In the middle of a chilly January here in Massachusetts, twenty-five young heroes from Seoul South Korea ventured to the Guardian Castle for an out of this world adventure. They suited up in their shiny spacesuits and set a course for the planet Mars.

The adventure began when the travelers arrived, after a long space journey, to the surface of Mars. They were greeted at the martian habitat station where they learned more about how survival on the Red Planet is possible. After all of the formalities, the travelers were given several challenges to help keep the space facility operating smoothly.

A young adventurer creates a robotic arm and programs it using STEMg

They were tasked with engineering Solar Panels using the inverse square law, creating robotic arms, mastering electrolysis to create oxygen, and using hydroponics to grow wheatgrass for food in the station’s greenhouse, just to name a few of the otherworldly lessons. With some solid STEM education and a bit of creativity, the adventurers successfully overcame all of the obstacles and survived their Mission To Mars.

the greenhouse from our mission to mars event Circuitry is presented to students

“I see this as a program just as effective as a school but definitely more interesting,” says instructor Mikey Scofield. “Student-driven learning is more effective than sitting down at a desk and listening to a lecture. It doesn’t matter how good the teacher is, the lecture can only be effective for so long. It’s really important, for STEM subjects specifically, to engage kids and provide an experience for them that’s more interesting, meaningful, and memorable.”

Meghan Gardner, founder of Guard Up, breathes fire for awestruck students

The adventure culminated with a fire breathing demonstration by our founder, Meghan Gardner, as the students explored the idea of atomizing fuel that would otherwise need a wick in order to burn it.

The adventurers may have traveled back to Seoul but STEM education will never leave these castle walls. February school break is just a few weeks away. Give your young hero the gift of knowledge with our weeklong School Break Adventure, complete with lessons, monsters, and foam swords galore. The roster is filling quickly so preregister today before we sell out like last year. We’ll see you there..  Until then, may you find adventure worthy of your skills!



Meghan Gardner in Korea 2019

This summer, I was once again honored to visit Seoul, South Korea as a lead trainer for the STEM Initiative, an educational alliance between ST Unitas (the parent company of The Princeton Review), professors from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Guardian Adventures.

The trip was filled with training, meetings, visiting local destinations, and a banquet of learning for all of us.  As well as meeting our team of 20 teachers and over 100 students, I had the opportunity to interview one of the top executives of ST Unitas who was present at the company’s start: Vision Director Kahee Kim.

My interview with Ms. Kim was eye-opening to me on the cultural differences between Asia and the USA as it pertains to education, business, and even how certain words like “innovation” are defined.  If you are interested in knowing more, join me in the LinkedIn group about Informal Education & Learning.  I will be posting articles there about various interviews I conduct with individuals from around the world as we explore what Informal Learning and Education is and why it’s important.

Each day, Dr. Uche Amaechi and I would be picked up and brought to Seoul National University.  Found in 1946, SNU is considered the most prestigious university in the country (with an international tuition of $5,500 a year – no, that’s not a typo).  We trained the teachers in the curriculum based on the story that all of the students are Mars colonists and trying to survive on Mars while also trying to expand beyond the solar system.

On the last day in Seoul, just as we were leaving for the airport, our hosts asked us to chat with the students who had just arrived for the start of the first session of camp.  Disregarding the fact that both Uche and I were in our informal travel clothes in preparation for a 14 hour plane trip, we agreed to meet with the kids and cheered them on as they stepped into the educational adventure we helped create.  During the meet & greet, we had the opportunity to talk up our Winter Camp where kids from Korea visit the US to attend classes at Harvard and then an immersive adventure at Guardian Adventures.

Outside of working with the generous and diligent students, teachers, and business executives at the STEM Initiative, I was also provided with exquisite culinary experiences, jaw-dropping walks through Seoul’s largest Buddhism temple, and endearing conversations with a number of people about their day-to-day lives and Korean culture.

If you haven’t been to Seoul and have the opportunity, I highly recommend it.  It is a very modern city with gorgeous architecture that looks as if it were designed either 100 years into the future or 500 years into the past.  It’s immensely clean (the subway station especially) and safe.  Many of the residents speak English and are excited about sharing their beautiful city with foreigners.

I came home to discover that Guardian Adventures has been contracted by another international organization to develop educational programs for their clients.  We will share more about this project after the news goes public in November.  But we are very excited to see our company expanding into the global market and helping students of all ages all over the world learn through our educational adventures.  Stay tuned and let’s make this journey together.

 

 


About the Author:


Meghan Gardner is the founder of Guard Up, Inc. which owns and operates Wizards & Warriors and Zombie Summer Camps, programs and events. These educational camps and events are STEM and story-based experience where instead of watching movies or playing video games about heroes, mythological creatures, mystery, and adventure, the campers get to live it. Kids and teens spend the summer playing a character of their own design and fighting monsters with foam swords or NERF Blasters, physics, biology, chemistry, and more. Gardner is also a STEM Curriculum Designer for ST Unitas (the parent company of The Princeton Review), a guest lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and other major universities, and an international speaker on the topic of Informal Education and Learning for all ages.



Normally Mars is 33.9 million miles from Earth.  But for a few days this past January, Mars got a whole lot closer.

After the success of Guardian Adventures founder, Meghan Gardner’s work on the Mission to Mars STEM summer camps in Seoul, Korea last summer, ST Unitas (the parent company of The Princeton Review and the largest Tech Ed company in all of Asia), decided to send their campers to the USA this winter that would take educational adventures to a whole new level.

Students from Seoul, Korea joined The STEM Initiative, a collaboration between ST Unitas, professors and staff from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Guard Up’s Guardian Adventures. This first of its kind collaboration integrates traditional STEM-based learning principles with informal education — experiential and student-driven processes that foster learning through hands-on activity.


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