Keeping Kids Educated & Families Connected – the Nobel Way

Parents have it hard during these uncertain times, and so do kids.

With schools shut down and everything changing, we want to make sure to keep kids connected, educated, and engaged. Our goal is also to make this period less stressful for parents by providing them, too, with a chance to aid their kids’ education and be a part of a community in the process.

That’s why we’ve decided to start offering our online, international STEM classes for free until further notice. We’re thankful to our community and the trust it’s placed in us, and we believe it’s time to give back.

Learning & Connecting: What We’re Providing to Kids & Parents

Isolation doesn’t have to mean loneliness! During this time when the responsible thing to do is stay home, we’re dedicated to helping families keep their children educated, engaged, and socialized, while helping both kids and parents stay connected to the community. And what better way to combat this isolation but by being a part of a larger group dedicated to the same goal – providing our kids the means to succeed in the future.

Keeping Kids Educated & Socialized

We’re huge advocates of peer learning. Thanks to the fact that we’ve been holding global online camps ahead of the curve, we’re already experienced in bringing kids together and helping them develop soft skills that will help them land and keep their future job.

Yes, this is a STEM camp, but with a twist. Throughout the entire program, peers are learning the essential workplace skills together, such as giving feedback, active listening, brainstorming, and so many more (check out our badges to get more familiar with the skills we help them learn).

And though they have experienced facilitators guiding them, they’ll mostly be learning from their peers who have already finished the program. They now get to give back to their community, earn service hours, and develop their leadership skills along the way with support from our amazing instructors. We’re all about helping kids develop their interests and prepare for their future!

Finally, given that families in the program come from different countries and backgrounds, getting to know about other cultures is another huge benefit kids will experience.

We are currently offering out Coding & Web Design class for free, but many more are in the works, such as AI Chatbot, Machine Learning, Startup Like Silicon Valley and Negotiation (check out the full list of projects here).

Inviting Parents to become Part of the Nobel Explorers’ Community

We want to keep parents updated on what their children are learning and how they’re progressing. First thing you should know is – we don’t believe in grades. Instead, we’re strong believers in project-based learning, where the end result isn’t an A or a C, but kids’ ability to apply the skills they’ve learned.

To include parents in a productive way that allows them to follow their kids’ progress, understand what they’re learning, and help them practice their new-found skills, we’ve prepared certain guides you’ll receive once you sign up.

It’s very important to us that we help parents stay connected to our community as well during these hard times. To make that possible, we’ve created a Facebook group where all parents can interact among themselves and with the Nobel team, and where all of us together post interesting content regarding our kids’ education and future, as well as other important topics.

Can Anyone Sign Up?

While capacity is filling up fast, like any good community, we always have room for one more to join in. We welcome all kids who want to learn about STEM and teamwork from their peers all around the globe! We won’t turn anyone away, but we do need to make choices on who gets to go first as teams shouldn’t go past a certain size – otherwise it’s hard to stay productive. That means you should sign up ASAP by clicking on this image:

Or using the QR code below:

We firmly believe that to become leaders, kids need to learn teamwork skills first. And after the program, once they’ve acquired all the necessary skills, there may be more room for growth and further leadership opportunities.

This is a truly unique learning experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. The lessons they get in teamwork, leadership, initiative, adaptability, community service and so much more will give them the skills and confidence they need to continue their journey towards college and, later on, work.

From writing college essays and scholarship applications to adapting to any workplace they become a part of, they’ll be future-ready amazing young people. And it all starts here.

We will be in these strange, uncertain times for a while, so let’s make the most of it. We’re proud to be able to help out the community, and we’re blessed we have the opportunity to be there when times are hardest. Our Nobel team is looking forward to meeting you and helping your kids succeed!

You can learn more about what we offer here:

https://nobelexplorers.com/benefits-online-internship/
https://nobelexplorers.com/global-team/

Nobel Explorer Badges for Intro Projects

Hello, Nobel Explorers! We’re so excited to have you with us starting your journey as a Nobel Explorer!

Aside from tackling some of the most interesting STEM challenges, our intro class will encourage you to learn fundamental teamwork and leadership skills. We defined 7 of these essential skills into specific badges you can earn in the beginning stages of your Explorer journey!

Nobel Explorer Badges are inspired by the World Economic Forum’s top 10 list of skills to have in 2020. These skills set you up for success in the classroom, in work, and in life, and we can’t wait for you to start earning them!

 

Heads-up Honcho

Student uses verbal and nonverbal cues to express active listening.

Showing that you’re not only paying attention to what’s being said but that you’re an active part of the conversation is a skill that is a vital aspect of teamwork. It conveys interest in what’s being said and helps you stay involved throughout the discussion.


Classy Clarifier

Student lets teammates know if he/she understands them or not.

When someone is addressing you directly, it’s important to convey whether or not you’re able to follow their train of thought. If you are, then you’ll be encouraging them, but if you’re not, then they’ll need to know in order to adapt their presentation accordingly. In good teamwork, misunderstandings are dealt with immediately so that everyone can keep up.


Super Summarizer

Student writes down all of the important agreements, ideas, and conclusions in the public chat.

Group meetings are very dynamic and the topics can sometimes change seamlessly as well as at a very rapid pace. By providing everyone with a written record of all the most important moments of the meeting, you’ll allow your fellow explorers to keep track of what’s been said and move the conversation along accordingly. These notes should be taken live and written inside the public chat for everyone to see.


Constructive Colonel

Student helps others learn and grow by providing them with constructive feedback.

This just means that giving and receiving feedback require a certain level of skill! Sharing direct information in a kind, yet encouraging manner is something that needs to be mastered but it’s also the most valuable asset in a teamworker’s toolkit.


Buddy Brainiac

Student applies brainstorming to generate ideas.

Brainstorming is a useful tool to have at your disposal when a challenge requires a particularly creative resolution. The greater the number of different ideas, the wider the choice for reaching a better solution..


“To Do” Trooper

Student identifies tasks and structures them into a to-do list.

Breaking down complex assignments into simple tasks and organizing them on a to-do list allows the team to take on even the most difficult challenges efficiently. It’s the first step to moving mountains, together!


Captain Convergent

Student organizes and structures brainstorming ideas by highlighting the most important ones and grouping together those that are similar.

The true power of brainstorming lies in diversity. But in order to make the most out of these ideas, you need to turn that bundle into a register. Sorting the fruits of your collective expression by importance and clustering together those that are similar provides everyone with a clear overview and makes each session all the more valuable.

Hey there!

You made it all the way to through! We don’t have a badge for this though, but a heartful “Great Job” should work just fine! Now that you’re all caught up with how the badge system works, it’s time to go out there and get as many as you can!

Book a call with Daria, Lead Facilitator, for a deeper understanding of the soft skills badges.

Learn more about Daria.

Organization Skills in Kids: Struggles & Solutions

Since January is the official Get Organized Month, we’ve decided to dedicate an article to organization skills in kids. You’ll learn what organization skills are, how to recognize when children struggle with them, and how to help them overcome these issues.

What Are Organization Skills?

The type of skills that, simply put, help kids stay organized in their everyday activities. They help kids make plans, use all the resources available to them, and allocate their time effectively. These skills rely on executive function, which is responsible for, among other things, impulse control. It enables kids to focus on what’s important right now, successfully ignore distractions around them, and plan out what needs to be done.

