Why Open-Ended Research in High School Travel is Important

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Before starting my high school travel company, Atlas Workshops, I worked full-time around the world as a design researcher. I was hired by organizations – big and small – to dig into different questions with the help of my global partners. From asking how people in Kenya use cell phones andpublic transport to how the Olympics will impact businesses in London, I learned how to mix questions, observation, and exploration to create something new.

Travelling with an open-ended question empowered me as a traveler and a professional. I was more successful and got more out of every trip. Having a research question–a real idea to investigate–drives curiosity, passion, and action.

A Different Type of High School Travel

This curiosity was fostered as a teenager, when I traveled on a number of high school summer trips to Europe, Brazil and Australia. I had a great time on the trips, but quite frankly, I was travelling as a tourist. I was ushered around with a large group of students between tourist attractions and a bus. As I got older and began to work internationally, I realized the missed opportunity. Just because I was a teenager didn’t mean that I couldn’t be thinking big and contributing to the world.

That’s why I started Atlas Workshops — to offer a different style of high school travel — to share this curiosity and passion with our students.

All of our trips begin with a big question — a big idea about the world that is open-ended, important, and real. The specific challenge of each trip, something that is truly unique to every trip we lead, gives high school students their opportunity to explore this problem as a researcher while creating their own unique answers and ideas.

What are we researching?

When people think of research they imagine scientific researchers counting wildlife or academics sitting in a library reading books, or even a college student spending hours at a computer on the internet. Today, almost every successful business, product and service you use began with some research–and the most creative ones evolved from real world research with users and people out in the world.

As more students explore the world, research needs to play a bigger role in motivating this travel and setting the pace. High school travel shouldn’t just be about facebook photos and landmarks, but about finding new ways to connect and engage with people around the world. Our open ended approach to research is the foundation of big ideas and a key 21st century skill.

If you are looking for a different type of high school travel this summer check out our upcoming Global Innovator High School Summer Trips!

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