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How does it differ from traditional high school?
Traditional High School
What is Future Earth Academy?
Future Earth Academy is a departure from industrial era models of education. It is a new model that invites high school aged learners to amplify and accelerate engagement in the real world through direct mentorship by practitioners in emerging fields and technologies. Learners have voice and choice in what issues they engage and how, and all activity is guided by purpose, ethics and a custodial responsibility for community and biosphere.
How much does it cost?
There is no cost to the learner. This is because we believe that education as a commodity promotes social stratification and prejudice. When a family's ability to pay is irrelevant, the pool of applicants can be truly diverse and applicants can be considered strictly for fit with the mission and priorities of the program. What is more, once in the program, learners know that the criteria for admission was equal for all and that economic status played no part in selection.
Where do graduates go after completion?
Each learner is supported by two Opportunity Counselors. One advises the learner based on traditional postsecondary pathways (e.g., college). This counselor has substantial experience as an admissions officer in a top-tier university and guides learners in how to document and communicate their experiences in ways that are acceptable for traditional institutions.
What is the curriculum?
The curriculum is project-based and defined by the needs and priorities of the community where the physical school is located, whether the learner is attending school on-site or remotely.
In the case of the first Future Earth Academy, the curriculum centers around the custodianship and sustainable development of the community - Gowanus, Brooklyn - as it navigates gentrification, Superfund site cleanup, and the environmental impact expected from climate change.
In this context, the broad curriculum project categories include (but are not limited to):
Sustainable urban design
Toxic waste cleanup
Gentrification and community impact (social, political, economic)
Historic preservation of the environment and architecture
Field Mentors (practitioners in biotech and related fields, emerging STEM, and/or fields related to the above categories) work with learners to brainstorm project ideas.
Learners are encouraged to explore each project through a variety of lenses, including those of science, the arts, journalism, sociology, economics, history and more.
All learners are involved in this process - those at the physical location in Gowanus and those participating remotely. They work together to identify ways in which the conditions in Gowanus parallel those in the communities of the remote learners.
For example, they may determine that water quality is an issue common to each learner's environment and so develop a project that invites learners in Gowanus and those across the globe to collaborate on this issue. Everyone benefits from seeing how the results of their research and application compare.
Sample projects might include:
* water remediation/treatment
* sewage, wastewater and bioenergy
* genetics and habitat restoration
* native flora preservation
* ecologies and sustainable development
* population density and multispecies habitats
Find a more detailed Curriculum Framework here.
What is a typical day?
Below are typical daily activities. Times vary depending on the work taking place and the opportunities for field experience or public interaction, but most activity is planned at least 3-4 weeks in advance. Some opportunities arise with less notice, and schedules are adjusted accordingly.
An Academy-wide online weekly schedule governs all collaborative work, mentor appointments and office hours, participation in community events (e.g., public meetings), "house responsibilities" (e.g., cleaning up common spaces) and group social outings. This schedule includes all remote and on-campus activities.
With the support of SEMs, learners create their own personal weekly schedules for individual pursuits or self-directed learning.
On a typical day...
...some learners gather at a work site (in VR, in the field or on campus) to work with one or more Field Mentors on an application (e.g., testing water samples).
What technologies, applications or technical skills will learners explore?
A priority of the Academy is putting emerging technologies in the hands of young learners to amplify and accelerate their opportunities for contribution to current issues and to invite them to the bigger "conversation" around how these technologies are, should and could be used.
What non-tech related skills can a learner expect to develop?
Who are the faculty and what are their qualifications?
The Director leads the entire organization, remote and campus-based. This is the visionary leader who nurtures a cohesive, collaborative community across all members of Future Earth Academy. The Director also facilitates connections and relationships for the Academy with the wider world, including academic, non-profit, for-profit and governmental organizations. This individual brings significant experience leading youth-based organizations, a solid STEM foundation and a career built on a vast cross-disciplinary network of professional relationships.
Remote Learning Director
The Remote Learning Director leads the remote program, providing visionary guidance in the use of immersive technologies and remote approaches to learning. This leader works closely with the Director and SEMs to ensure that the remote program is consistent with the campus program in supporting the core Future Earth Academy elements. The Remote Learning Director gives particular attention to the power of immersive tech to nurture empathy and cross-cultural relationships. This leader has substantial experience in immersive tech and its application to learning.
Opportunity Counselor (Traditional)
The Traditional Opportunity Counselor advises the learner based on traditional postsecondary pathways (e.g., college). This counselor has substantial experience as an admissions officer in a top-tier university and guides learners in how to document and communicate their experiences in ways that are acceptable for traditional institutions.
Social-Emotional Mentors (SEMs)
SEMs are professionally trained counselors and have significant experience facilitating youth. These mentors are with students year-round, some 24/7. SEMs play a critical role in the program, nurturing healthy relationships among learners, supporting each learner's personal growth and development, and ensuring that Field Mentors and Guest Mentors use best practices when facilitating learners in project activities.
Field Mentors must currently be using one or more of the targeted emerging technologies or applications in a corporate, university, NGO, public or other highly credible environment. These mentors spend an average of 3-6 months a year in the program interacting with learners.
Guest Mentors have the same qualifications as Field Mentors but spend an average of 4-8 weeks in the program interacting with students. They visit for short periods or make single appearances when their expertise is relevant and most helpful to the phase of the work.
How is assessment done?
Assessment is first and foremost the property of the learner and is never imposed. Rather, each member of the Future Earth Academy is supported in building evaluation practices that have integrity of purpose. Here, assessment must always help learners achieve two objectives: 1) measure and document their work and growth for their own intrinsic purposes, and 2) communicate the value of their work and growth effectively with others.
Each learner is asked to define goals, which can cover fundamental academics such as language and mathematics, personal skills like perseverance or patience, executive functioning like time management or memory, or field skills like DNA sequencing or data analysis.
Some learners may wish to target skills in collaboration and facilitation, public speaking and communicating around scientific understandings, or even life balance and relationships.
Early evaluation rubrics and designs for learners are drawn from what the Student Review Panel learns about them as they move through the vetting process. There is always a direct connection between the skills and possibilities noted by the Student Review Panel and the learner's process of setting goals and evaluating progress.
SEMs, Mentors and Opportunity Counselors all work to ensure that learners always have a clear sense for how their documentation will be interpreted by postsecondary institutions and professionals in their preferred fields.