But what happens if they lack some of these skills?

Recognizing the Lack of Organization Skills

If your child is struggling to get organized, you may notice the following:

Difficulty Setting Priorities & Making Schedules

They may be doing things ad hoc, and experiencing certain consequences because of it. For example, they may not be planning their homework ahead, which leads to it piling up and inevitably causing them trouble. This can also apply to chores, especially with younger kids.

You may have noticed that they always do it at the last moment, and it’s not because they forget – it’s simply because they think that the order in which they do things doesn’t matter as long as it’s all being done.

“I’ll go to Mark’s first, then I’ll come back home and finish that song I’ve been learning to play on the guitar, and I’ll do my homework in the evening.”

In their head, as long as it’s planned out, priorities don’t matter – it will all be done after all, won’t it? But after they come home from Mark’s and finish playing for an hour and a half, they may be too tired to do their literature assignment, so they may just finish those three math questions and go to bed. They’ll do it tomorrow, but not before going to the pool with their friends!

Poor Time-Management Skills

clock to show time management struggles

“My kid does plan everything in advance, schedule and all – but they still can’t seem to finish stuff on time!”

In that case, planning and prioritizing is probably not the issue, but their perception of time is. If they can sit down and decide on what their priorities are, that’s amazing – but without proper time management, it will all remain pretty theoretical.

What usually happens is that they believe they have more time to do certain things than they actually do.

“I’m great at history, so I’ll learn these 10 pages in half an hour!”

“Cleaning up my room? Let’s put that at 5:15 p.m., ‘cause I gotta leave at 5:30 for my soccer practice. That’s plenty of time to finish it!”
“I’ll set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. – 10 minutes is plenty of time to get up, get dressed, have breakfast and leave for school!”

If this is the way your kid’s thinking when they sit down to plan their activities, chances are they’ll end up hurrying through them and skipping a bunch because they simply can’t fit them all in – and they’ll end up stressed out and disappointed as a result.

And not to mention that things like video games and YouTube videos tend to find their way in there somewhere.  After all, they still have plenty of time to finish their assignments after this one game, right?

Not Knowing Where to Start & What Resources to Use

Your child may be great at making schedules, and as a bonus, they know how much time each of those things is going to take, which is awesome! But they may be struggling with the last step, and feeling confused and even anxious every time they have to actually start working on something.

“Where do I start?”
“What do I need for this? Where do I find it all?”
“Which of these goes first?”
“Should I ask someone for help? Should I do it by myself?”

Having all these thoughts flood them as they sit down at their desk to write that assignment, or as they start cleaning their room can be so blocking. To you, it may seem like a simple enough thing – your assignment says “The Discovery of America”, so you start with which parts of the world were already known, who Christopher Columbus was, how he came to America, and what that discovery meant (once they figured out it was not, in fact, India!) You get your class notes, add to it from the internet, and voila, you’re done!

But to someone who struggles to identify the appropriate order of things as well as their possible resources, this entire experience is overwhelming, and it’s no wonder they start getting nervous at the very thought of an assignment.

The good news is, there are ways to help them overcome each of these stumbling blocks. Here’s how.

Don’t Do Everything for Them

This may seem counterintuitive. “If they’re struggling with it, shouldn’t I help them?” Absolutely! But unless they do things on their own, they’ll never learn to organize themselves in the right way, which may affect their future. If you’re always reminding them about their homework now, what happens once they get a job? You can’t possibly know all of the responsibilities they’ll have at any moment then, and without you to remind them, chances are they won’t be very successful at it.

Instead, help them make a huge calendar to put above their desk. You can aid them in the beginning so they don’t forget to enter all their assignments onto it (after some time, they’ll get the hang of it on their own). You can also color code it for priorities – red if it’s very urgent, yellow if it’s not that urgent, but should be done soon, and green if there’s plenty of time left.

color coded post its to help organization skills

This will help them better understand what needs to be done ASAP, before they’ve gone off to the pool or started learning how to play Stairway to Heaven beginning to end!

Time-Management Diary

Here’s what to do if your kid’s greatest struggle isn’t setting priorities, but understanding how much time each of those tasks will take.

Have them track all their activities for a week or two, writing down how much time each takes. Once that’s done, you can sit down with them and discuss the findings. Chances are, they’ll realize that doing five math problems and writing a 15-page assignment do not each take “like, half an hour”. For each new activity they introduce, they should track it first so they’ll be better able to plan it all out next time they need to do it!

Bonus Advice

Make sure they’re not sacrificing their sleep now that they know how much time their daily activities take! Just because an assignment will take two hours instead of half an hour doesn’t mean their sleep should now last seven hours instead of eight and a half. You can share your own diary with your daily tasks to show them that it’s possible to do it all and lead a healthy lifestyle at the same time!

One of the must-do’s of good time management is separating a single task into a couple of mini tasks. This serves two purposes. For one, it allows them to rest – otherwise, their focus could soon start to waiver, and they’d spend even more time trying to get it back. The second thing is, “all I need to do is spend half an hour Monday-Thursday on it” sounds much easier than “I have to sit and write for two hours on Thursday”, right? This helps them avoid anxiety and even get motivated to finish it as soon as possible!

And another thing – don’t forget to set firm deadlines! “Sometime next week” may lead them to finish it on Sunday evening, but “Done by Friday at 5:00 p.m.” is a whole different story that instills in them a sense of responsibility.

Learning by Example

Helping them identify their resources and the correct order of things may be the trickiest part, but it can still be done! This will work best if they’re learning from someone who’s successfully done similar things in the past. For example, if they have a friend who’s great at it, instead of just bluntly asking them what they should do (because there’s no learning there), they can simply ask to see an assignment and ask them to explain how they did it.

The questions to ask may be:

“What did you do first?”
“Where did you do your research?”
“Do you write it all at once, or do you have an outline first?”
“How do you know when you’ve finished the assignment?”

They should write the answers down and have them serve as a reminder. And after they’ve consulted this three, five, or twelve times, there’ll come a time when they realize – “Wow, I’ve just finished this assignment without even glancing at my reminder!”

Speaking of peers helping peers, the best way for your child to learn the soft skills necessary for their future (such as time management, prioritization, communication) is by interacting with students their own age as part of a project they all find interesting and valuable. Nobel Explorers is an online global STEM camp designed to help kids develop their soft skills while learning coding – the best of both worlds!

Five STEM Movies that Inspire

We’re all aware that STEM careers are and will be in demand. So how to get young people excited about STEM? We suggest watching movies! Movies are great entertainment, they can teach us about life, and at the same time, be a source of educational information. Below you can find five inspiring STEM movies we believe everybody should watch. We chose movies that not only preach STEM but also depict STEM-related issues, such as STEM equity.

The LEGO Movie

Do your kids love movies about saving the world? Then this is just the one for them! It’s about a very ordinary LEGO mini-figure who’s mistakenly identified as extraordinary and the key to saving his LEGO world. Throughout the movie, children can see the engineering design process in action – things are built and rebuilt over and over and over again.

Apart from showing us how engineering is fun and awesome, the movie also illustrates that the combination of engineering, creativity, and teamwork are crucial today.

