How We Can Use STEM Education to Tackle Natural Disasters


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If you are keeping up with recent events, you know that Hurricane Harvey was a category 4 hurricane that had recently hit the state of Texas leaving thousands without power, without food, and without the resources they need to maintain everyday life. Hurricane Harvey, though devastating, is not the only hurricane to be concerned with. Hurricane Irma is causing its own share of problems for quite a few Atlantic Islands, Cuba, the Florida Keys, the mainland of Florida, and even into the connecting states in the United States.

Hurricanes are not the only natural disaster that can tear apart lives. While these hurricanes have blasted the United States and nearby islands, Mexico underwent an attack from an 8.1 Earthquake followed by a category 1 hurricane called Katia. Natural disasters are just that, disasters. So, what can STEM do about that? STEM can accomplish quite a bit if those behind it work diligently and with dedication.


Really KNOW What Is Coming

There is a very real chance that you are incredibly knowledgeable in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. There is even a pretty good chance that you are good at two or more of the areas that have just been listed. The challenge comes into play when you are trying to figure out how to make practical use the knowledge you have gained from your STEM education. If you are good at mathematics, for example, you may be wondering how you can use those skills to help predict or respond to the types of natural disasters that have been listed above. That is why it is extraordinarily important to study and understand exactly what you are dealing with when you are talking about one or more types of natural disasters.

The first thing to remember is that all natural-disasters are incredibly different from each other. They are different in how they function, in how they present themselves, and in the type of damage that they can leave behind once they have moved out of the affected areas. Hurricanes, for example, involve a change in pressure, open water sources, differing miles of travel, differing speeds, and differing sizes. Not just this, but you must be aware of how the center of the hurricane, also known as the eye, behaves differently than the immediate surrounding area. The more you know about natural disasters, the better the plan you can create to be well prepared.


Plan the Future Based on What You Know from the Past

Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Katia, and even Hurricane Irma are all recent events. We understand them because of the hurricanes that have happened in the past. Realistically though, we have only witnessed a handful of hurricanes in recent history and of those hurricanes only a few have been truly disastrous. Still, our understanding of hurricanes spans little more than 100 years with limited knowledge on what causes them and what will affect their exact paths, strengths, and sizes. For example, what made 2017’s Hurricane Katia a category 1 when just a short distance away Hurricane Harvey hit Texas as a category 4? This isn’t just about hurricanes. What about wildfires, earthquakes, or blizzards?

Your knowledge on natural disasters may be limited based on what you know of the disasters that have occurred in the past. Take this time to do research on one or more types of natural disasters- maybe those that have personally affected you or your loved ones- and learn as much as you possibly can. Learn about causes, about resources, about fuels, about direct impacts, and even about the types of secondary problems that are caused as a direct result of that disaster.


Do Not Be Afraid to Experiment and Test

If you have access to a lot of money, it may not be hard for you to build a space that simulates the same types of disasters you witness coming from mother nature. There are centers that can simulate the same exact conditions, same exact impacts, and similar results as hurricanes at certain category strengths. There are pools that demonstrate what these volumes of water can do when they are gathered and thrown into places that aren’t generally accustomed to accepting those volumes of water. There are contained spaces that can test tornado strengths and earthquake magnitudes. You can create similar contained spaces or spaces that make sense to you and recreate these disasters inside of those contained spaces. If not, try creating similar situations to better understand what natural disasters do.


Develop Technology for More Accurate Early Detection and Earlier Recovery

Technology is one of the greatest advances the humans have been able to develop. Technology can help us connect instantly with people who live on the other side of the world. There is technology that can help you find and share information, pictures, videos, and messages. Technology can help us keep track of time, prepare, and cook food, and help us complete much, if not all our daily tasks. Technology is also being used to pick up, predict, track, and respond to the types of natural disasters that have been talked about here and taught in STEM schools. Yes, you could help develop the technology that helps to pick up, predict, track, and respond to natural disasters in a fraction of the type it currently takes. Your technology could save many lives.


Do Not Be Afraid to Gather in Large Groups

Part of the success of disaster prevention and response comes from the fact that many people have gotten together and discussed all their knowledge with each other. There are plenty of people who are just as eager as you are to make a positive change using the STEM concepts that you know well. By gathering in large groups, you will be able to point out the brilliant points and the points that will not work with other people’s theories and ideas. On the other side, these people will be able to do the same with your ideas. Together, you should be able to formulate a plan that will not only cut down on the number of lives lost, the number of injuries and illnesses that tend to occur, but will cut down on the number of people that are displaced because of such serious natural disasters.

Keep in mind that STEM education is truly about a more than just science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is about how you use the skills you have learned and the knowledge that you have gained to make a positive and meaningful difference in the world.


It is incredibly difficult to predict all natural-disasters, particularly in areas of the world with poor technology. Even when professionals can detect these natural disasters before they hit, it is practically impossible to stop them from tearing apart anything in its path. With the information above and knowledge gained from STEM schools could change the way we perceive these natural disasters, how we prepare for these natural disasters, and how we clean up after them once they have hit.

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