Friday, November 08, 2013

Exploration and Moonshot Thinking

Our gifted class is studying exploration this year, and as always, I'm learning more than the kids.  I really wish I could have learned like this when I was their age!  The idea of exploration is contingent on curiosity, and after studying people like the Vikings, or Lewis and Clark, we came up with a list of attributes that are crucial for an explorer to have.  They are, in no particular order:

1. Goal setters
2. Prepared
3. Creative
4. Curious
5. Risk takers
6. Have a sense of higher purpose

There were more, but the class seemed to focus on these the most.  We decided to use them as a guide for their future projects.

Our task from now until Christmas is to explore the ocean.  The students are going to choose the place or thing they want to explore, and they are going to design a vehicle that will allow them to explore it.  For one year.  See, we watched this video called "Moonshot Thinking,"  and in that video there was a statement that caught our attention.  A person said, "If you want to make a car go 50 miles on a gallon of gas, you just need to tweak the engine a bit.  But if you want to make a car go 500 miles on a gallon of gas, you've got to start over."  We figure people go into the ocean and explore for a bit, and take snippets of information.  We want to explore more than the 5% that has currently been explored.  We want to explore over a long period of time.  If we are studying whales, we want to be able to follow them for a year, wherever they go.  We want to design the vehicle that will enable us to do that.  And we want to design using nanotechnology.  Especially the application of graphene and nanotubes.  So that is what we're doing.

So these 3rd, 4th and 5th graders will be glimpsing not only the world they plan to explore, but also the world of applied scientists, engineers and biologists.  It's an exciting world we live in, and worth exploring.  Why not get creative in how we do it?

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