Joe Grabowski started the non-profit Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants to bring science, exploration, conservation and adventure into classrooms through virtual speakers and field trips. He uses Google Hangouts because of the potential reach, with up to eight classrooms from different locations being able to join live on camera and interact with the speaker.
At the same time any number of classrooms can watch live via YouTube. All the hangouts record to YouTube and he is building a library that can be used by teachers and students at any time. Since launching in September 2015, he has run over 400 Google Hangout events and reached tens of thousands of students across North America.
He’s even had classrooms starting to join in from the UK, Germany, South Africa, Qatar and Brazil. Each month he runs at least 20 individual events, as well as full-day and week-long events around themes like Women in Science and Exploration, Oceans, Biodiversity and Space Exploration. These events can have up to 30 speakers and reach over ten thousand students in a day.
Joe used a grant to purchase some BGANs – textbook sized satellite units. To start the school year, he sent units into the field in the Galapagos, Tahiti and Vietnam. Through word of mouth and social media, the Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants community has already grown to over 5,000 classrooms.
About a year after starting Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, Joe won the Canadian Scholarship Trust’s Inspired Minds Learning Project Grand Prize. He was recently named a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.