Soledad O’Brien is a broadcast journalist and founder of Starfish Media Group. She is also CEO of the Starfish Foundation, which provides financial assistance and mentoring to help kids go to college. Recently, the Starfish Foundation launched virtual career tours using Google Expeditions, about which O’Brien joins us to talk about today. To become part of the Expeditions Pioneer beta program, sign up via this form. -Ed.
Kids dream about what they want to be when they grow up, but these dreams are often limited—built around the few professional people they know. What if children don’t know a veterinarian, an airplane pilot, a paleontologist, or someone in dozens of other careers? What if they lack access to internships or mentors? Can they ever dream big?
I know from watching my own kids visit me at work, and from the scholars I mentor, that exposure to all kinds of professionals is the key to inspiring young people. When I first found out about Expeditions, I saw its potential for broadening the horizons of the student scholars we help at Starfish Foundation. I envisioned creating virtual reality Expeditions that let kids step into someone’s work day, simply by using phones and Google Cardboard viewers. So that’s what we did.
Working with the Google Expeditions team, we created virtual reality tours that show kids the ins and out of careers they might not ever learn about otherwise. From flying an airplane to testing fossil samples, kids can see with their own eyes exactly what people do in many different scenarios. They can watch Carolyn Brown, director of surgery for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, perform a procedure on a cat. Or join Mark Norell, a paleontology professor with the American Museum of Natural History, as he examines a velociraptor specimen up close. And today, schools participating in the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program and Expeditions beta will be able to go on an Expedition of the Google Mountain View campus to see what it’s like to work at Google.
These Expeditions reveal what professionals like about their jobs, what they studied in school, and how they apply their knowledge to their work. Regular field trips are logistically challenging, and they don’t usually focus on careers. But with Expeditions, teachers can share an experience with students right in the classroom. You can’t fit 30 students in the cockpit of a plane, but you can get a virtual reality tour of one using Expeditions. And today, on “Take Your Kids to Work Day,” there’s no better time to get creative about exposing students to different types of jobs and workplace environments.
Children won’t know what jobs are possible if they don’t know the careers exist. Rather than just telling them, teachers can actually show them. With these career Expeditions, students can travel outside the classroom walls and be exposed to more ideas, places and opportunities than ever before.