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SySTEM Alert!

Tomorrow is almost here

Published April 11, 2019

The SySTEM Alert! newsletter inspires students to see how their lives intertwine with the world of STEM. Each four-page issue is stuffed with STEM-relevant content – from news about cutting-edge science to explorations of familiar technology to conversations with engineers to real-world applications of math. A corresponding knowledge quiz for use in your classroom is available online as well.

In this issue:


Whether you see a video game as a work of art or a piece of entertainment, it is a complex creation requiring numerous experts. Many video games are simulated worlds with landscapes, characters, stories, physics, and rules. From programmers to artists, various experts must collaborate and communicate to create the finished product.

SySTEM Alert! speaks with Riley Dutton, director of OrbusVR, a breakthrough virtual reality game experience coming soon. Riley explains how the members of his team work together to create the experience they want to give players.

“Although the technical considerations (such as what programming language to use, what type of game engine, and so on) are important, really they are very secondary to the core goal of delivering that experience . . .”

  • Coding
  • Virtual reality
  • 21st-century skills
  • Teamwork


Computers are becoming more intelligent each year. But the type of intelligence they have is quite different from human intelligence. A new computer transistor has been designed based on the principles of organic (living) materials. It has the ability to make new connections on its own – that is, to learn!

  • Computer science
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Automation


A recent scientific analysis of popular song lyrics reveals that the emotions expressed have changed over time. In past decades, music expressed joy more often. But in modern times, anger and fear have become more common. What does this tell us about the reach of science? About the interaction between technology and emotions? About who we are?

  • Big data
  • Analytics
  • Music and culture
  • Social and emotional learning


“Mom! Fluffy chewed up one of my new boots!”

“Don’t worry, dear. Just set it out in the sun, and it will repair itself.”

Sound far-fetched? A new 3-D printing process creates rubber that can heal itself even after dramatic damage.

  • Materials science
  • Manufacturing
  • 3-D printing

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– Jennifer Rivenbark, CTE teacher, Wallace Elementary School, Wallace, North Carolina

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