Creatable | UNICEF

Rocket Stove

  • Strategy
  • R&D
  • Design
  • Prototype

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Nakatomi has partnered with Creatable since its inception to design and deliver creativity lead STEM based education and innovative projects for high school students in Australia.

In 2020, Creatable was engaged by UNICEF to develop an innovation and entrepreneurship curriculum for Burundi, the poorest country in the world.

The Rocket Stove - Film


We needed to find interesting, relevant and reproducible STEM projects for the Burundi high-school students to engage with. It needed to be an experience that might also inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and a future career in science and innovation.

We focussed on issues that negatively impacted people and their communities. Air pollution, deforestation, food supply, water supply, personal safety and school attendance/engagement were identified as key areas ripe for an innovative mindset. 

According to the World Health Organization, smoke inhalation, caused by inefficient home cooking devices, causes 4.3 million premature deaths every year, making it one of the most lethal environmental health risks worldwide*

As such air pollution from, and deforestation for, cooking fires was chosen as a common issue among the students.

*World Health Organization, editor. Indoor air quality guidelines: household fuel combustion. Geneva, Switzerland; 2014.

The Rocket Stove - Building lessons in Burundi

The text book showing our prototype in Sydney and illustrations


To address this concern in a school setting, we proposed to create a project that improves the efficiency of their cooking fires -- more completely burned wood produces less ash and carbon monoxide pollutants, and produces more heat from less fuel. This project is the Rocket Stove.

The basic rocket stove concept (having an air flow inlet from below a solid fuel in a fireplace to improve burning efficiency) has been known to the western world since the 1800s. Similar cooking fires designed for efficient fuel use and low-smoke output, like the Dakota Fire Pit, have potentially been around for thousands of years. 

We designed and tested a variant that could be efficiently built out of the materials that we knew were available to the people of Burundi. 

We compared various rocket stove designs to more simple open-pit and chimney fireplace designs and found it to burn more of the fuel completely and produce less soot for a similar amount of wood.

Our close partnership with Creatable every step of the way  ensured the projects could be delivered in a classroom environment. We illustrated all of the various scientific concepts and assisted with the development of the textbook that was later translated into French.


The program has been taught to thousands of young Burundians who have built and are using Rocket Stoves in their own homes. One entrepreneurial group of girls from the pilot program have created a business, building and selling rocket stoves for all the homes in their village

Creatable has since been embedded into the national curriculum in Burundi. There is a permanent office in the Ministry of Education with a team of educators working on implementing the program in schools nationwide.

The Future

We are currently working with Creatable and UNICEF on a second program that focuses on alternative farming methodologies that students can experiment with at home and ultimately scale up to mass food production.

Students in Burundi

"I'm really impressed with Nakatomi's learning velocity. How quickly they can take an insight, apply it, try something different and then learn from that different thing. Their ability to iteratively design solutions like this, from problem identification to working prototype, has de-risked our creativity while simultaneously allowing us to venture off the map."

Greg Atwells

Head of Creatable