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CHICAGO — About 600 students have come together in Chicago to work alongside each other and help tackle, and possibly solve, some of the problems facing us and the rest of the world.

They are tackling tough topics like reducing ballistic missile threats, lowering the rate of heart attacks and finding cost effective renewable energy sources.

18 high schools across the state are teaming up with the Illinois Science Technology Coalition to develop solutions in science, technology, engineering and math – STEM.

More than a year after their community was devastated by tornadoes, students from Washington Community High School today presented their idea on generating power in a blackout. Right now the design powers about 14-volts per step. The hope is to someday power a light bulb, a battery and maybe even a radio. Most importantly to these who have seen some of the worst, is should be able to withstand the fury of Mother Nature.

Glenbrook South came up with plans for a cost effective solar powered house and Lindblom Math and Science wants to stop the spread of diseases.

The students paired up with leading industry experts to tackle the tough issues.

This is the second year for the STEM learning exchange which is designed to foster and keep innovative ideas in the state, now and well beyond.