The Explorer Series puts young people, aged 9-14, in charge of challenging design projects. Priced competitively, you can choose between an Earth challenge, or Space challenge. Both will expand your creative, experimental, and interpersonal skills by preparing you to work in a student-led ‘company, to design a complex settlement or community. Four days of lectures, briefings, skill-builders, and problem-analysis prepare you to form your company for your day-long design challenge finale.
Why is this challenge different?
There are three aspects that make us different from other project-based summer activities.
(a) Our challenge is bigger, bolder and bendier. We know how to combine students in larger teams to handle bigger workloads. Boldness comes from our focus on industry-scale thinking, rather than academic-scale thinking. Space missions to Mars and Earth missions for sustainability are mega-projects that are real. Bendiness comes from our challenges having many possible paths to a solution: many bends, curves, loops, go-arounds make for a much more creative challenge than a project with a ‘straight line’ to an answer.
(b) We trust youth to handle serious complexity (to rise to the challenge and produce discussion-worthy designs as a company) because we have experience. Experience breeds confidence breeds trust which enables bolder challenges to be set.
(c) We provide students with evidence-based confidence in their ability to handle complexity after giving them four days of preparation to engage in the complex challenge. We replace “Am I good enough?” with “Look what we did!”
Where is it held?
In London, UK. London has been, and remains, a great city with a ‘melting pot’ of ideas, cultures, traditions, and invention. It is the only city with six international airports (even New York only has three) and it truly ‘international’: 40% of the population of London come from non-UK backgrounds. It is an easy city to visit. Although big, it is often described as a ‘collection of villages’, each with distinctive characteristics but all belonging to London.
What is special about the specific location of the Explorer Series?
It is an astonishing ‘village’ which brings together seven great institutions of sciences, technology, arts, and business. It was created to show that all disciplines, all research, learning and performance should come together as one endeavour.
What are those institutions?
The Natural History Museum; the Science & Industry Museum; the V&A Museum of Arts and Design; the Royal College of Art; the Royal College of Music; The Royal Albert Hall and, the place which we use as a venue, Imperial College London (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine). These are all next-door neighbours, jam-packed between two grand avenues, and across the road from two lovely royal parks known as Kensington Palace Gardens and the Hyde Park.
Who had this bold vision?
Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, was a genuine fan of sciences, engineering, arts, music, and enterprise. He staged the Great Exhibition of 1851 and it was so profitable that they could afford to buy up the land and build seven world-class institutions. It is this type of ‘grand vision’ that we seek to inspire in our Explorers.
How will I benefit? Why should I do an Explorer Challenge?
We present not just a series of lectures, nor just a series of exercises. We provide things to know but also set you up to realise how much more of your own experiences, insights, and creativity you can tap into. We set you up to need to use what you know. We set you up to recognise what you don’t know and who to ask or how to research information. We set you up to need to be willing to defend your own ideas, listen to the ideas of others and, – just like in real-life companies, – work out which ideas to pursue and which ones to adapt or leave. Leaning to let go of first ideas, so that you can be more ambitious with your second, third and fourth ideas, is a great experience; it is one that admissions officers at universities are usually keen to hear about.
Who is behind YEScience.org? The level of experience of our Explorer Staff Team is high-level. Since 2009 we have run the challenge activity around the UK and Europe and online for Asia. Our Director of Education Jenny Lyons is an expert specialist science teacher for UK schools and our Chief Educational Developer, Alison Ahearn, taught at Imperial for almost 30 years and won awards for educational innovation which became a centrepiece of Imperial’s civil engineering curriculum. Our Founder is Dr Randall Perry whose passion for multidisciplinary learning and achievement is reflected in his identities as a Fellow in Astrobiology at Imperial College London (and previously Oxford University) as well as being a published novelist, an exhibited artist and an intrepid traveller. Experience of making the events work administratively for thousands of participants in our challenges is reflected in the expertise of our Administrator, Sam Hessions whilst our online communications are developed across many activities by Bethan Mann. A phalanx of veterans of our activities have become industry professionals and supporters, as well as many current university students across a wide array of UK and international universities.