This article was passed along to me, and I just found it amazing. A Canadian high school student used his science fair project to solve a major ecological problem, the biodegrading of plastic.
Obviously this student has been developing the aptitude of Meaning from A Whole New Mind. He took an academic assignment and turned it into a practical step in solving a world-wide crisis.
On a much smaller scale, I have used Meaning in my class projects. I try to have students look at a specific problem in the world. For instance, this past week we looked at poverty. The project was set up as a simulation. Students were to act as ambassadors from a chosen country, and compete for $50 million in United Nations funding.
Students began by researching poverty in a country of their choosing. They looked at specific systemic causes of poverty and researched current programs that were in place to address the poverty of a nation. As an example, a student researched war-torn Uganda and presented a background on the crippling poverty that has hobbled that nation. She then found the “Invisible Children” program and suggested that the UN award be used to expand that program. (I will post more on her project this week)
The final step was student presentations trying to convince the UN to fund their program. They had seven minutes to present and then three minutes to answer questions from myself and the class.
Students really loved it. And meaning was being provided on two levels.
The first level of Meaning is providing realism to the academic topic. You can study science, but what about the very realistic application of using science?
The second level is much more in line with Dan Pink’s traditional definition of Meaning from AWNM. The world has a crisis with its refuse. In our age of abundance we have created externalities that, if not addressed, will threaten our continued prosperity. And this student decided to address those issues. To do something that would help people beyond just himself. Something with Meaning.
Read through the article and see what you can do to enhance the Meaning aptitude of your students. Young people are really eager to help others. Wouldn’t it be great if we could help them to focus that energy into productive, educational pursuits?Share