Save the World, Study STEM: Sustainability

In response to the reported threats to our world’s climate and carrying capacity, sustainability has been a majorly hot topic as of late. And while sustainability has become a highly-charged tag word, there seems to be a bit of confusion about what this concept really means and how it will impact our current ways of life. To answer this question, scientists, architects, and engineers (among many other professions) are working hard to re-envision cities and how they interact with the environment.

Productive Architecture

Rather than focusing on what buildings can be, architects are now shifting their focus to what buildings can do. From producing energy to producing food, the goal of architecture is less about being bigger and taller and more about meeting the demands of cities. This new approach to architecture actually produces more resources rather than depleting them.

So what would a totally sustainable city look like?

Source: Huffington Post

Source: Huffington Post

The Huffington Post recently covered an initiative that envisions one of the largest cities in the world, New York City, as a completely sustainable city. This vision for New York provides mechanisms that allow the city to meet all of its food and energy needs internally. Though the project has been described as a “pipe dream,” it’s holistic approach could help pave the way for future urban planning. Read more.

What does sustainability mean for us?

While it is highly important that our city planners, architects, engineers, and farmers start envisioning our world in a more sustainable way, this does not absolve us of our individual responsibility. Though is has been around for a good while, the old tagline “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” contains a lot of wisdom. It is almost a guarantee that there is one behavior that we can change today to make a lesser impact on the environment, whether it is finding ways to reuse (or upcycle, to some) materials that we may have been quickly casting out, or finding a way to reduce our consumption in the first place.

It is especially important for us STEM advocates who are working to influence and shape the futures of the next generation to adopt sustainable practices. Are there ways that your classroom, club, office, or home can be made more sustainable?

Happy Pi Day!

downloadIt’s Pi day folks! Celebrated by math lovers and non-math lovers alike. this holiday began in 1988 and grew to become an international holiday. In appreciation of this momentous occasion, we were totally planning on putting together an amazing post with ideas for how to celebrate. But… turns out that wiki how beat us to it, and probably did better than we would have done. So you should check it out here.

DNA Vending Machine

Those of you who have done the DNA extraction activity—either with our CSI camps or on your own—will love what that experiment has gone on to inspire. This DNA vending machine is a blend of art, science, education, and the crazy connections between the two. Take five minutes out of your day to give this a watch… it’s worth it.

Women in STEM


Our fearless leader, Executive Director Dr. Delores Etter

We have a confession to make: the STEM Works team is comprised entirely of women. While we do collaborate with some wonderful male teachers for our CSI camps, the day-to-day management of our programs lacks a y chromosome. So, now that you know the truth, does that change your view of our work?


Social Media Communications Director Danielle Caldwell

The unfortunate truth is that women are often met with scrutiny when entering and pursuing careers in a variety of STEM fields. While we are lucky to live in a time in which a number of organizations are working to promote STEM careers to women and girls, the fact remains that females are still largely underrepresented in a variety of STEM fields. That’s why we thought we would celebrate upcoming International Women’s Day—taking place on March 8, 2014—with a special Women in STEM scavenger hunt.

Lindsey small

STEM Program Director Lindsey Groark

While we are a team of women, we are bummed to admit that in the past we have let International Women’s Day go largely unmarked. While we were peripherally familiar with the occasion, we weren’t totally clear on its robust history and thematic way of celebrating women on a global scale. Once we heard the theme for this year’s celebration, Inspiring Change, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to highlight notable women of STEM’s past and present. Whether you’re working with a class, a club, or even your own children, celebrate International Women’s Day with our Women in STEM scavenger hunt. And once you’ve finished learning about these inspirational women, be sure to visit our Women in STEM Hall of Fame page to discuss the women that personally inspire you!

(Note: the only pictures of the two other members of our team that we have are fake mugshots we use for our CSI camps, so we thought we’d wait till we obtained more flattering photos of them before publishing them on the site.)

Last month’s exciting STEM news – February, 2014

The news was buzzing from all ends of the STEM spectrum last month, so we thought we’d share some of our favorite highlights.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

The National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada spent some time crowd sourcing science last month during the Great Backyard Bird Count. This event, which takes place for a few days every February, allows casual bird enthusiasts to participate in scientific data collection by helping track wild bird populations. This year’s event yielded interesting information about snowy owls, robins, and doves, among others. Read article.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

There’s no doubt that the past few months have yielded some strange weather. From droughts in the west to snow and cold in the east, weather in the U.S. continues to disrupt the lives of many. Read article.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

February marked the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month. While the risk of heart issues is often attributed to adults, students from California to Alabama got in on the celebratory action by jumping rope for heart health. And in case you missed our heart-themed scavenger hunt, there’s still time to check it out! To the Scavenger Hunt!

Robotics IconRobotics

One person’s pest is another person’s inspiration. Harvard engineers have drawn inspiration from termites in order to develop a network of self-organizing robots. These little critters are self-regulating and cooperate by modifying their environment.  Read article.

Space IconSpace

Who says STEM has no sense of romance? Valentine’s Day sweethearts were treated to a full moon—called a “snow moon” due to its appearance in February. But while couples on earth could only dance in the moonlight, a host of spacecraft actually celebrated the romantic holiday by dancing with the moon. Read article.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

Pop quiz: Who said that her view of the deep was like watching the Discovery Channel in real time? Deep-sea researcher and Cool Jobs alumna Shannon Johnson, of course. In February we caught up with Shannon to hear all about her recent tour of the South Pacific. Read article.

Video Games IconVideo Games

Get ready to dramatically bolster your supply of coasters. A February article from CNN Money reported that disc-based video games may be a dying breed as smartphone and tablet games take over the video game market.  Read article.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

Wondering how renewable energy is faring in the overall market? A recent report from the Global Wind Energy Council recaps the findings from the previous year. Read article.

So there, various STEM subject lovers. We’ve got you covered!