As I look at the successes and failures of our students – and my own successes and failures – I reflect on the thoughts of Buzz Aldrin, an American astronaut who walked on the moon…

Adapted from “Failure IS an Option: Lessons I Learned From a Man Who Walked the Moon”
Sitima Fowler, 2016

Lesson #1:  Failure IS and option

If failure were not an option for the space program then they would have never gotten off the ground.  The Apollo 11 mission had a 60% chance of a successful moon landing.  If you want to do something significant then you must be willing to take risks.  If you fail, remember this: People may learn more from failures than successes leading, ultimately, to future successes (and failures too!)  Failure is a sign that you are alive and growing. Get out of your comfort zone. Take risks.

Lesson #2:  Keep your mind open to possibilities

Think about what is possible, not just what is expected.  Innovators approach the world differently and often don’t fit the norm; perhaps they have personality traits that others might regard as quirky or weird. Work with them. Nurture them. Whist average people tend to maintain the status quo — thinking mostly about surviving — innovators think about what is possible.

Lesson #3:  You become like the people with whom you most often associate

If you walk with the wise, you will become like them.  The closest friends in your life with whom you spend the most time with will have an enormous impact on you, either positively or negatively.  Choose friends who will bring out the best in you.

Lesson #4:  Write your own story

Be self-motivated and self-sufficient.  Work hard and to achieve goals. Take responsibility rather than waiting for someone else to do something for you.  Discover your passions — discover and pursue what excites you and is meaningful to you.  Don’t merely make a living, make a life.

Lesson #5:  Maintain your spirit of adventure

You don’t have to go to the moon to seek adventure.  Find joy in little everyday things.  Keep moving and stay active — better minds full and bowels empty than the other way around!

I often refer to a student’s  life after STEAM — the milestone on a student’s journey when they finally leave the STEAM Academy and move on. Now, as I contemplate my life after STEAM, I take the above lessons — and my own — to heart.


Three STEMley Cups and an FRC event win — not bad for our small team
Brainstorm Robotics — FRC 7509

PS: Available to a team needing a mentor… 🙂

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