to planet and learn a thing or two about our solar system before reaching their final destination.