All around the world, social innovators are using technology to tackle big problems — from homelessness to protecting livestock to safeguarding children from COVID-19.
The Tech Interactive, a San Jose, Cal. science and technology center, is bringing the stories of these innovators to schoolchildren through its Tech for Global Good Laureate Program. The aim is to inspire the next generation to imagine what problems they might solve using technology.
“We aren’t teaching kids to code, instead we are teaching them to think of themselves as future problem solvers,’ said Rachel Wilner, vice president of marketing and business development. “We hope that through these stories, students will say, ‘If this person can do it, I can do it.’ “
Each year, four tech laureates are selected by the Tech for Global Good Executive Committee, with a focus on innovators whose stories will resonate with school children. The Tech also aims to highlight different kinds of technology so children have the opportunity to learn about different paths to problem solving.
In 2020, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation sponsored the award given to Opportunity Insights, led by Harvard Professor Raj Chetty, which helps communities rise out of poverty by using data to uncover barriers to economic opportunity.
The Laureate stories are normally shared with The Tech Interactive’s 500,000 annual visitors — including 100,000 children on field trips — through videos displayed on kiosks at the museum. In 2020, The Tech Interactive teamed up with Discovery Education to provide children with the tech laureate stories as “‘virtual field trips” that include lesson plans for teachers.
Nearly 300,000 children have used the Tech for Global Good materials Discovery Education has published — on the first day alone, the virtual field trip reached 41 U.S. states and 13 countries. The Tech Interactive also shares the laureate stories through social media. Their Tik Tok about Opportunity Insights has garnered more than 200,000 views.