STEM for Humanity

For: Year 10 students


Many people around the world struggle to survive on less than two dollars a day. STEM for Humanity is a day-long program that explores some ways that Scientists and Engineers can work with communities in developing countries to support and improve their lives, in a manner that is sustainable within the community.

In the first section of the program, students are introduced to a project called “Map Kibera” where a group of Geospatial Scientists worked with the community in Kibera to produce a map of their district. The information on the map was used to make the local government accountable to the needs of the thousands of people who live in Kibera. During the program students learn some basics of Geospatial Science: how global positioning system (GPS) satellites work and how maps are produced. They then participate in a data collection exercise using GPS units around the university grounds.

In the second section, students work in small groups, each group assuming the role of an engineering team working in one of a number of developing countries. Their task is to produce a water filter, made from everyday materials that can convert dirty water to cleaner water. Once the filters have been tested, students investigate and test the efficiency of solar panels, and using their results, formulate the best arrangement through which their panel can power a water pump.

The program concludes with a presentation of successful engineering projects in developing communities, to show how engineering can and does improve people’s lives, and profiles some of the groups that undertake this important work.

What will students do?

Students will:

  • Use GPS units to:

i.   Locate important infrastructure on the University campus
ii.  Participate in an environmental survey
iii. Collect location data to add to a map of the university

  • Investigate the complexities of producing a two dimensional map from a three dimensional object such as the earth.
  • Design, construct (within budget) and test a water filter made from everyday materials.
  • Investigate the operation of solar panels and a solar-powered water pump by:

i. measuring the voltage the panel produces in a range of conditions
ii. formulating and testing the arrangement that maximises the water pump’s efficiency

All activities are undertaken in the context of using STEM to improve people’s lives. Students learn how map making, satellite communication and GPS can be applied to solving environmental and humanitarian problems, how using simple materials with sensible engineering processes can make dirty water clean, and how renewable energy technologies can bring effective and accessible power to the poorest people in the world.


  • As this program is a practical activity, students and accompanying adults will be required to wear closed in shoes and appropriate dress.
  • Outdoor components are also included in the program, so it would be advisable to bring hats and sunscreen.
  • Teachers will receive confirmation of booking and pre-visit information.
  • This program requires a minimum of 15 students to attend, and has a capacity of 25 students.


  All sessions from 9.30am to 2.30pm
No. of students  
Year level 

  Comments or special instructions (e.g. disabled access required)

Areas of study and research

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