Future-proof knowledge for a changing world
This week, we were fortunate to have Dr. Carol O'Donnell, director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) visit our headquarters in Aarhus. As director of the center, Carol is responsible for all operational activities, planning and conducting programs that support the professional growth of teachers and school leaders. She also oversees all the research, curricular resource development, and philanthropic development.
The work of the Smithsonian Science Education Center becomes increasingly relevant when dealing with the global challenges of the future, the needs of a shifting workforce and the lightning speed of innovation. Carol used as an example the time span for mass adoption of some common products. It took 38 years for the radio to appear in at least 50,000 households, for the TV that took less than half of the time,13 years. Cell phones spread around the world in just 7 years and Facebook reached 50,000 users in 2 years! Today, a mobile app can reach 50,000 users in a weekend, at least that's all the time Pokemon Go took to reach 50,000 players!
How can we prepare for such a fast-changing world and how can we keep our knowledge relevant and up-to-date? The Smithsonian Science Education Center puts great emphasis on life-long education and strongly believes in cultivating an interest in science in children from a young age. Curiosity, the exploration of problems and investigation are the first key steps towards a sustainable and robust mindset and a scientifically literate society.
The change starts locally
The SSEC has taken on the challenge to move the project to the next level by incorporating the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals into an educational and citizen science setting. They have translated a seemingly huge goal into actionable pieces of knowledge that everyone can contribute to. The center believes that it is increasingly important to create global change by local action. This means encouraging local investigation in home or school, enabling empowerment by knowledge to help make informed decisions for local action.
Mosquito! - The community research guide
How can we ensure health for all from mosquito-borne diseases? You might think that your local area is not affected by this problem. However, with the growing issue of climate change, mosquito-borne diseases could soon affect new areas of the world. Another common belief is that one person's action is not able to effect such big issues, even less when talking about children. However, with well-targeted information, even an 8-year-old can make a difference! An easy action to take locally against mosquito-borne diseases is not leaving open water around the house. If children are presented with this in the right manner in school, they are likely to take this information home and improve the living circumstances of many at home, in the village, in the country, etc.
Creating a global learning experience that is locally relevant by combining STEM activities with civic responsibility is essential to make the world a better place. At ScienceAtHome, our latest project ReGAME incorporates our Citizen science games with learning tracks to support core curriculum studies within schools. We hope to collaborate with Carol and the Smithsonian Science Education Center in the future to further improve global learning.