Fun has a lot to do with exploration. Exploration leads effortlessly to new capabilities and enhanced learning. Want more of that in your child’s life? Time for Mission: Explore.
They recently introduced their newest project, an online summer camp that actually draws kids away from the screen. It’s 100 days of challenges designed to get kids moving, making discoveries, and using their imaginations. The program has strong safety policies and distinct educational goals crafted by such notable organizations as National Geographic, John Muir Trust, and other outdoor and educational organizations. Kids won’t mind. Once they join they’ll be off on daily missions. That might be climbing the height of a mountain on a staircase or making a people nest or wearing a secret disguise. Kids can choose from all sorts of missions like these.
- Change water’s course: Get water to go the way you want it to. You can experiment with dams, weirs, wheels, pumps, or just asking nicely.
- Treasure hunt: Find things that are: funny, disgusting, wonderful, nice but nasty, green, attached to something else, and unidentified. Extra kudos if you find something that is two or more at the same time!
- Become a remote sensor: Turn a digital camera into a satellite. Hover it above the ground and take a picture of the view below.
- Pick up ice with string: Can you pick up ice using just a piece of string and some salt? Can you do it without tying any knots? Give it a try…watch out for cold fingers!
- Create a garden atlas: Make an atlas of a garden for someone who is the size of your little finger.
- Macro photograph a micro world: Explore from a bug’s-eye view. Take photos of a place close-up to make a tiny place look like a whole new world or ecosystem. Can you find the hidden jungle in your backyard or playground?
- Pack your bags: Disaster strikes! What do you pack in your bag to help you survive? Send us a photo of your packed bag or a sketch of your plans.
- Design a creature: You’re on Mercury, a planet that can reach temperatures as high as 465°C and as low as -184°C. Design a creature that could survive on this planet.
- Fall in love: Fall in love with a tree and write it a ballad proclaiming your undying affection. Make it super slushy and embarrassing!
The challenges are designed to be quirky, creative, and engaging. As kids complete missions they can collect points and unlock rewards. Mission: Explore has a lot more to offer. You’ll want to look into their series of unique, pocket-sized books packed with activities that are made to be marked up and smeared as they’re used. Try Mission: Explore Food, with over 270 pages of strangely enticing ideas. The e-book version is currently free (although harder to write all over).
Daniel Raven-Ellison is a founder of the Geography Collective, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and one of the people who created Mission: Explore. He explains, “There is a serious side to what we are doing. Our activities inspire children to explore, play, and learn outdoors. There is a raft of research that shows how doing this benefits children’s health and education. It also helps busy parents by providing lots of ideas for things they can do with their children.”
He’s dedicated to equipping kids with what they need to explore the future, playfully and meaningfully. Check out his TED talk on the subject. And start exploring!
GeekMom received review copies of Mission: Explore books.
Laura Grace Weldon is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending as well as Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm with her family where she's working on her new project, Subversive Cooking.com. and blogging optimistically.