The Fury of Nature

The first time I watched The Day After Tomorrow, it seemed unrealistic. Today, after several years of changing global weather patterns, and severe storms, including Hurricane Sandy, it seems far more likely to happen. 

Critical Questions: 

Are we prepared? If not, how prepared do we need to be?

Is the frequency of natural disaster increasing?  Are things getting more insane? 


Let’s look into and discuss a couple of case studies in the natural disaster department. Is there anything we can do about this, or are we doomed? Use this form to organize your thoughts. 


“What Breaks Your Heart?”

We’ll work to identify the larger issues in the world that really cause you great sadness… things that break your heart that you wish you could change about the world. We’ll do this every Friday.  By the end of the year, you will be producing SOMETHING that addresses the problem. You will obey “the code.”

The code: “I promise to give all of my genius to this problem. I will not hold back. 

  • Promise to give all your genius to this subject–no holding back.
  • Promise to reach out and network on your issue–research the problem, communicate with others in the world, get people to support you on this.
  • Promise to do everything you can to move forward on this issue. You will change the world!

This activity has evolved from the lesson I’ve started with you already. On Fridays, we were working to identify issues on the world stage to become experts. You each chose themes you most wanted to research. You’d be the experts.

Yesterday, I had the chance to attend an amazing speech by Angela Maiers where she took the lesson we were going to do to the next level.  She asked “What breaks your heart about these issues? What are you going to do about it.” Truth is, we have amazing power we often fail to use. 

I changed our long-term lesson to include elements of Angela’s project.  Her quote to all students is “You are a genius. The world needs your contribution.” This is something we’ve said in this class, but sometimes we don’t take the time to act. This year, we won’t hold back!

The moral of the story: As you connect with your friends, family, communities, and the outside world, the ideas you have get better. You meet people who help you make things happen. You feed off other people’s energy, ideas, connections, and resources… and you change the world.  “Together, we are smarter.”  It was a theme I heard not only in Angela’s talk–she brought students to tell us their experiences, too, but it was a theme I heard over and over from the nation’s top innovators. The more we connect, the better we can make things happen!

“The Rich Get Richer”

This is the title of a post taken from The Economist showing how incomes have changed over the last hundred years.  The Business Insider’s numbers are shocking as well. This is worth noting. It’s important to look at situations in the economy that cause economic downturn, but also to examine periods of recovery, as well. There’s always money to be made in both times–successful entrepreneurs see areas of opportunity in both times. Great wealth has been made in even the most troubling of economic times.

Critical Questions: 

1. What are some of the trends you see in these numbers?

2. What are the possible consequences of these trends?

3. What types of opportunities are available for you in an economy where it is getting harder to make money and harder to find a stable job that you’ll keep for the rest of your life? People do not stay at one job for their whole lives like they did two generations ago. How can you convert opportunities into a livelihood?


Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 5.38.48 AMYou go to the faucet. You drink.

You take an hour-long shower after practice.

You leave the water running while you brush your teeth.

Nobody calls the plumber for a leak.

These are issues that could never happen in many parts of the world–because there is no water.

According to, right now, our planet is in a global water crisis. .3% of water is accessible.  “Water is very local.” It’s expensive to access and not usable in many parts of the world.  The demand for water outpaces the supply.

Critical questions:

What are some of the issues surrounding water issues?

What is necessary for agriculture? Can it be reduced or repurposed?

What can the average consumer do to reduce consumption?

Can we create potable water sources?

How can we redistribute water to those in need?

How does water affect geopolitics?

How do we stop water wars?


Use these Learnist resources on water to help you become more informed on the water issues facing the world today. Make your own board educating us about critical water issues we have not yet considered.


[image:  Water crisis in S. Sudan]




The Ten Things That Affect You…

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 5.27.29 AMWe take the world for granted. There are issues all around us that need to be solved. Issues on a local, regional, and national level sometimes loom unsuspecting on the horizon…they don’t always seem to affect us, but they do.

Critical Question: 

What are the ten most critical issues facing the world today?

How do they affect YOU?

This year, we will investigate this question. Current Events isn’t always about the broadcast news, although that’s part of how we get our information. We need to be able to get accurate information, filter it for perspective, spin, and identify key problems. Only then can we solve them.

Please discuss the critical question in the comments.