Edtech News Round Up: Elon Experiments with Education, And Why Classrooms Need Curiosity

edtech news July 3

From outer space to inner spaces: Is Elon Musk preparing to lead the way in learning?


First Space, then Auto – Now Elon Musk Quietly Tinkers with Education

Elon Musk has founded an exclusive school called Ad Asta within the SpaceX Headquarters. For the past 4 years, Ad Astra, an experimental non-profit school, has been having students work on projects dealing with robots, nuclear politics and the future of AI.

The study body is made up of about 40 students with the average age of 10. Children aged from 7 to 14 work together in groups on projects. The Ad Astra student body currently includes Elon Musk’s 5 children as well as the children of SpaceX employees.

The school is more like a venture capital incubator than a traditional school with few formal assessments and no grades. Ad Astra students take part in some difficult challenges, trade using their own currency and can stop taking classes they do not enjoy.

The long-term future of the school is unclear as many are not sure what will happen when Musk’s children are no longer in attendance. The school is keeping a lower profile than the most startups. Their website consists of a logo and an email but despite this, it is one of the most sought-after schools in LA due to Elon Musk’s affiliation.

Amazon Staff to Bezos: Stop Selling Tech to Law Enforcement, Palantir

Amazon staff are pleading for their CEO Jeff Bezos to stop selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement and government agencies. The Amazon staff believe that this technology may be used to target and harm the most marginalized civilians.

In addition, they are also asking for Amazon to stop selling AWS cloud services to data analytics firm Palantir. Palantir has several government contracts. It is also involved in the ICE programs responsible for detaining and deporting immigrants.

In May, these programs implemented a policy that separated children of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants from their parents. This resulted in children being housed in tent cities and cages.

The staff of Amazon state they refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights. They are calling on the CEO to implement transparency and accountability measures to provide insights on how Amazon’s services are used by these law enforcement agencies.

The Benefits of Cultivating Curiosity in Kids

Curiosity lies at the heart of all research, but curiosity itself is the subject of some recent studies on its role in the classroom, which make a strong case that educators should teach young minds to embrace their inquisitive nature.

The research also suggests a correlation between curiosity and happiness as well as social skills. In an academic context, curiosity generally predicts greater success.

A recent study of 6,200 children and found that a high level of curiosity was linked to higher math and literacy skills with kindergarteners. Curiosity is also linked to a smaller achievement gap between students of different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Neuroscience can be used to explain the power of curiosity in students. When we are curious our brain’s activity changes in a way that helps us retain new information.

But how can teachers find a way to encourage interests in what’s happening in the classroom? The answer is simple, allow kids to follow their interests, connect topics to what students care about and show students how their academic skills fit into the bigger picture.

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