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Making the World a Better Place with STEM

Dec 14, 2016 11:00AM ● By Kendra Kaiserman

During this time of year, many families are looking for ways to give back to their communities. Collecting donations for a food drive or donating warm clothes are great ways to serve the community, but giving back through innovation is another impactful way to help others. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education plays a significant role in giving innovators the skills they need to create tools that help solve some of the world’s largest problems.

Here are some STEM innovations that have helped make a difference in the lives of others around the world.

MadiDrop Tablets 
According to the United Nations, 783 million people do not have access to clean water. In order to help solve this problem, a group of scientists from the University of Virginia invented MadiDrop Tablets. One tablet can disinfect liters of water for up to six months using silver ions that remove toxic pathogens from the water.

Project Loon
The United Nations Broadband Commission’s report stated that a total of 4.2 billion people do not have regular access to the internet, which can impede economic growth and development. To help solve this problem, Google launched Project Loon, which has developed a number of balloons that provide a wireless 3G network to rural areas around the world.

ShareTheMeal App  
In order to help the fight against global hunger, the World Food Programme developed the ShareTheMeal app. With a click of a button and a 50 cent donation, users can provide a hungry child with an entire day’s worth of food.  

Solar Ovens 
Cooking in developing nations requires not only a great deal of labor, but also exposes people to large amounts of harmful smoke. More than 4 million people per year die prematurely from illnesses attributed to air pollution caused by cooking with solid fuels, according to the World Health Organization. Solar ovens concentrate the sun’s rays to produce power for cooking, saving large amounts of energy because no fuel or firewood is required. With no open flame, solar ovens drastically reduce exposure to deadly smoke, and in turn, the diseases caused by smoke exposure. 

This giving season, encourage your children to think like scientists to help save the world. One way to get started is to talk to your child’s teacher(s) about entering a science competition, such as the 25th Annual Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision program, the only STEM-related competition of its kind that allows kids to create ideas for new technological innovations in response to real-world issues. Past projects include a removable prosthetic retina to help those with poor vision and amphipathic films, a water collection method that provides people around the world with access to potable water. To learn more about past projects, and for more information about how to enter this year’s competition, visit

Sponsored by Toshiba