Save the World, Study STEM: Recovering from Catastrophe

In this edition of our Save the World, Study STEM series, we examine the prominent role that the STEM fields play in the recovery from and prevention of catastrophe. War, natural disaster, famine, disease… unfortunately these catastrophic events are all a part of being human. From the nuts and bolts of rebuilding a community to building peace in war-torn areas, STEM provides many tools that help humanity return to their daily lives.

Yet the contributions of STEM during catastrophic events go beyond the obvious, as many people are now taking new and innovative approaches to the recovery from these events. Fire and rescue workers in Australia are using tablet technology to address natural disasters, experts in design tools to help Syrians gain access to quality information, and professionals are using mathematics to coordinate disaster recovery activities.

Tackling Natural Disaster with Tablet Technology

Brockman_4_mine_brushfire,_2013Response time during natural disasters is of critical importance. According to a recent article in the Brisbane Times, Queensland Fire and Rescue Services is now trying something new to help cut down on response time: tablet technology. Instead of using a paper system, these responders will now be able to upload images and data of the damage caused by natural disasters instantaneously. This technology will allow governmental entities to get the most up-to-date information far quicker than the old system allows, making it easier for people to receive the help they need. Read more. 

Design Thinking in Syria

347px-Golan171Experts in design thinking are now applying their knowledge to help localize the peace-building process in Syria through localized communication networks. According to a recent story that aired on The Takeaway, this process is led by someone with “the mind of a designer and the heart and dedication of a great humanitarian.” This story has all the elements of innovation and applies seemingly unrelated concepts to the betterment of this war-torn community. Listen to the full story. 

Mathematics for Disaster Recovery

800px-Mathematics_concept_collageMathematics entered the equation of disaster recovery in 2005 when professionals in China proposed a mathematical approach “to express diverse entities in information and disaster recovery system such as applications, facilities, resources, sub disaster recovery plans, budget, etc.” This equation really takes everything into account and shows how mathematics can have humanitarian aims. Read paper*.

The Save the World, Study STEM series is aimed at shedding light on the heart and soul that guide people in their STEM-related pursuits and the contributions that the STEM fields make in bettering our world.

*Access to this paper requires access to IEEE Explore.

Create Your Own App Challenge

Create Your Own App Challenge2Anyone with a smart phone or tablet likely sees the direction that technology is going through the use of apps. Back in the good ol’ days, running a software application on a computer required the use of some kind of external apparatus (who remembers floppy disks that were actually floppy?) Yet now, through the magical click of a button, technology allows us to magically install a HUGE variety of applications quickly and wirelessly.

When this technology first came out, it seemed like an untouchable brainchild of a brilliant group of people—and no doubt it was, minus the untouchable part—and quite mysterious to us laymen. Yet, the truth of the matter is that you do not have to be an MIT-degree-holding software engineer to create an app. People from all over and with a variety of educational backgrounds are plugging into the development of this exciting technology…

And we think you should too!

That is why we are excited to present our very new “Create Your Own App Challenge” scavenger hunt. This hunt will lead you and your students through a basic orientation to the mechanics of the technology created to use apps, an introduction to the many ways that apps can be applied to a number of different interests and subjects, and finally it will lead you to the Verizon Innovative App Challenge. This competition is open to middle school and high school students, and submissions are due December 17th. So, without further ado, we send you off into the sunset (well, the sun is setting somewhere in the world) to learn all about apps and tap into your creative side. Create Your Own App Challenge Scavenger Hunt