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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Curiosity Leads to Passion

Are you a parent, teacher, or adult community member? If your answer to any of these is yes, odds are you are an unwitting role-model. Kids are curious about adults. Child's play is centered around imitating what they see adults do in their day-to-day lives.

Youngsters aren't so much interested in "careers" as they are in the adults who function in various roles. They are naturally curious, says Jay Matheson, Coordinator of Technology and Media Services at one of twenty regional education service districts in Oregon. Jay's project, Extending Career Options for Rural Students was the inspiration for Connecting Students to STEM Careers . "I don't know if kids are really curious about jobs, but they are curious about adults and about what adults do. You never know when you're going to come across an interest in a child."

Young people in classrooms around the world are also interested in each other, in cultures and social environments different than their own, or located in a different town, state, or country. With the advent of social media, we as world citizens are becoming more and more connected. The concept of a melting pot has taken a virtual twist. Students can build relationships with peers in classrooms on the other side of the world. They are connecting with scientists, educators, doctors, authors....It's about developing relationships, satisfying curiosity, and stumbling upon a passion that might change the course of someone's life.

There is a classroom partnership program called ePals that provides a platform for students to collaborate from classroom to classroom, from country to country. A Global Learning Community, ePals serves millions of students in approximately 200 countries, supporting student-to-student distance collaborations through the use of blogs and wikis, podcasts and videocasts. Partnerships are also established in simple formats such as emails, supported by translation services, file-sharing and virus protection.

Through online programs like ePals, kids  learn how to develop relationships and satisfy basic curiosities about life in the outside world. With the guidance of parents and teachers, these relationships can help inform them about the world, about the importance of what they are doing in the classroom.

If you are aware of similar applications for K-12 students, please feel free to share.

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