In an opinion piece for Wired, Harvard Professor David Edwards describes the importance of discovery-oriented programs to help prepare children for the modern world. Remarking on the current education system, he writes,
Our math skills are falling. Our reading skills are weakening. Our children have become less literate than children in many developed countries. But the crisis in American education may be more than a matter of sliding rankings on world educational performance scales.
What we need, according to Edwards, is programs that encourage students to embark on a personal process of discovery,
Learning by an original and personal process of discovery is a trend on many US university campuses, like Stanford University, MIT, and Arizona State University. It also shows up in middle school, high school and after school programs, as in the programs supported by the ArtScience Prize, a more curricular intensive version of the plethora of innovation prizes that have sprung up in the last years around the world. Students and participants in these kinds of programs learn something even more valuable than discovering a fact for themselves, a common goal of “learning discovery” programs; they learn the thrill of discovering the undiscovered. Success brings not just a good grade, or the financial reward of a prize. It brings the satisfaction that one can realize dreams, and thrive, in a world framed by major dramatic questions. And this fans the kind of passion that propels an innovator along a long creative career.
In Maryland, the Maryland Innovation Initiative intends to foster the commercialization of technologies through technology validation, market assessment, and the creation of start-up companies in Maryland with several hundred thousand dollar awards. The Initiative is administered by TEDCO, an entity created by the Maryland State Legislature in 1998 to facilitate the transfer and commercialization of technology from Maryland’s research universities and federal labs into the marketplace and to assist in the creation and growth of technology-based businesses in all regions of the State.
The ArtScience Prize awards $100,000 annually to high school student groups to realize innovative project ideas generated in the classroom. Student projects focus on concepts in the arts and design fused with cutting-edge areas of study in the sciences. These project concepts start as “seed ideas” proposed by artists, designers, scientists, and entrepreneurs that evolve in collaborative classes lead by skilled adult Program Mentors into innovative project ideas. The ArtScience Prize currently operates sites in Boston, Massachusetts (U.S.A.), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (U.S.A.), Twin Cities, Minnesota (U.S.A.). For more information, see the video above or ArtSciencePrize.org.