JOIN OUR ONLINE STEM CAMP AND IMPROVE YOUR TEAMWORK SKILLS

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is based on the true life story of Alan Turing, the British mathematical genius. Turing cracked the seemingly unbreakable German Enigma code during World War II, with the help of an innovative computer he built. Thanks to using math, engineering, and still-to-be-invented computer science, he helped turn the tide of the war and save countless lives!

Can machines think? This question is addressed by Turing in the movie and his arguments and analysis teach us about artificial intelligence.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is the true story of three African-American mathematicians, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson, known as the human computers, who worked for NASA. They were given the task of calculating the launch of John Glenn into orbit and guaranteeing his safe return.

The movie highlights the ongoing legacy of women and minorities in STEM and demonstrates how these women fought for their rights (and won!). It can teach your kids a lot about STEM equity and can inspire young women to explore STEM for themselves. 

The Theory of Everything

Love story? Fighting for life? STEM? Success? The Theory of Everything has it all. It is an inspirational story about the most celebrated theoretical physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking. The successor to Einstein, as he was called, wrote his thesis on black hole dynamics, in which he proposed that a black hole created the universe in a Big Bang, that it will emit heat, and that it will end in a Big Crunch (yikes!).

His accomplishments were even more remarkable considering that he was fighting motor neuron disease for much of his life. His example teaches us that we can achieve a great deal despite challenges we may encounter in life.

Spider-Man

You probably wonder what’s the connection between one of the superheroes and STEM. Well, here’s why we’ve chosen this movie.

Peter Parker got his powers from a radioactive spider bite. After the accident left him super-strong and super-spidery, Parker himself invented most of the outfits and gadgets that he uses day-to-day! We believe that this was possible thanks to the knowledge he acquired in STEM high school (this was revealed in Spider-Man: Homecoming). So if your kid is a superhero/Spiderman fan, getting them interested in STEM will be no trouble!

YOUR CHILD CAN BE A SUPERHERO, TOO!

HELP THEM CHOOSE A PROJECT AND LEARN HOW TO PROGRAM ROBOTS AND MANY MORE THINGS HERE.

The Benefits of Attending an Online STEM Camp

Attending a STEM camp can be a great way to introduce your child to some of the highest-rated professions in modern industry. Moreover, they offer a great opportunity for your child to make friends, have fun, and create amazing memories.

If you’re reading this then you’re probably aware of the importance of STEM education. And while STEM camps can be a step in the right direction for your child’s development, they still come with some downsides. They’re primarily organized in the summer or other times of the year when children are on a break from school. This is tricky because during vacations kids usually just want to forget about anything similar to a classroom.

Also, STEM camps can get very pricey since they include costs such as lodging and travel expenses.

Modern technology may hold an answer to overcoming these particular challenges. Recent data shows that home internet service is available to over 80% of households across the U.S. and rising. This means that attending an online STEM camp might be a more suitable option for both you and your child.

source: GIPHY.COM

We’ve discovered these essential benefits through the work we’ve been doing with Nobel Explorers STEM Projects. If you want to learn more about our story, click here!

Top Four Reasons to Join an Online STEM Camp

1. Explore STEM from the Comfort of Your Own Home

One of the main reasons you should choose online over offline STEM camps is convenience. For starters, it’s cheaper and more cost-effective, one of the basic benefits of online learning in general. It also makes financial sense considering that you’re not paying for anything that isn’t directly related to learning and development.

Secondly, even though your child is getting out of their comfort zone, meeting new people and developing new skills, their home environment will provide them with additional support and ease them into the whole process. They can organize their workstation in a way that suits them best and

Finally, when a child attends an educational camp, parents are usually very much excluded from the whole experience. You’re frequently far away and your chances for catching up are fairly limited. With online STEM camps, you’re always close at hand and informed.

2. Collaborate in International Teams Led by Experts from All over the World

We’ve often mentioned the numerous benefits of international teams and they are all transferable to child development and learning. Collaborating with their peers from completely different cultural backgrounds is probably the best way of acquiring a global perspective. It’s also a setting for children to learn how to respect diversity and other multicultural values.

In an online setting, you’re not geography is not an obstacle. To that extent, another benefit is that your kids have access to experts located all over the world. When organizing a STEM camp, you’re able to choose from a much larger pool of qualified professionals.

This has been one of the strong points of our experience with Nobel Explorers. It’s not just about the fact that we get to work with top global talents who are great at teaching and have a distinguished understanding of their field. They also have relevant experience in working with international teams they can pass on to our Explorers, because that’s how Nobel operates!

maya angelo quote about the strength and beauty of diversity and multiculturalism

3. Develop In an Environment That Closely Represents the Jobs of the Future

In the future, companies will surely look to utilize the benefits of having online teams and remote work. Studies show that working remotely, at least part-time, can have significant benefits for both the employee and the company.

Working in an online environment occurs under a specific set of rules, quite different than you might encounter in an office where you’d work right alongside your teammates. The best way to prepare for a job of the future is to learn, practice, and develop in a context that’s similar to what a work environment will look like 20 or 30 years from now.

Project-based STEM learning allows your kids to acquire the essential skills for the future of work. And children are very much aware of this! This testimonial from one of our Explorers puts it best:

“This project brings people together to prepare them for the future. It helps you with social and communication skills, hard skills, and it offers you a view of how professional teams are working in companies or everywhere.” – Olga N.

4. Stay Connected to STEM Throughout the Year

Because online STEM camps are so flexible and easier to organize, they offer a better dynamic. Activities are spread out through longer periods of time, reducing the possibility that kids become saturated and bored. A system of weekly meetups helps kids maintain their motivation because it’s easier for them to build a sense of responsibility towards their group.

Since online STEM camps can be attended throughout the year, kids can stay engaged with the field longer. Subsequently, they get more opportunities to further specify their interests while the chances of them falling out of love with STEM are being reduced significantly.

Choosing the Right Online STEM Camp

Parents are becoming aware of the fact that there’s something wrong with STEM education in schools, which would explain the increase in the numbers of STEM camps in recent years. When trying to decide which way to go, it’s important to check for certain characteristics. Online STEM camps vary amongst themselves and some don’t offer all the benefits we’ve discussed. Not all of them are international and some even resemble a regular online course more than anything.

But the most valuable thing any STEM Camp can offer is project-based learning. This type of learning gives children the opportunity to overcome challenges through teamwork in a setting that prepares them for the future of work. We’ve recognized this at Nobel Explorers and that’s why we created an entire range of challenging STEM projects which are fun, engaging, modern and relevant.

You should always do some research and try to find answers to questions like what is their educational style, are the topics meaningfully related to STEM, and do their activities fit smoothly with your child’s schedule? Once you’ve understood all aspects of the service and they check all of the boxes, consult your child to see what project or camp would be the most fun for them.

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Nobel Explorers is an online STEM camp where kids solve age-appropriate challenges in international teams by making products that have real-life value.

We have an entire range of engaging STEM projects for you to choose from!

Registration is OPEN!

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Entrepreneurial Skills That Will Secure Your Child’s Future

Having a need to ensure your child’s future is one of the most fundamental characteristics of a parent. We all want to raise them to become independent people, capable of providing for themselves. But the demands of the business world have changed drastically in the last 20 to 30 years and will continue to change in the foreseeable future.

