SXSW EDU 2024: Igniting kids’ curiosity

Andrew Aldrin, Ph.D., president of the Aldrin Family Foundation, joined WorkingNation to share his thoughts on helping students find a passion for learning

Learning about space can ignite young students’ passion for learning, says Andrew Aldrin, Ph.D., president of the Aldrin Family Foundation.

Aldrin joined WorkingNation’s editor-in-chief Ramona Schindelheim for WorkingNation Overheard at SXSW EDU 2024 in Austin.

He notes, “One of the things we do is we’ve got these massive maps of Mars that we designed with the help of a NASA chief scientist. Anything you do on the earth – you can put it on Mars and it’s a lot more interesting.”

“One of the early districts we went into was in South Carolina… and we put it into fourth grade classes,” says Aldrin.  

“What happened was remarkable because we didn’t give them a lot to go on. The teachers, the students with a little bit of shaping and nudging came up with a really incredible idea that each one of these schools picked a location on Mars.”

He continues, “They developed intercolonial relations – one would have water; one was mined for iron or whatever they’re looking at. They created something. And what we got out of it was some significant improvements against science standards for fourth grade kids. You put a little bit of space in there and remarkable things can happen.”

Speaking about learning on the other end of the education spectrum –  graduate education, Aldrin says, “We do a great job in the United States and lots of other places of training engineers, of training electrical engineers, data scientists, all of those kinds of skills. What we don’t do is good a job of is training people to be leaders, to be program managers, to be entrepreneurs.”

Learn more about the Aldrin Family Foundation.