THE DIRE NEED FOR CHANGE
Some things aren't working these days. At the moment, due to COVID-19, things are on hold as we re-evaluate every aspect of our lives, including the foundations of our society. For now, we must successfully get through the acute health crisis of a global pandemic and the immediate challenges of containment and care. However, we must also be sure to not ignore or neglect the challenges on the horizon and how we can be prepared for those.
Long term, there is no greater challenge to human survival on this planet than the effects of Climate Change. The impact Climate Change is already having on our world must be addressed, as it affects so many other aspects of our lives: weather patterns, water quality, air quality, crop yields, fisheries populations, livestock, industry, commerce...the list goes on. The cascading effects of a warmer world seriously threaten our way of life. And, as the COVID-19 virus is now demonstrating in all-too-vivid detail, there are additional challenges from immunological threats, both known and unknown.
Solutions to these challenges will not come from denying them, ignoring them, or hiding them. Solutions to these challenges will come from those we call "explorers"—scientists, engineers, inventors, artists, creators—those who understand the importance of data and how discernment and a scientific method of inquiry can lead us to viable solutions. How do we create future generations of scientists, engineers, inventors, artists, and creators? By doing a much better job with education today.
You may ask why there must be urgency if the greatest impacts of Climate Change will not be felt for another 20-30 years, between 2040 and 2050? Because, if you do the math, the STEAM experts who will be in the workforce at the front lines, dealing with those challenges in 2040 and 2050... they are the students in school today. It is the students in grades K-12 who will bear the brunt of Climate Change's impact and therefore they must be prepared to face these global challenges. If they are to become experts in climate science or water quality or coral conservation, they must discover those passions now and continue to fan those flames and deepen those interests over the next 20 years.
The success of our pilot studies in Ohio classrooms has been encouraging. We have proven (confirmed via third-party evaluation) that the Explorer At Large program engages students and teachers and gives them both a mindset and skillset to succeed as curious and courageous explorers. What we need now is scale. We must bring this program to more schools, more districts, more states, more countries...through both Partner Location programs and online / distance learning.
Students today must be trained to have an explorer's mindset and skillset that gives them the best chance to successfully face future challenges. This is why Explorer At Large feels the urgency of our mission, to take our program to scale and create generations of curious and courageous explorers around the world. We must start now as any later will be too late. Every school year, every classroom, every student matter, and each student could make a difference with her or his ingenuity and leadership.
We invite you to support Explorer At Large in meeting this challenge so we can help students today become the explorers needed to successfully face the challenges of tomorrow.