Today’s kids will need to have new tools, methods, and skills to actually be able to sustain their future. There is a strong argument that having entrepreneurial skills will be an essential requirement for the professionals of tomorrow. Things like complex problem-solving, critical thinking and emotional intelligence will increase your child’s chances of stable employment and make their relationships, both professional AND personal, more satisfying.

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The best way to learn how to think like an entrepreneur is to actually become one!
Learn by doing as part of an international team and Start up your own Startup!

Registration is OPEN!

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Top Six Entrepreneurial Skills You Should Encourage in Your Children

Your kids don’t have to be entrepreneurs but they should develop the ability to think like one. These are the top entrepreneurial skills that will help skyrocket your child’s career in the job market of the future.

1. Complex Problem-Solving

The ability to solve complex issues is a desirable skill to have in any profession. Even though the setting may vary, the underlying cognitive skill is universal.

If you look at some of the world’s most famous serial entrepreneurs, you will notice that they’ve often managed to top completely unrelated industries. Richard Branson has made a breakthrough with his record company but was able to excel with his air travel and telecom businesses as well.

People who are good at complex problem-solving can deal with issues they’ve never seen before and overcome them efficiently. The natural shift to agile and flexible approaches in modern companies has been made because the issues they’re dealing with are both complicated and new. Subsequently, complex problem-solving will only become a more valuable skill to have over time.

Entrepreneurial skills are best developed through learning by doing. Children can learn to overcome new challenges naturally, through play. All you have to do is provide a little structure to their games and guide them with open-ended questions.

In the clip below, you can find some strong arguments about the value of teaching kids through project-based learning.

2. Time Management

Time management is all about knowing how to plan, access, organize, and prioritize your daily activities. It’s a precondition for achieving higher productivity and plays an important role in reducing the anxieties of everyday responsibilities.

Being able to plan out a schedule and stick to it is something we consider an important aspect of being an adult. However, we stand to benefit from time management in all stages of our lives.

The daily schedules of our children resemble our own, in a way. They have routines, appointments, and even responsibilities. Unlike us, they’re not making their own schedule. It’s something that we, as parents, do in their stead. We’re helping them make their appointments and school project deadlines, but we’re also denying them the opportunity to learn how to organize their time for themselves.

When teaching them time management, it’s important to acknowledge this dynamic and slowly empower your kids to self-organize. You can start by letting them choose the order of their predetermined activities. Let them experiment and explore their preferences. Do they prefer to do their chores before or after play-time?

The sooner they grasp the benefits of time management the better off they’ll be in their careers. One of the main concerns of today’s workforce is poor work-life balance. People with a good grasp of work-life balance experience lower levels of stress, have a significantly lower risk of burnout and are more likely to develop nurturing family relationships.

3. Resilience

Resilience is a skill that reflects our ability to deal with and sustain ourselves in difficult situations. There’s really no other way of building it other than through experience. In life, everyone gets their share of adversity, some more than others.

Helping children develop resilience is probably one of the most difficult aspects of parenting because we have to act against our parental instincts. It’s only natural for us as parents to want to protect our children from everyone and everything. But life only gets tougher as we grow older. They need to experience hardships on a lower scale in order to learn how to handle the true challenges of adulthood.

Our day-to-day work lives come with a whole slew of adversities. Overbearing schedules, tight deadlines, late-night meetings, workplace conflicts… you name it! Empowering your children with the tools to persevere in difficult situations will allow them to make bolder career choices while preserving their mental health.

Quote about importance of resilience for child development by Arnold Schwarzenegger - Nobel Explorers

4. Critical Thinking

Teaching children what to think is easy. Teaching them how to think for themselves is where it gets tricky.

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze and evaluate facts in order to form a personal judgment. In our work life, critical thinking allows us to reexamine the status quo, identify new issues that need solving, or figure out ways to resolve the old ones more efficiently.

Children should be taught how to analyze and evaluate the world around them, how to spot discrepancies, and above all, question what is being said to them. That last part makes parenting all the more difficult because you’re going to have to use logic and reason rather than just rely on your authority. But your child will benefit because they’ll learn to value what’s being said instead of focusing on who said it.

For younger children, unstructured play is a great starting point. Try not to interfere as much and postpone your involvement. Give them a minute or two to try out different things. If you do decide to get involved, try to lead them towards a solution or show alternative ways for achieving a similar result.

As they get older you can progress to asking open-ended questions, encouraging them to think differently and lastly, exchange opinions while practicing to support your opinions with arguments.

5. Management and Teamwork Skills

Having a strong, solid, and integrated team has proven to be one of the most valuable assets and resources of today’s companies. Therefore, developing management and teamwork skills is crucial for securing a successful career in any field.

Children often stumble upon these skills just by going about their everyday activities. We’ve talked frequently about why sports are essential for child development and team sports have that added benefit of allowing kids to both develop leadership skills and learn how to coordinate with others.

It’s your role as a parent to guide and support their involvement in similar social activities. In the end, any group activity that requires some level of organization and team effort to achieve a goal will be beneficial. Encouraging your kids to try out new roles within a team will help them develop a vast array of skills.

6. Creativity

When we think about creativity, we usually focus on artistic pursuits. That viewpoint is somewhat limiting, because coming up with new ideas, applications, and solutions is an integral part of every aspect of life.

That is why some people differentiate between “big” and “small c” creativity. “Small c” creativity is the kind we use in everyday life whenever we’re faced with a new challenge, important to us personally, whether it’s work-related or not. Even though the solutions we come up with might not be groundbreaking discoveries, they’re nevertheless an expression of our creativity and the ability to think divergently.

There’s a childlike essence to being creative and studies show that children think more divergently than adults. It’s all about being able to loosen up the constraints of the well-established patterns, rules, and norms we’ve acquired through socialization. This allows us to combine concepts in new ways and approach challenges from a variety of angles.

All kids have the capacity to express creativity. Parents need to be careful not to stifle this capacity in an attempt to control socially undesirable behaviors. That doesn’t mean you should let your child draw on your kitchen walls with crayons. It just means you need to help them unleash their creativity in a setting where they’re free to experiment, while also not having to redecorate after their creative endeavors.

Additional Thoughts on Teaching Children Entrepreneurial Skills

The best way to acquire and develop an entrepreneurial mindset is through learning by doing. Since school is not always the most appropriate context, you’ll need to seek out a setting that will allow your child to practice and utilize these entrepreneurial skills.

Your role here, as a parent, should mostly be based on guidance and counseling. But one of the best things you can do for your child is to help them learn that it’s okay to fail. That doesn’t mean they have to like it. It’s perfectly normal to feel sad, frustrated, or even angry when faced with adversity and failure. They just need to have the right perspective. In its essence, failure is just negative feedback. Information that our behavior isn’t working and we need to adjust it to achieve better results. Failure is a component of learning and we need to teach our kids to treat it as such.

It’s important to recognize that most learning activities will help your kids develop several of these entrepreneurial skills at once. For example, if they’re engaging in a group STEM activity, they will learn how to problem-solve, express themselves creatively while trying to come up with different solutions, and learn to collaborate with others, all the while learning by doing.

“Kids need time for problem solving, critical thinking, applying knowledge through project-based instruction, working in teams, falling down and getting right back up to figure out what they didn’t understand and why.” – Randi Weingarten

What’s Wrong With STEM Education In Schools: 4 Ways to Fix It

STEM is all the hype right now: parents want their kids to get into STEM education, kids want to get into STEM education – heck, we wouldn’t be surprised if even their dogs secretly wanted them to get into STEM education! You might consider that last one a bit  ‘barking mad’ but you get the point.

