Cosmos Education: Engaging, Empowering, Inspiring

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known – Carl Sagan

These are the words on the back of more than 200 T-shirts the SETI Institute donated to Cosmos Education – a grass-roots non-profit dedicated to science and technology education and the role of science and technology in health, the environment, and sustainable development. Our model is simple – we seek to engage, empower, and inspire youth in developing countries through hands-on learning activities and experiments. Students learn about the molecular structure of water by pretending to be oxygen and hydrogen atoms; they learn about how soap works by doing experiments with soap, water, and oil; they learn about the HIV virus by constructing a human chain model of DNA. These and our many other activities capture the curiosity of students and get them asking questions about the world in which they live.

Indeed, the name Cosmos Education is in part a tribute to Carl Sagan and his capability and vision for synthesizing ideas and information across so many disciplines. When our team enters a classroom, one of our key goals is to get the students thinking about the many challenges facing humanity today and how so many of those challenges are intimately linked. Health and the environment, the environment and pollution, pollution and technology, technology and development… the list goes on. The challenges we face can only be overcome by thinking about the system as a whole – by recognizing that our planet, our pale blue dot, is indeed our collective home.

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By Kevin Hand SETI Institute

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