As Space Shuttle Endeavor is transported to its retirement, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are flooded with comments and photos of its final flight. I can’t help but feel like this is, at some level, the end of an era. An era of big dreams and phenomenal achievements. An era of curiosity, exploration, and discovery. It’s the end of an era of great things.
In my opinion, the Shuttle program is (symbolically, and perhaps physically) the single largest achievement humans have ever made. A highly reliable, mostly reusable machine that can transport and sustain human life outside our protective atmosphere, bringing with it complex scientific equipment, and the spirits of a nation.
What enabled its success? A passion for science, the desire for discovery, and the collaboration of thousands of individuals. Thousands of people working together in teams, collaborating to design and build each of the 1,000,000+ components that comprise one shuttle. Each of those parts must do its job AND work perfectly with each of the other 999,999 parts.
This complexity and collaboration are the motivation behind Cubelets. Just one Cubelet doesn’t do anything useful, just as a single NASA design team couldn’t have built a Shuttle. But when you put a few Cubelets together, they spring to life. Working as a team, each of the members of the group accomplishes what none of them could accomplish individually, and amazing interactions result.
There’s one way to ensure that the end of one era is succeeded by great things in the next: by educating and encouraging kids to do great things. Children possess such amazing creative capabilities. Every group of students we’ve given a set of Cubelets to has combined them in a new way to make a different robot that is completely unique from anything we’ve seen before. It’s incredible!
Dream it and build it – just like NASA. Let’s inspire the next generation of dreamers!