Save the World, Study STEM: Refugee Housing, Hydropower, and Gaming for Good

So, after we recently posted our Want to Save the World? Study STEM! post we learned two things:

1- People LOVED hearing about the world-changing effects of STEM.

2 – These types of stories are absolutely everywhere!

In light of these two realizations, we thought that we would take this concept further and highlight these types of stories in a recurring feature. So welcome to part 2 of the infinity-part series: Save the World, Study STEM!

Reinventing Refugee Housing

Food, water, sanitation, and housing all pose recurring challenges to both inhabitants and facilitators of refugee camps. To address these challenges, the Ikea Foundation recently joined forces with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to create a new and improved design for refugee housing. Assembling your own bookshelf is a thing of the past… assembling refugee housing is the thing of the future!

A New Approach to Hydropower

Photo courtesy of Verdant Power

Photo courtesy of Verdant Power

Not to toot our own horn or anything, but we introduced the Wind Energy subject to our Kids Ahead and STEM Works websites because we believed that the issue of sustainable energy is of great importance. Located in that subject is the Cool Jobs interview with Jonathan Colby, a hydrodynamic engineer who is working to derive energy from New York’s East River. If hydropower and wind power had a baby, it would be this sustainable project! Check it out!

Gaming for Good

Think gaming is a waste of time? This article from shows how technology and gaming come together to provide a platform for social activism. Whether racing virtual bikes so an impoverished community can get real ones or virtually stepping into the shoes of a refugee, these games bring conscience and purpose to an often criticized technological field.

So what do you think… inspired yet?

Got Brains? Teaching STEM Zombie-style!

It isn’t all that uncommon for teachers and parents to hear students lament about their lack of understanding of how they will use particular skills or content they are learning in school in their real life. Here on the STEM-Works team, we will openly admit to being those kids (and adults). As STEM advocates, we feel like these kinds of questions are our opening to get students of all ages engaged in the world of STEM. As a result, we wanted to share some ideas to get you thinking outside your existing curriculum or advocacy materials and then get your thoughts on other ideas.

To start with, we are firm believers that if you find it cool, there’s at least a distinct chance that your students will as well (maybe not always, but we’re sure there are some common interests). For example, we recently stumbled on a Social Studies/Geography curriculum entirely based on Zombies. Using a project-based learning (or Zombie-Based Learning as the developer calls it), this curriculum provides a framework for students to learn important geography concepts by planning for and surviving a zombie apocalypse scenario. In addition to the curriculum being novel and engaging, it is standards-based, which makes it much easier to incorporate into traditional classrooms.  Check out the developer’s explanation of how he came up with this concept:

So think about it and share your thoughts! What concepts, TV Shows, or life events do you think would make a good curriculum or framework for STEM advocacy?

At-home Resources for Students

We all know how much impact a great teacher can have and how cool it is when schools offer special robotics or software classes. But, let’s face it, sometimes the real world limits access to these types of resources. In light of this fact, we thought we would share some of our favorite resources for students wanting to supplement their education at home. These resources are great for students wanting to further their understanding of a certain subject, software, or process. So without further ado, here they are!

Bad Astronomy YouTube Channel

Love to explore Space? This completely free YouTube channel explores many different topics related to astronomy, space, and science. This channel doesn’t shy away from total space eye candy also, which can be wonderful for those times when you brain needs a break! In fact, here’s some eye candy now for your viewing pleasure!

Gaming Resources

Just in case you haven’t stopped by our website recently, our Video Games activities page contains a number of wonderful resources for those who want to get into video game design. Many of these resources involve coding and allow you to recreate old games like Frogger, as well as new ones of your own!

Khan Academy

This is another totally free website that gives students access to lessons on a vast number of subjects. And instead of us telling you all about this one, we’ll let Mr. Khan speak for himself.

Online learning is gaining in popularity these days, and caters to this trend. This site is very useful for educators in both the classroom and homeschool settings and provides online educational tools for grades K-12. This site does require a fee. is a wonderful resource for students and adults alike. This website offers a TON of video tutuorials on a TON of different software. Whether you’re wanting to learn how to create a website, animate a 3D graphic, or design a game, can probably help you out. This website does, however, charge a monthly subscription fee.


So, are there any other great resources for students that we missed? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!