And while that’s all great, one thing’s been proven time and time again: in their current state, schools can’t provide the kind of STEM education necessary for kids to succeed.

We want to see every single kid nail it, so without further ado – here are the top 4 reasons why that’s not happening in education right now.

  1. Students are Initially Interested in STEM – But Not For Long.

This is a depressing notion, but one we have to consider and work hard to change. We just mentioned that kids want to get into STEM, so what’s going on here?  Are they interested or not?

It’s true that kids start out very enthusiastically.  After all, what’s not to like? They can create amazing things with STEM, and have a great future while doing what they love!

And that’s where the problem arises: in a school context, they aren’t creating great things. They aren’t getting a chance to express themselves creatively, or inspired to do something innovative. As with the rest of our school curriculum, they’re expected to simply follow instructions and remain inside the box.

Now imagine if Elon Musk never thought outside the box. Do you think he’d ever have sent a Roadster into space? Hardly. Yet, that’s exactly what’s lacking in schools. Kids aren’t being taught to think in a way that requires creativity and problem-solving: they’re being told to memorize algorithms and rules. And not much else.

Is it so strange then  that their initial fire fizzles out after they discover it’s nothing like the fantastic thing they were looking forward to?

  1. STEM is Much More Than a Set of Hard Skills.

To be successful in STEM, kids need to be fluent in all kinds of cognitive and soft skills, some of which we’ve already mentioned. For example, if they’re working on a project with a couple of other people, understanding the basics of teamwork – giving feedback, asking questions, managing time in a good way – are crucial. Now the lack of technical skills can be bridged. If your child doesn’t know something, another one can show them – but the lack of teamwork and leadership skills is what leads to projects failing.

Here’s an example: all the tasks are chosen and an equal amount is given to each team member. Now, John needs to finish the basics of the website before Nancy can apply the design to it. The trouble is – John keeps on being late with his tasks due to his poor time management skills. Nancy is frustrated, but she doesn’t know how to approach the situation, so she lets it be. The whole thing ends with an unfinished website, poor design, and the lack of kids’ interest (see reason #1) in STEM. And none of it is because these kids lack the technical skills: it’s because they lack people skills.

Even Google thinks these skills are a must if you want to have any chance of succeeding in the 21st century. That’s another thing we pride ourselves in: Nobel Explorers STEM Camp is based on the idea that hard skills aren’t enough, so our educators make sure kids learn how to properly work in and lead teams as well.

It’s the full package.

  1. STEM Career Centers Aren’t Easily Accessible to Everyone.

We rarely hear about people outside large urban areas achieving something in STEM, but it’s hard to believe that not a single person from a smaller town or even a village is interested in STEM.

The sad truth is: there are people who are very interested, but centers for that kind of education are too distant from them, so they have to make do. Making do in this case usually means having an even less structured STEM education. If large towns that get the lion’s share of the budget can’t get it right, what can we expect of smaller places where schools are barely making ends meet? And with such a gaping hole in their knowledge, students can’t get into colleges that would allow them to prosper.

It’s a vicious cycle.

We were well aware of that when creating Nobel Explorers, which is why our Online Global STEM Camp is accessible to anyone with a stable internet connection, no matter where on the planet they are!

  1. Project-Based Learning? What’s That?

Project-Based Learning or PBL is an approach in which students learn by doing. It sounds very logical when you put it that way, doesn’t it? Try explaining to someone how to ride a bike, without letting them try it. Or how to tie their shoes! They could be really smart but …

But for some reason, our school curriculum seems fixated on the idea that theoretical knowledge, basically rote learning, is the be-all and end-all of education. Not so much. You can memorize any number of great poems, but that won’t teach you how to write a masterpiece of your own. That takes experimenting with words and trial and error.

With STEM, it’s even more difficult, because students need to understand how each line of code ties into the next one, by – you guessed it – trial and error! It’s the only way they can be able to a) see the bigger picture and start experimenting, and b) (even more important, if you ask us) get motivated to continue learning.

Imagine if you were never able to see the fruits of your labor, nor understand what the point of your hard work is in the first place. You’re told to move some boxes around and nothing else. What’s in the boxes? Is that work important? What are you contributing to? These are all things you’d want to know if you’re to be motivated to keep on working. Otherwise, you’d be just  doing it robotically, all the while looking for a better job.

Now imagine sending your kid to a STEM class. They’re writing these codes, they know in theory what they do, and then they’re graded for it. They don’t create anything, nor are they allowed to participate in choosing the project, the topic, the way it’s all going to look.

PBL allows them to do exactly that, and not only learn better by doing it, but get excited about what they’re doing, and get motivated to learn more! Just take a look at these awesome websites our amazing interns created in only a week, without any prior STEM knowledge! It looks insane – but it’s all about teaching them the right way.

Conclusion

STEM may be all the hype right now, but research shows that including it in school education isn’t yielding the expected results. Due to its poor implementation and the lack of soft skills and PBL, as well as the whole situation being even more complicated for kids who come from smaller cities, students are lacking the excitement and knowledge to keep on pursuing it. But thanks to Nobel’s amazing STEM rockstars, we’ve come up with a solution. If you want your kid to be successful in STEM and life in general, sign them up for one of our many projects. Until our school curriculum is fixed, it’s the only way they’ll get that.

Me waiting for our school curriculum to get STEM right

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Teaching Entrepreneurial Skills to Kids

As parents, we want to provide our children with the best possible tools so they can lead a happy, independent, and successful life. The more tools they acquire, the more options they’ll have for choosing and excelling at a career they want to build for themselves. Academic success is important, unquestionably, and it’s still a significant advantage to this day. But in contrast to the world we were living in 30 years ago, it’s no longer a guarantee of anything. Some things are simply not taught at school, but can still be extremely valuable to your child’s success. Such is the case with entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills.

In the job market of the future, entrepreneurial thinking will be one of the essential characteristics sought by employers and valued in the business world. It’s based around a set of entrepreneurial skills that parents can encourage by applying different techniques in different stages of their child’s life. Yet there are certain behaviors and attitudes that parents adhere to which reflect negatively on their child’s chances to acquire and develop the entrepreneurial mindset. These are the absolute don’ts for developing your child’s entrepreneurial skills.

1. Emphasizing the Role and Not the Entrepreneurial Skills

In today’s business world, entrepreneurship is elevated to the level of an ideal, something everyone should strive towards. You get the impression that if you’re not a business owner, you haven’t reached the pinnacle of success. But leading an entrepreneurial life comes with certain downsides. The notion of how great it is to be your own boss has been mythologized to a certain extent and the real story is a lot more complex.

Entrepreneurship is one of those topics that’s riddled with survivorship bias, meaning that the spotlight is usually on the stories of people who’ve made it, leaving out the majority of those who were unsuccessful. Research shows that around 75% of venture-backed companies fail to provide their investors with a cash return, and 50% of startups don’t even make it past their 5th year. Bearing that in mind, it would be equally wrong to conclude that your chances of success are determined simply by the luck of the draw. Companies that have failed did so for a reason and the stats are supposed to underline just how difficult being an entrepreneur actually is.

