Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Day 3: The Final Frontier

In the summer of 2015, a group of about twenty students in grades K-11 undertook a monumental task: run the world. Every decision - from trade to competition to war - was made by these young leaders. They could approach adults for advice, but the young leaders ultimately built this world. This series of blog posts documents how a group of children dealt with some of our planet's greatest challenges.

Space: the final frontier.

Since the dawn of humanity, people have looked up to the sky and wondered. What's out there? Are we alone? And will we ever know?

Decades ago, the world watched as a human set foot on the planet’s moon. But never before had a human walked on another planet.

Perhaps now was the time.

The countries of the world began a space race to reach another planet. The launch window was short - right in between the end of recess and parent pick-up time - and time was of the essence.

The day before, we had our first international trade deal between Teen Land and Anyone's Land. Glue sticks were involved in the trade.
You might be asking, why would a country trade for glue sticks?
The different countries had a different collection of supplies. Some had glue sticks, paper, and pencils. Others had pens, markers, and duct tape. Some had water colors. Others had paint brushes.

Teen Land had soda, water, and baking soda, but no vinegar,
mentos, or corks!
On this day, some countries had diet Coke. Some had mentos. Some had vinegar. Some had backing soda. Some had corks. Some had empty water bottles. Some had foam board.

Soon after the start of the day, trade talks began in earnest. The leaders had to design a rocket, determine how to power it, secure the parts needed to make the rocket, and build the contraption before 1:15 PM! And, knowing that the launch could take a while, the countries had to be ready to submit their national decisions within minutes of returning from the launch.

Finally, the countries had an opportunity to make national flags with our resident art teacher. And the flags were very impressive!


The day flew by, and it was time for the countries to have their rockets fly up.

In order to send a crew to another planet, the countries had to launch a rocket that went straight up into the air. The rocket that went the highest would reach the other planet first.

The first country to launch their rocket would be The 3rd Graders.

After much sputtering due to a faulty plug, The 3rd Graders' rocket failed to launch.

The next group was Teen Land.

Teen Land tried to reverse engineer a mentos-soda combination by pouring the soda onto the mentos. But this demonstrated the secret of the mentos-soda "reaction" - it is in fact not a chemical reaction, but a physical one in which the mentos, when dropped into soda, break the surface tension of the liquid and allow the carbon dioxide to fervently escape.
Teen Land's rocket failed to launch.

The third group to go was Tiger.

Tiger had successfully bottled up a baking soda-vinegar reaction! Their rocket launched, giving all of humanity hope for the future of space exploration.

The final group to launch was Anyone's Land. Their rocket was called Anyone's Rocket.

Like so many countries before them, Anyone's Land failed to launch.

On the third day, 3 of the 4 major countries deployed troops.
Tiger returned triumphant, having achieved perhaps humanity's greatest technological feat. But the joy in the world was soon put on hold. At the end of the day, the world saw The 3rd Graders, Teen Land, and Tiger deploy the first military forces.

Thanks to Tiger, for the first time ever, a human set foot on another planet. A global space race in a world of scarcity accelerated trade, led to a deeper understanding of what it means to have and have not, and pushed countries to form militaries. In the end, the country of Tiger was the only one able to carry the banner of their world onto another.

Although Tiger's accomplishment was unparalleled, perhaps the greatest accomplishment on this day was the fact that every country chose to participate in the search for something out there. Even the world's poorest country chose to pursue exploration into the unknown, without any promise of reward.

The curiosity of humanity never burns brighter than it does within the mind of a child.

Most of our leaders also tasted defeat, and for some the experience was emotionally overwhelming. Our fantasy world can feel real at times. But, at the end of the day, we want our leaders to learn from their experiences. The emotion shows an attachment, a passion that is unrequited by failure. But failure is good. Failure teaches. And here, at our summer academy, of all places in the real world, we want to be a safe place to fail. One reason why we are graphing our countries' happiness is to show that even a sad country can one day be happy again. We move forward without forgetting our past.

So ended the third day. The fourth would bring a new level of intrigue to an increasingly tense world: Espionage.

Day 1: And the Children Shall Lead
Day 2: Global Climate Change and the Art of Negotiation

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