Science learning in the world around us

December 12, 2015

Our world is advancing rapidly due to scientific innovation. Students and teachers are looking for tools that bridge learning in K-12 schools with these exciting developments. We’re excited to share a subset of our NewSchools Ignite: Science Learning Challenge winners who have developed products that link learning in the classroom to the fascinating real-world application of science.


Take, for example, Ardusat, a company that allows students to design and launch experiments with sensors on a cube satellite – and offers the possibility of conducting these experiments from space as part of their partnership with Spire Global, the fastest growing satellite company in the world. Inspired by launching their own student space programs, schools that use Ardusat enable their students to utilize cube satellite sensors to measure phenomena from magnetism to pollution.

Students participate in an air quality workshop using Ardusat.
Students participate in an air quality workshop using Ardusat.

In connection to current events, Ardusat is rolling out a global student citizen science experiment where a dozen schools around the world conduct simultaneous air quality experiments over a six week period. In light of the recent climate talks in Paris and Beijing’s first red-level air quality rating, understanding the factors that cause pollution and its effects will be key in changing our ecological footprint – crucial issues that today’s K-12 students will address when they grow up. Beyond air quality, Ardusat’s platform can support the design, collection, analysis and sharing of many types of experimentation as students practice real world scientific investigation.

Makers Empire

As we think about the future of technology, one widely adopted process in the technology world is rapid iteration to create ever-evolving products. The first step of this process is to prototype and design a minimum viable product, then to make iterative improvements to achieve the best possible functionality. In a world where the level of complexity for design software is geared towards professionals, how do the entrepreneurs of tomorrow think about physical design?

Cue a tool from the land down under – Makers Empire, an Australian-based 3D design and printing product geared towards students across the K-8 spectrum. Makers Empire allows schools to teach design thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation to our youngest creators. The software can be used as a standalone 3D design tool or for 3D printing if schools have access to printers.

Students use Makers Empire to create and iterate on 3D designs.
Students use Makers Empire to create and iterate on 3D designs.

How could these activities relate to the world outside school walls? To inspire students as creators, Makers Empire often holds design challenges across a range of topics. Recently, students themselves came up with arguably the most meaningful design challenge that’s been run so far. When sixth graders from Perth, Australia found that their teacher’s two-year-old daughter suffers from a condition that makes it difficult to walk with existing medical equipment, they created a classroom challenge to design and build 3D-printed strap clips that will help her walk. Inspired by their creation, the students now see a world of applications where iterative thinking and problem solving can have a significant impact on the world around them.

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As schools shift from a focus on memorizing science facts to engaging in critical analysis and scientific problem solving, tools that connect students to real world applications will inspire the next generation of creators and experimenters across all domains of society.

To learn more about NewSchools Ignite and the Science Learning Challenge, visit