While it’s probably true that entrepreneurship has its perks, this kind of dynamic, passion-driven lifestyle comes at a price. Entrepreneurs have among the most stressful jobs, which is understandable when you consider the amount of uncertainty that comes with the role. That is why they pay the psychological price. They often work longer hours, either at the expense of having a less developed personal life and getting less sleep. Those who are not prepared to cope with entrepreneurial stress are at risk of suffering from health-related issues, both physical and mental.

Whether or not someone is going to be a great entrepreneur will be determined by an array of factors. It’s evident that quality of life is not purely determined by being a business owner. We need to shift the ideal from being an entrepreneur towards having an entrepreneurial mindset and developing entrepreneurial skills. By doing so, we’re empowering kids to have careers they choose according to their interests, needs, and values.

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2. Accepting Money as a Core Value

Money is a very important tool in our lives but it’s still just a tool. A means to an end, important for fulfilling some of our basic needs like food, water, and shelter. It’s true that it can be of tremendous help when we’re trying to actualize our values. However, it shouldn’t really be one of the core values itself. Having lots of money doesn’t speak to your virtues by default. One of the reasons why it’s not healthy to lend it such significance is because any potential fluctuation in your accounts will be overwhelming.

How our children perceive money is an area in which parents can have a crucial influence. If you overemphasize its value, your child might develop an unnatural connection with it. They might learn to think it’s more important than friendship, community, family, or any other value that plays an important role in a person’s well-being. A study in 2015 has shown that valuing time over money “is related to greater subjective well-being”.

In conclusion, the money-first mindset is very toxic. It’s like a minefield for your mental health. Even if it may seem as though it can help entrepreneurs achieve economic success, it will surely leave a mark on other important aspects of life.

3. Focusing on the Issues (and Not Their Resolution)

There’s no doubt that being able to identify issues is a very useful skill. Entrepreneurial thinkers rely on this skill every day but that’s just the first part of the story. There’s much greater value if it’s combined with knowing how to tackle them. If you’re focused on simply pointing out hurdles, your child will learn to do just that. You also need to pair it with giving them a constructive approach for overcoming obstacles. Otherwise, their contributions in work-related settings will be extremely limited.

They might suffer from other consequences as well. Fixating on a particular issue is an incredibly frustrating experience. If that’s how your child learns to function, they’ll never get beyond feeling frustrated and outraged. They’ll miss out on opportunities to develop confidence by taking an active approach, and they could end up with anxiety as their sole response whenever they’re facing a challenge.

If you ever catch yourself purely venting about an issue to your child, try to take a step back and restructure your story towards exploring potential solutions. Modeling this type of behavior makes it easier for them to attain it and later on portray it in adult life situations.

4. Shielding them from Failure

For a parent, there’s nothing worse than seeing your child feel or get hurt. Failing is followed by hurting and when they fail, they experience a whole rainbow of negative emotions. All of a sudden, we feel this incredible urge to protect them. Still, dealing with negative emotions is a very important part of growing up. It’s the raw material upon which we build resilience, something that we’ll need to rely on later in life because it won’t just keep getting easier. Failing is an important component of growth and is also unavoidable in a work environment. Resilience will allow your child to push on when it’s difficult, while keeping their cool.

But that’s not the only downside of not letting your child fail. By not giving them an opportunity to learn how to deal with feeling sad, or disappointed, or angry, you’re also giving them a false sense of their abilities. You’re creating the illusion that your child is good at doing something when they’re objectively not. This makes dealing with harsh reality checks even more devastating.

This doesn’t mean you should always sit on the sidelines and let your child fend for themselves. If the consequences of their failure are truly endangering you should definitely step in and help. And when you do step in, don’t try to simply remove the obstacle but empower them to get over it.

Conclusion

In order to improve optimally, we need to consider both the dos as well as the don’ts for our situation. It’s probably easier to think about what you should be doing than to critically assess what you’re already doing wrong. That doesn’t make it any less important and in terms of parenting, it’s something our children will be thankful for.

The entrepreneurial lifestyle is a very layered topic. The advantages are very tempting, but they may come at a price, which is all the more reason to put the emphasis on the skills and not the profession. Entrepreneurial skills are and will continue to be highly rated in the future of work and we shouldn’t be a barrier hindering our child’s attempts to develop them. The best thing you can do for your child is to provide them with the tools and let them figure out the best way to utilize them.

Advantages to Working and Learning in a Global Team

Cosmin R. is the project lead and gamification expert for Nobel Explorers. He is the person behind Nobel’s system that rewards students with badges and allows them to track their progress. Cosmin also uses his game design expertise to teach Explorers how to make their own board game. He shares his personal experiences working in a global team and talks about the advantages of having teammates all over the world.

Question: Could you tell us a little bit about your own experiences working in global teams?

Cosmin: I consider myself very lucky because I’ve had plenty of opportunities to experience global teamwork environments. My first IT company had headquarters across the world in places like Canada, the U.S., and in Romania as well, which is where I’m from. It was an opportunity to communicate and work directly with people who shared my area of expertise. I had similar experiences at an international student NGO and while working on many different projects that also depended on the productivity of global teams.

Last but not least, I found my dream job by joining Nobel Explorers, since it allowed me to combine two of my biggest passions: education and gamification. Not only that, but I get to work with people from all over the world in a modern environment while contributing to the education of the next generation of students.

All of my experiences working in international teams have inspired me to seek out these characteristics in my career choices. I’m always looking forward to exploring global teamwork environments, which is one of the reasons I’ve applied to volunteer at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Q: Let’s start with some basics and discuss the characteristics of a global team. What is a global team exactly?

C: Well, you can think of it like this. Global teams are like teams, only global. 🙂
All jokes aside, global teams are not that different from any other team. They’re defined by the fact that they include people from different places around the world. The foundation of the concept is still a team, while global is something that embellishes and adds value to the initial idea. In their essence, teams are teams, no matter where people come from.

Q: Based on your experience, what would you say are some of the biggest benefits of working in a global team?

C: It’s exciting for many reasons. For starters, you get to know and work with top talent from all over the world. You get to meet experts from your domain selected from a global pool, not just those from your local area.

Take my current situation at Nobel as an example. I’m working alongside a hard-skills expert from Serbia, all the while consulting with a leadership and teamwork-skills expert based in the Philippines. With the introduction of global teams, borders and geographical distance are no longer an obstacle.

Working in global teams gives you a much clearer and more realistic view of the world and it’s a great way of overcoming cognitive biases. You learn that the world is not as scary as it might seem if you only experience it through the eyes of the media. Having international colleagues encourages the development of a positive mindset.

Another thing is that social interactions in global teams often result in friendships and it’s pretty obvious why having friends all over the world is great. For example, during my student years, I was able to organize a cross-Europe trip, going from one country to the next, only visiting friends. This is precisely what our Explorers look forward to when they finish one of our projects. Many of them have mentioned that they can’t wait to visit their teammates and meet with them in person.

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Lastly, I believe global teams are the future. Looking at some current trends in the business world and the way technology is evolving, it’s pretty clear that working remotely alongside internationals from all over the world is becoming the standard. It’s the next stage in humanity’s progress and something we can look forward to in the years to come.

