The Next MysteryQuest: Science??

Yes, I’m still reading The World is Flat and thinking about implications for my work in videoconferencing. Consider this!

If President Bush is looking for a similar legacy project, there is one just crying out — a national science initiative that would be our generation’s moon shot: a crash program for alternative energy and conservation to make America energy-independent in ten years. (p. 283). 

Could the MysteryQuest format be adapted to a big problem like this? It’s certainly engaging and one that affects high school students who are driving! Whenever we do VC interviews with our senators and representatives, our high school students always ask the gas price question. So they certainly care — and caring about the problem is the first step towards being motivated to work on a solution, right?!

What would this look like for a high school class? The World Environment Day project by Global Leap seems like a good start on this issue. But we need more of these videoconferences! We need them more often! We need them to be global – or at least with two countries participating in each one.

On p. 380-381 are several more “big problems” that might be possibilities for high school science VCs. The Grand Challenges in Global Health project addresses big problems such as

creating effective single-dose vaccines that can be used soon after birth, how to prepare vaccines that do not require refrigeration, how to develop needle-free delivery systems for vaccines, … how to create a full range of optimal bioavailable nutrients in a single staple plant species, how to create immunological methods that can cure chronic infections.

Rick Klausner, who runs these programs for the Gates Foundation, explained the goals of the program,


…to make a moral appeal to the scientific imagination …We wanted the Grand Challenges to say these are the most exciting, scientific things that anyone in the world could work on right now… and to actually direct some of the foundation’s resources to see if we could do it.

And finally chapter 12 describes how the author’s Dell computer was made. Very fascinating picture of the supply chain and work flow process around the world.


The basic design of the motherboard and case … was designed by an original design manufacturer in Taiwan. We put our engineers in their facilities and they come to Austin and we actually codesign these systems. This global teamwork brings an added benefit – a globally distributed virtually twenty-four-hour-per-day development cycle.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a partner class 12 hours away and do a smaller scale design project like this together?! What a learning experience for all the students involved!

I think I need to talk to our science consultant and some of our high school science teachers….. This won’t be an easily developed format, but will be worth it I think. Do you have any ideas??!! Share a comment!

I’ve finished the book now, so this is the last of the “Flat World and VC” blog entries. In August I’m spending quite a bit of time on the BCISD Field Trip Database, so I’ll be writing about what’s new in the VC content provider arena. It won’t be long before school starts and we start scheduling VCs like crazy!

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