Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Dreaming to pursue a career in astronomy must be a great thing, but how many people actualize their dreams of becoming astronomers? Yes, you’re right - the answer is not many.
There are a lot of reasons for this, however, the most common and vital reason is the one that we often don’t think of - the education system. The system hasn’t been updated for a while, and it does not address the current needs. By the way, did you know that the current education system was conceived and designed in the 1800s to meet the needs of the industrial revolutionists? The education system needs to be upgraded to prepare the current and future population for the 21st-century economy.
The world has gone through tremendous changes, especially with the penetration of technology. It just doesn’t make sense to apply the same education system that was invented in the 1800s to this era. Isn’t that the same as using horse carriages for your commute to work.
This particular era is more dynamic and it, therefore, demands a change in the education system. A system that is much more focused on equipping learners with skills and knowledge for solving complex 21st-century problems and challenges. A system that nurtures divergent modes of thinking - where there isn’t only one single method of arriving at a correct answer, but rather a myriad way to interpret a question and lots of possible methods to arriving at an answer.
It’s for the lack of reinvention of the education system that there are few people pursuing their careers of interest. There aren’t clear paths to be taken by kids to realize their ‘crazy’ childhood dreams. As kids, if you’re like me, we dreamt of spending our lives doing amazing things - such as colonizing other planets, travelling at the speed of light, being invisible, building rockets, and stashing millions of money - just to end up spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week working in someone’s office doing things you don’t really enjoy.
After passing a certain stage of life, a lot of our aspirations die and we start to replace our ‘crazy’ dreams with much simpler and common ones - such as working as a banker, teacher, doctor, etc. For this too, the education system has to be blamed. What if we could have a system that would immediately take us to classes where we would be trained and continue to be inspired to achieve our initial ‘crazy’ goals? That would be amazing, right? I can’t imagine sitting in a class at a younger age with like-minded people being taught how we can achieve to travel at the speed of light or how to build rockets. I would understand the universe better - I wouldn’t struggle to understand ‘space-time’ or ‘the theory of relativity’.
This is how the system would work:
Immediately parents recognize what their child enjoys doing, they’d fill a certain online form and a list of possible careers that their child might pursue appears instantly. The parents would thereafter be advised on which type of toys and books to buy for their kids to help keep the fire burning. The parents would also know which type of discussions and stories to have with their kids. When a perfect time arrives for such a child to join a school, he/she would be taken directly to a class of like-minded people and go through a curriculum that teaches the learners just how to achieve their dream.
Of course, the soft skills will have to be included in the curriculum to make learning interactive and fun. Also, for the mental wellbeing of the learners, techniques such as meditation will have to be included in the curriculum.
The soft skills will also instill to the learners that collaboration to work on a challenge or class assignment isn’t ‘cheating’ but a great way of learning.
KASA - Kibera Aeronautics and Space Academy - is one of those projects in Kibera that would like to help young people to dream and actualize their dreams. Through the project, the learners will get introduced to 9 courses that are related to space exploration and designed to combine education and fun and stretch the imagination of the learners to think and achieve ‘the impossible’. To achieve this, the curriculum is designed to introduce learners to the technologies, skills, and mindsets that will spark their interest in space exploration while at the same time enabling and inspiring them to tackle real-world problems - such as power shortage, climate change, hunger, etc.
Hence, the learning is optimized to inspire kids to think of real challenges and how to solve them at an early age, something that the education system doesn’t focus much on globally.
One of the 9 courses is Energy Sources of the Future. The introductory part of the course has been developed and can be found here. So far 4 sessions on the course have been delivered, each session lasting for 2 hours. During the sessions the learners get introduced to energy, renewable and non-renewable energy sources, effect of each category on the environment, how Kenya can generate more renewable energy, the impact of increased production of renewable energy to Kenya’s economy, and how energy is used in space exploration to power rockets, space rovers, and satellites.
We need to support such projects as KASA for a better future. The project relies on volunteers to help develop and deliver the courses. Also, for the effectiveness of the sessions, equipment for activities — such as telescopes and solar panels— is necessary.
You can donate to support KASA and help give kids the opportunity to dream and turn their dreams into reality. You can also support by donating equipment such as telescopes, space toys, Google virtual reality boxes, etc (for equipment donations contact email@example.com).