Q: Considering the other side of the coin. Do you think there might be some disadvantages or challenges related to working in a global team? Are there ways to overcome them?

C: Global teams are primarily affected by challenges common to all teams. I’d say 90% of the issues simply derive from the fact you’re working as part of a group.

Having said that, there are some challenges specifically related to the “global” aspect. Globally distributed teams are definitely affected purely by the physical obstacle of not being able to share the same room. These challenges have been overcome by advancements in technology, meaning every team would need to have a proper tech setup. Additional benefits can be achieved if team members adhere to an online etiquette, like the one we teach in Nobel Explorers projects.

There are some communication barriers. For instance, some words in different social contexts can have more or less different meanings, so that can sometimes cause confusion within a team. Other misunderstandings could arise from cultural differences. By exploring and learning about these differences, we’re both preventing these misunderstandings and also broadening our perspective.

In the end, every healthy team develops a culture of its own, which concerns things like work environment, values, etiquette, and so on. Building a company culture unites team members and if developed properly, it’s also a great way to overcome cultural barriers.

Q: You mentioned that these teams need to have a proper tech setup. What are some of the tools and software you’ve used to ensure the productivity of a global team?

C: I’ve worked with and tested a lot of different tools and apps. One of the main things you’ll need in terms of software is something that will enable you a face-to-face interaction. My top three picks would be Google Meets, Skype, and Zoom. Another essential tool is Google Calendar for planning and organization of work. Working in different time-zones can be tricky and using an online calendar is a great way to overcome potential issues.

For written communication and document sharing, you’ll need an email service, such as Google Suite. You can take things to the next level by adapting to a collaboration hub like Slack or something similar. These collaboration tools are very valuable for project management because they allow everyone to stay up to date with their tasks and the overall work of the entire team.

Q: What are some basic principles of global team communication and how can we make sure it’s effective?

C: In order to properly function in a global team, each person needs to develop certain communication skills. They are numerous and each of them contributes to effective communication within the team. Some of these skills include things like asking verifying questions, demonstrating that you understand what others are saying, conveying a level of certainty regarding your statement, and even asking people who are quiet to speak up. There are lots of things you can do about improving communication and practice is key.

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At Nobel Explorers, we use a talent tree to track the progress of our Explorers and make sure they’re developing the right skills, both technical like coding, and entrepreneurship, as well as teamwork and leadership skills. One of the branches focuses exclusively on communication, especially in a virtual environment, since all of our projects are done online and in real time.

Q: What are your thoughts on leadership in global teams? Could you share some tips on how to lead a successful global team?

C: Whether you’re going to be a good leader or not will depend on most of the aspects of global teams we’ve already discussed like communication, culture, and etiquette. So dealing with these aspects and optimizing them will be an important part of your responsibilities.

I would say that the basic principles of leadership work for all teams, including global ones. My advice would be to stick to the basics and you’ll do great. Ensure that you’re focused on the right question and that you have a common understanding of the problem. Listen to your team members and ask for their feedback. Empower them to give their best and create a setting where it’s OK to make mistakes.

Q: How can children who have signed up for Nobel Explorers benefit from working in global teams?

C: Online learning itself is a great opportunity but one of its main challenges is that people struggle to keep their motivation. For instance, did you know that only 10% of people who enroll actually finish an online course? So the vast majority of people drop out and it’s mostly because they’re not engaged enough and they’ve lost the initial drive that led them to sign up in the first place.

The fact that our Explorers get to work in a global team reduces their chances of quitting on many different levels. When they work together, they form a bond among themselves and build a sense of responsibility towards each other. They become aware that by leaving the project they’ll also be abandoning their friends and damaging their work. And when things get tough, they’re not alone. They share the bad and pick each other up. It’s an amazing thing to witness first hand.

We’ve also incorporated many different features and methods that increase the motivation of students and allow them to stay engaged throughout the course. They get to work on projects they chose themselves, so that way they’ll surely be working on something they really find interesting. One reason people quit is they get frustrated and can’t overcome a challenge. Each project has a team of expert instructors who are there to help students whenever they get stuck and encourage them to see the project through. Finally, when they finish the project, they have a tangible product with real-life value to look forward to.

The proof that our approach works is in the stories of our Explorers who’ve kept working on their product even after the course is done. It’s very fulfilling to see them wanting to improve their product further and continue working together.

I wish I had had the chance to work in global teams when I was a kid. Meeting cool people from across the world and working on projects I was actually interested in would have been a truly exceptional experience. But I’m also very glad I get to contribute to the cause and help open up opportunities for kids everywhere.

Are Gifted Children Limited in a Traditional School Setting?

Sophie is an academic, test prep, and life coach at Nobel Coaching & Tutoring as well as project instructor and soft skills expert for Nobel Explorers. She is an authority on the topics of developing teamwork and leadership. Through 1-on-1 coaching sessions, she helps students improve both their academic and personal life, all the while learning about the challenges children are facing in the 21st century. Sophie shares her insights on gifted students, their characteristics, challenges they face, and what parents can do to help them reach their full potential.

Question: What does it mean to be a gifted student?

Sophie: The term itself is very much related to and represented in the field of educational psychology, and there are many definitions of what it means for a child to be considered “gifted”. The consensus is focused mostly around the fact that gifted children are those who have really high intellectual capabilities. Other definitions usually build on this in various ways, for example, adding into the mix other characteristics such as talents for specific activities. I myself prefer sticking to the first, narrower version of the definition because I believe it’s useful to make a distinction between “gifted” and “talented” children, since they will be different in terms of their advantages and challenges.

In an educational context, these children are advanced in their general intellectual activity, meaning they are likely to show success across most if not all subjects. They’re going to be good at both math and languages, science and humanities…

Q: So why don’t we just use the term “intelligent”?

S: All gifted children are highly intelligent, but not all intelligent children are gifted. When we talk about gifted kids, we assume they have innate high intelligence. However, you can have a very intelligent child who is not classified as gifted because they might have some issues in school. For example, they have ADHD or they struggle with executive functioning. So for a child to be considered gifted, they’ll need to have a combination of a very high IQ and good executive functioning skills.

Q: What would you say is the main game-changer for gifted children in the 21st century?

S: I feel like a lot has changed for gifted kids in the last 30 years or so. Mainly because before that, there weren’t that many specially designed programs for them to explore that would allow them to unlock their full potential. They used to be limited to the regular classroom with all the rest of the kids, which had its pros but some cons as well.

Q: How can we spot gifted students? What are some of the main characteristics of gifted students?

S: Gifted children seem to be gliding through school without any difficulty whatsoever, and this should be your number-one clue. If you’re a parent, you might notice that it takes them no time to finish their homework. You kind of get the impression that school is super-easy for them and they get through it without ever struggling.

These kids are able to adapt to new challenges pretty quickly and they easily grasp new ideas. For instance, when introduced to fresh materials in subjects like math, which most kids struggle with, they don’t require a lot of practice. Not only do they have the ability to acquire new concepts faster than the rest of their peers but they also learn to apply them really well.

Q: What would you say are some of the main obstacles gifted students face these days?

S: I think there are several issues for gifted kids in the traditional educational system. The main one is that they’re not really being challenged. Gifted children are probably bored at school. They’re probably bored out of their mind! If everything comes easily and naturally to them they’ll never have the opportunity to struggle and build resilience.

