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BLUE-SKY Learning

What is blue-sky learning?

BLUE-SKY Learning is a mindset focused on a hyper-ambitious task or goal (Big Hairy Audacious  Goal).  It requires a growth- mindset, envisioning success beyond where you are in the present. You envision accomplishing a task that has not yet been done.  You must maintain a positive attitude.  By tackling a Blue-Sky goal you will have setbacks and failures. They are excellent learning points.  You must persevere, endure, and strive to accomplish a Blue-Sky goal.

It also requires collaborations, building teams and be a good team member to meet your Blue-Sky goal.  You must be flexible.  Keep the end goal in mind, but don’t be so rigid that you can’t allow the path you take to your goal to vary.  Be resolve to obtain your Blue-Sky goal.  Blue-Sky learning allowes you tackle impossible task.  Students are able to acheive far more than they ever believed they could. 

BLUE-SKY Learning TED Talk

What is the Value of BLUE-SKY Learning?

  • Development of Human Capital
  • Inspires the Next Generation
  • Real-world, authentic Science and Engineering
  • Emphasis on Teamwork and Creativity
  • Better fills the STEAM Pipeline
  • “ Techies and Talkies ”

How to get Started at your school.

Embrace a ridiculous, audacious BLUE-SKY goal

Identify a teammate or two that will embrace your vision

Identify incremental milestones…  they either become wins or  areas for improvement  (tethered, HAB, ThinSat)

The 5th ‘C’: Make external connections to Academia, Industry, Government, Non-profits, and the World

Create programs in your schools/community

TED Talk

Distinguished Speaker Series

Science Fair/Museums


Group Challenges or Competitions

Find and join professional organizations

Space Foundation Teacher Liaison

AIAA Educator Associate

ISS Explorer Ambassador


Today authentic and real-world academic success may be attained by focusing student efforts on solving the impossible, e.g. by tackling a “blue-sky” problem. Removing plastic waste from our oceans, decreasing global warming, removing orbital debris, or terraforming Mars are examples of these stretch projects. The educator specific “blue-sky” effort of this author is the formation of an  engineering team comprised of 10-13-year-old students who have designed, tested, and will soon fly a spacecraft with a biotechnology experiment.

To coalesce student efforts around “doing the impossible’ is both  rewarding and challenging from the educator’s perspective;

additionally, the involved students often find it efficacious and inspirational. One of the more valuable lessons learned by students engaged in a “blue-sky project” is that of embracing failure. Missing the mark on a task is inevitable, occurs often, and is expected. Failing serves as the basis for promoting improvements on both an individual and team basis.

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