Humanity’s greatest stories live on the edge of a tattered map, our great human narrative stretching from savannah to the stars. Like ancient Polynesians gathering on the shores of a great ocean, we ready ships for unimaginable journeys. Humanity is about to write the next great chapters in human history as we prepare to leave low Earth orbit. This will inspire a firestorm of enthusiasm, not since the 60’s would the fires have burned so bright. If we don’t have a mature capture strategy in place ready to receive and nurture an inspired generation then we deserve the harshest judgment history will arrange.
The edge of a map is an exhilarating place to be. We once populated the edges of our maps with mythical beasts and dragons, symbolizing our fear of the unknown. As we ventured out, pushing the edges of our maps further afield, we systematically removed those dragons from those maps, we became dragon slayers. Poised on the edge of low Earth orbit humanity sharpens its blades and looks out into the black void unfazed by the immense challenge at hand.
This is a powerful narrative, a mechanism that motivates young and old alike. When the foundation of any program is our rich history, and very real future, it becomes a powerful founding tool to inspire.
VPACC co-founder Karl Bushby lived as an adventurer and explorer for more than 20 years, when questioned why he likened it to dandelion seeds. Some of us are simply driven by complex unseen natural forces, it’s deep within our DNA, Its why we struggle to define or answer the question. We are wind driven, its who we are as a species, it’s why we learn, why we venture out, why we do what we do. At the core of VPACC there is a narrative that drives everything.
Space Exploration, Windows Into STEAM
“There are two areas of science that most enthuse people – space and dinosaurs – but the dinosaurs aren’t coming back!” - Kevin Mellett, a senior NASA engineer
Space exploration provides a tailor-made inspirational window into STEM subjects for children and adults alike. No other subject has the potential to infuse inspiration and enthrall the young like space exploration. A self-contained package it provides an excellent platform to engage and motivate children to develop interests and follow these critical STEM subjects. Using space exploration we begin to combine the above discussions into a single game plan. But first let’s explore the importance of space exploration on education and industry. There is a nexus within industry and national interests and the potential benefits to education.
From the ‘UK Civil Space Strategy 2008 – 2012’ British National Space Centre:
“Space activities inspire today’s children and creates the skills for tomorrow’s world. The unique appeal of space to young and old alike offers an unrivaled platform from which to launch activities aimed at encouraging young people to take up careers in scientific and technical fields. We need to maintain and increase the level of awareness of the role of space in our everyday lives and of the UK’s expertise in these fields, and to ensure that the UK is well-equipped with the necessary high-tech skills for tackling future global challenges and contributing to economic growth…”
“…Small scale studies in Scotland and the East Midlands provide growing evidence that including space in the curriculum has a measurable impact on the average performance of children in STEM subjects.”
Human exploration, in its broad concept, would provide a well-rounded package within which to develop and foster interests related to, and that lead into, the technical aspects of human exploration. VPACC views exploration, in its most basic form, as a critical component of what it means to be human, and would argue and emphasize, as so many do, it is nothing short of a survival mechanism. Human expansion, driven by exploration, could arguably be the best chance humanity has of achieving sustainability. Any given opportunity to expose children to these ideals and dreams of inspiring horizons and exploration is a prudent smart strategic move on our behalf.
We can also use the nexus of human space exploration and adventure with terrestrial exploration and adventure is a credible and useful historical context as a relevant stepping stone.
"There's plenty of housework to be done down here on Earth. And our commitment to it must be steadfast. But we're the kind of species that needs a frontier; for fundamental, biological reasons. Every time humanity stretches itself, it receives a jolt of productive vitality that can carry it for centuries.” - Carl Sagan