Finding something that actually challenges them will help them keep growing and learning to overcome obstacles. The obvious solution might be signing the child up for a gifted program or have them attend a school for gifted kids, but that comes with another set of issues. Sure, now they’re being challenged so that’s one less thing to worry about. Still, these kinds of environments tend to be really competitive and that can cause a lot of anxiety in a student. Even though they’re very good, even though they’re very smart, having to perform in a context that promotes competition can create a lot of pressure and have a very negative effect on a child’s mental well-being.

Another obstacle they face in today’s schooling system is that they never learn to properly work in teams. This is a big issue as regards modern and future workplaces. The set of challenges that humanity is facing nowadays is really complex. Let’s put it this way – if a problem was simple enough, we’ve already solved it. What we have today are challenges that require tackling from multiple angles, by experts in different fields. Having a good, strong team and knowing how to function in it is an essential skill for professionals in the 21st century.

Now, if you’re a gifted kid and you get teamed up with someone at your school in order to, say, complete a project, a couple of things can happen. Option one is you’ll be doing most of the work. This is teaching gifted students that teamwork is all about you doing the lion’s share of the work and other people just coasting along. But let’s consider that your teammates actually want to help. The gifted child still has very high expectations, which could make them want to contribute to other aspects of the project and take over assignments of others as well.

In the first common scenario, gifted students are learning others are lazy and don’t want to do their part. The second teaches them other people can’t really perform to their standard and since they’re fearing a lower grade, they think they have to do the work themselves.

The main factor at play is that they are not teamed up with people who are at their level of understanding. To really learn the value of teamwork you need to be on a team with people who have abilities or skills that are different from your own but at pretty much the same level. A context where either someone’s a little bit better or you’re a little bit better than someone else. As a group, you all need to function on a similar level in order to appreciate the value of working in a team as opposed to working by yourself.

Q: What can gifted children do in order to overcome these common challenges?

S: The main thing is to find an interest or a project that really challenges you and puts your capabilities to the test. That is something these kids lack in the school system. Go into something that doesn’t come naturally and doesn’t come easily. That might be learning a musical instrument or practicing a sport or it can be a host of different things, but find something that really feels challenging and you have to work for.

What’s difficult for you might not be for someone else, and will differ from person to person. Maybe you’re really talented at school but you struggle with sports, so getting on a sports team will put you in a situation where you can work at it and gain resilience. Or maybe you’re great at school but you want to get more familiar with a particular subject. Let’s say you’re looking into something like coding or web-design. You can pursue it and go deeper to a point where it becomes really challenging. Even if your school doesn’t provide you with a challenge, I’m sure there’s more to that area than what you’re able to learn in school.

The second thing is you need to find an environment where you can learn to collaborate with other people and that probably means finding a team that is at your level. So it can be extracurriculars, online classes, school newspapers, sports teams… Something that doesn’t come naturally, something that you really need to work for and that’s going to be very different for different kids.

Q: In your opinion, what is the number-one skill gifted children should focus on developing?

S: I think resilience is one of the most important skills that you can build, for all children. I think a lot of people view it as a trait and not a skill, but resilience is just knowing how to deal with obstacles. Not crumbling in the face of a challenge, but rather facing it head on and solving issues along the way. However, it’s a skill that a lot of people don’t learn and gifted kids are especially in danger of this since they meet fewer challenges early on. Everything comes easily to them which means they don’t have to learn resilience.

But in life, as they go through the educational system and into the workplace, they will definitely face challenges. They might, say, get into a very competitive college. Now, all of a sudden, they’re surrounded with a bunch of people who are as smart and as talented as they are and the workload is a lot greater. There’s a lot more stress than they’re used to, and if they’ve never learned how to face challenges properly, this is where they might crumble.

Q: What are some of the pros and cons of being a gifted student in the digital age?

S: Some challenges are universal to all kids and they apply for gifted students as well. For instance, the era of social media is shortening our attention spans, which is a challenge for adults as well. However, the opportunities of the digital age are really great. Online, you can learn anything. There are so many things to choose from and if you have the right mindset, you can find something that will challenge you and you’ll want to spend your time on. Unfortunately, what I’ve often seen is that people start learning something and then give up fairly easily. They take up a course, it seems really interesting and a couple of weeks in their motivation drops and at that point, they just stop investing in it. So the opportunities are there, but making the most of them is not that common.

Q: How can Nobel Explorers help gifted students reach their full potential?

S: Nobel Explorers is a great opportunity for gifted students. What we offer them is an environment where they can learn to collaborate with other people and where they can work on something challenging. The projects that they’re working on can’t be done by just one person. This means they’ll be working on an online, international team where everyone has their own role. This is something that mimics most of the workplaces you’ll find in the 21st century.

On one hand, they’ll have a team and their own role within that team so they’ll need to learn how to collaborate with the rest of the Explorers in order to complete the project. On the other hand, they’ll have the opportunity to go in depth on their area of expertise and interest. So let’s say their team is building a website and they’re the designer. Maybe they want to learn a little bit more about website design or graphic design in general. If they have extra time, they can go and do that without having to step on anyone else’s toes and overtaking other people’s assignments.

Gifted children need the right environment in order to reach their full potential.
At Nobel Explorers, they will work in a modern online STEM camp as part of a global team, alongside peers who share their interests and abilities, while learning essential technical, leadership, and teamwork skills.

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Q: Can you share some tips for the parents of gifted children? What can they do to contribute to their child’s development?

S: Parents should let their kids face challenges and help them through them. I think a lot of parents fall into the trap of doing everything for them just so their child will be happy. It’s very normal to feel this way, but the parents tend to go into obstacle-removing mode. They remove anything from their child’s life that’s difficult or unpleasant. This is a problem because kids who are really sheltered won’t learn critical life skills they’re going to need as adults. You need to let them face and overcome their challenges, whatever they might be.

Whether they’re at school or they have social challenges with their friends, don’t remove the obstacle but teach them how to deal with it. You can start doing this when they’re very young. If your 5-year-old has a problem in the playground with another kid and they’re really sad or upset about something that this other kid did, you can be there and support them through that. But don’t simply take your kid out of that environment forever. These situations will be incredibly helpful for your child’s development.

There’s one more issue parents can help out with. Gifted kids can sometimes have very high expectations of themselves. Parents play an important part here, their influence being greater or smaller depending on the situation. Let’s consider a scenario where the child has high standards for their performance and their parents share these expectations as well. That can be a problem if the child is intellectually well ahead, but emotionally still on the same level as their peers. A typical 15-year-old, even though they’re really smart and have no problem grasping all the subjects intellectually, can still struggle with the pressure of it.

If you have a kid like that who is gifted but struggles with the pressure of performing at that level, help them lower the bar. It sounds counterintuitive but I’ve seen it first hand. These are usually kids who do math problems in their free time for fun. They don’t need encouragement. They need you to help them set the bar lower so that they can perform without feeling pressured. Help them understand and accept that they don’t “need” to get an A and you can suggest a less stressful goal, like getting a C, for example. What should happen is, even if they get the occasional B, they’re still probably going to get mostly A’s because they are still gifted, engaged, and interested. But by lowering the bar, you’ll be removing the pressure from the equation and reducing stress. Without pressure, there’s less anxiety, which means your child will be happier and healthier.

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