WorldWideFuture Weblog

the future of education, politics, science and art

Small step forward, giant leap….?

Here on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, it is heartbreaking to watch the scenes of the Apollo astronauts bouncing or riding across the lunar landscape, to know that we came and went and went no further.

Aldrin on the Moon 1969

Aldrin on the Moon 1969

To think human kind was able to motivate hundreds of thousands of people to take those dramatic steps, to reach the pinnacle of human achievement, to develop such amazing technology in such a short span of time, only to stop dead in our tracks and walk away. It is a shame, and to the generations of young people who did not have the benefits of continuing inspiration to dream and to accomplish dramatic things…it is something that needs to be addressed.

Consider first principals: that to solve the issues of environment and food production and housing and health, young people need to be encouraged to pursue scientific and technological and engineering careers. There is only a few motivational paths that can spark the intense interest to “dream the incredible, do the impossible”:

1. War. Great technological leaps, but certainly not useful in the long run.

2.   Altruism (solving cancer, feeding the world, solving the environmental crises). Certainly laudable, but the problems are multi-generational, quite intractable and while it attracts individuals who can chip away at the problems, it is difficult to focus the masses to create the technological spark.

3. Go where no one has gone before. The hard focus that can lead to so many unexpected paths, products and services. By setting  the impossible goal, by creating the WOW project, people will be motivated to be innovative and creative and risk taking. Going to the moon was not about the science, it was about the engineering and problem solving. Read the Chariots for Apollo or the story of the 1986 Voyager aircraft round-the-world tip to get a sense of what that means.

It is images like this that inspired generations

It is images like this that inspired generations

I don’t intend to wax nostalgic about the “good ol’ days”, nor do I intend to belittle the incredible disruptive technological advancements of the past 40 years, but I think the young people of today need a WOW project that will give them the incentive to “reach for the stars”. ‘Be all that you can be’ should be astronaut, not soldier.

Mars is a laudable goal for sure, but may be too far away in time. The moon beckons, and it will eventually lead to the inevitable evolution of humankind…Mars and beyond. A colony on the moon may be the answer to developing a wide raft of valuable technology in the medical, food production, energy production, communications and materials engineering fields, as well as more we can’t yet imagine.

The best and the brightest need an attractor to focus on solving the world’s problems, and that is accomplished through grand adventure. The world wide future need a WOW! project.

Consider this: what powered the 1960’s Apollo spacecraft? Hydrogen fuel cells.

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July 21, 2009 Posted by | education, Environment, future, sustainable future | , , , , , | Leave a comment

EnviroEducation

The world wide future belongs to today’s student who learns through solving tomorrow’s challenges

-Michael Scott 2008

[All photos (c) Michael A. Scott, photowagon.ca 2008]

Site of the Macoun Marsh Biodiversity site, Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Laying out the foundation of the outdoor classroom

The outdoor classroom is taking shape

The outdoor classroom is taking shape

Adding the roof

The classroom takes shape

The classroom takes shape

Toward the end of a long work week

Toward the end of a long work week

The outdoor classroom will be used year round by students from all over the city

The outdoor classroom will be used year round by students from all over the city

The outdoor classroom is but a part of the learning experience

The outdoor classroom is but a part of the learning experience

The Macoun Marsh project is an excellent example of the WOW! Project…Dream the Impossible, Do the Incredible. We all learn best by doing, by experiencing for ourselves, by taking ownership of our time and efforts. For the full picture story of the construction of the outdoor classroom in the Macoun Marsh Biodiversity Project, go to photowagon.ca under World of Education.

July 4, 2008 Posted by | biodiversity, education, Environment | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Students become citizens of the future

There is nothing more important to a student’s education than learning through hands-on inquiry about the issues they will face as future citizens.

The issues of ecology, climate change, biodiversity, biotechnology and sustainable development will be at the top of the list of importance in the world wide future of today’s, and tomorrow’s citizens. But are these areas represented in the curriculum? For most jurisdictions, I would hazard to guess: superficially.

Students need to work directly on realistic, wonder inspiring projects (WOW projects!) to learn to survive and thrive in tomorrow’s world. One such project is the Macoun Marsh project in a little corner of Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Under the inspired leadership of elementary school teachers Michael Leveille of St. Laurent Academy, and Clint Monahan of Jean Vanier Catholic School, the students of these schools have identified over 1500 species of plants and animals in a project that lead them to win 2nd place in an international competition sponsored by Volvo Adventure. The monies from the award, and from their subsequent funding drive, paid for the construction of an outdoor classroom, built by a couple of our high schools. Other schools built feeders and bird houses, and future plans were drawn up for a boardwalk, benches and other elements.

Through this project. the students from schools all over the city learned about biodiversity, wetland protection, construction skills and project management. These are lessons for life, it will be something these students will be talking about to their grandchildren. Will they remember their math class?

In 2008, the students and teachers of the project officially partnered with the Canadian Biodiversity Institute and habitat.net to promote and to host the world’s Second Youth Symposium on Biodiversity, in Ottawa in July 2009. As well, the team presented to the United Nations’ Environmental Programme (UNEP) TUNZA in Norway this June 2008. (TUNZA means “to treat with care or affection” in Kiswahili (a sub-regional language of Eastern Africa)
In further news, Clint Monahan has won a 2008 Toyota Prius with his submission to Toyota Canada’s “make things better ” challenge.

The student of today will be the informed citizen (or not) of tomorrow. Our future, our economy, our way of life will be determined by the students who are in our classrooms today. The students of today must be challenged with creating solutions now to prepare them for the world wide future.

Link: The Macoun Marsh Project

Images of the Outdoor Classroom Construction at photowagon.ca

July 1, 2008 Posted by | education | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment