Saturday, September 12, 2015

Innovation: The Key to Fixing the Eco Problems of the World

Deon Jackson sang in 1966 that "love makes the world go 'round."

He was right. And our world could certainly use more LOVE and less HATE. The nightly news (any day of the week--but especially in the anniversary season of 9/11) will tell you that. But the nightly news will also reveal more than crime in our cities. Wildfires. Droughts. Floods. Climate change (why are we still debating this, people?). Pollution. Marine debris. Deforestation.

Love alone isn't going to handle it.

We also need a heavy dose of innovation & innovators to take the lead, healing our planet by solving the problems we face.  Bill Gates knows it (and just recently wrote about it on his GatesNotes blog). As I've written about, at least 12 young eco leaders were driven by innovation.  The creators of the Hidrate Bottle & the Baltimore trash collecting water wheel were too.  As are people facing drought conditions in California.

Innovation is the springboard, and it is what it will take to make "green fixes of the world."  That means our job as educators is to grow innovators. Sometimes, that spark starts in organically in outdoor experiences during childhood.  Other times, that sparks comes from both those spontaneous teachable moments, while other times it comes in a well-crafted lesson.

2014-11-11-Explorationisthe1.jpgBill Gates spoke about this in his blog post on clean energy innovation at the end of July.  His innovation intention: to invest $1 billion in clean energy over the next 5 years. His view: through innovation, the "pace of progress" can be accelerated. Climate-change wise, poverty-wise, clean-food-wise, anti-pollution-wise.

Here are 8 resources to encourage innovation, investigation, curiosity, critical thinking, & a problem solving mindset (in both students & educators!):
  • "The Last Generation of Kids That Played Outside," the November 2014 Huffington Post article by Nate Hanson
    • This is one of the most powerful articles I have ever read! It continues to linger in my teacher (& parent) brain. The gist: how our current innovators [who have created all the techy gizmos we now love] were outdoor players. This quote is striking, as it reminds me of my childhood. It shows the difference between the bucket of LEGOs I got as a kid, and the instruction-based kits my children now get:
    "You weren't dependent on someone else's creativity and ingenuity. You knew how to dream. You didn't need someone to entertain you or design things for you to have fun with. You could create a game with pinecones and sticks. When this past generation of Apple creators sat down to dream up the next product, I believe they subconsciously drew back on their own 'backyard' roots. They knew how to solve problems because they had solved them before. They knew how to dream up new possibilities because they had been doing that since they were a kid." ~ Nate Hanson
  • 5 Ways To Encourage Kids to Grow Up to Be Innovators by Gwen Moran 
  • 5 ways to get your students started on global PBL projects from ISTE 
    • Whether you begin searching from 5 miles away to 5K, the global project-based learning connects all cultures to solve problems. The article promotes finding a cause, doing the research, using social media both in searching or taking action, and going small and large while looking both locally and globally.  That real world connection is what will make the difference!
  • Choose2Matter 
    • This website is dedicated to inspire folks to work together to creatively tackle social problems. It's an online community for students and teachers, with resources galore to promote collaboration, critical thinking, boldness, bravery, and action in the real world of problem solving.
  • Tech For Good 
    • Here you have a 3 in one: a website. a meetup, and a hashtag: #techforgood. Their mission is to carve the path of innovative solution for social and environmental challenges through technology. The meetup groups at Tech For Good want to unite the "hackers, coders, developers and designers with people who really understand a social problem and want to build digital solutions to social challenges." The Tech For Good TV website houses a number of inspirational videos.
  • Recipe for Innovation 
    • Brought to you by Chobani & Discovery Education, this website is ripe with virtual field trips and actvities for K--12th graders combining entrepreneurship and nutrition education.
  • Filapino Teacher Wins National Outstanding Green-o-vation Award from
    • Here is an example of environmental education innovation...and well deserved accolades.  Jennifer Suzara-Cheng won the 2015 Green Difference Awards this past spring in Massachusets.  Combining STEM and "green" teaching, Ms. Suzara-Cheng has shown the importance of getting kids outside to sharpen their critical thinking skills to solve real world needs.
Innovation is what it's going to take to make the world continue to go 'round.

Deon Jackson album cover; Edith Widder quote from; Chalkboard brainstorm pic from

No comments :

Post a Comment