World Smarts STEM Challenge

World Smarts STEM Challenge


Today’s youth need skills in STEM, innovation, and collaboration across cultures. The World Smarts STEM Challenge pairs high school teachers and students from different countries on gender-balanced, collaborative teams. Teams compete to create the best STEM solution to global problems inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The challenge builds skills in innovation, investigation, problem-solving, and collaboration with people from different backgrounds. It equips diverse students—boys and girls—for successful STEM careers.

About the Program

Contest and Showcase

This event celebrated participants of the IREX World Smarts STEM Challenge on March 18, 2017. Learn more about the event »


This World Smarts STEM Challenge was made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Weekly Featured STEM Professionals

Each week, we encourage students to watch a video featuring a STEM professional. The professionals in the videos share information about their career, what they studied to prepare for their career, and other words of wisdom. Watch videos in the playlist »



  • Develop and improve secondary STEM teachers’ skills in supporting innovation and global citizenship for their students.
  • Strengthen secondary STEM teachers’ skills in innovation, investigation, problem solving, and global citizenship.
  • Develop enduring connections between secondary schools in the U.S. and Ghana based on classroom content and meaningful collaboration.
  • Increase community excitement and investment in STEM education for youth, empowering them to pursue success in STEM fields.
It’s going to help us in any STEM-related career. If you want to go to college and become an engineer... you will have to collaborate, brainstorm ideas, and come up with a solution. Kevin, student at High Point High School


Project Activities

  • A teacher training workshop in Accra, Ghana: Selected teachers will attend a training session in Ghana where they’ll learn about the challenge’s 10-week, standards-aligned, structured lessons that can be used in class and after school. During the training, teachers will also meet their teacher partners.
  • A binational virtual STEM competition: Teachers will put together gender-balanced teams of eight to pair up with their binational partner on complete teams of 16 over a 10-week period to create a STEM-based solution to their selected problem. Provided lessons and guided collaboration will include synchronous and asynchronous activities as each team  researches, brainstorms, designs, tests, and pitches their innovative STEM solution.
  • A video science fair: Teams will submit their STEM solutions in the form of a video and brief methods document.
  • The World Smarts STEM Challenge Contest and Showcase in Washington, DC: Semifinalist teams with the top-ranked solutions will travel to Washington, DC, to present projects to a panel of expert judges from industry, academia, and the policy community. The grand prize winner will be announced at the event.
  • An opportunity to see what STEM can really do: The winning team will receive support to market their innovation to angel investors, crowdfunding initiatives, and corporate partners to further develop, prototype, pilot, and market their idea. IREX will match up to $10,000 in funds raised.
Candice Mott
Candice Mott, teacher at HD Woodson High School. Photo by Jake Scott


I am very excited about this opportunity for my students, and words can't describe how personally motivated I've felt. I look forward to seeing this program... [become] a model for international education. Candice Mott, HD Woodson High School teacher

Participating Schools

U.S. schools: Bladensburg High School, Cardozo Education Campus, Crossland High School, Eastern High School, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Georgetown Visitation Preparatory, HD Woodson High School, High Point High School, International High School at Langley Park, International High School at Largo, McKinley Technology High School, Oxon Hill High School, Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter School

Ghanaian schools: Accra Academy, Adisadel College, Ahantaman Girls Senior High School, Bole Senior High School, Edinaman Senior High School, Ghana National College, Methodist Girls Senior High School, Nsutaman Catholic Senior High School, Pope John Senior High School and Minor Seminary, Prempeh College, Presbyterian Boys Senior High School, Swedru School of Business, Tarkwa Senior High School, Twifo Praso Senior High School, Ve Senior High SchoolWinneba Secondary School, Yaa Asantewaa Girls’ Senior High School


  • Education
  • Technology
  • Youth
  • Africa
  • Americas
  • Ghana
  • United States