Meet Jennifer Daftari's fifth-grade class at Jay Elementary School in Jay, Oklahoma. They don't know it yet, but they're going to save the world.
I got an e-mail not long ago from Ms. Daftari in which she made a compelling (and ego-satisfying) case that her students are PopSci's greatest fans. Every month when she announces the arrival of a new issue, she wrote, "they wildly applaud, sitting on the edge of their seats to see what new ideas, technology and inventions their eyes will behold. You and your staff are 'rock stars' to my students."
In this issue of Popular Science, Ms. Daftari's kids will learn of a new movement in medicine that seeks not to eradicate germs, but to cultivate them—to seed our bodies with carefully engineered bacteria that could end tooth decay, elevate our moods, maybe even cure cancer. They'll also marvel at a vision of the near future in which cord-free appliances are powered by electricity plucked from the air. But the thing I'd like them to focus on is the urgent effort by the airline industry to slash greenhouse-gas emissions—to find a way to fly green.
This is no idle pursuit. Airlines are one of the fastest-growing carbon polluters around; air traffic could double by 2025. And as Dennis Gaffney details in "Fly the Eco-Friendly Skies", it's a tremendously complicated problem to solve. Any alternative biofuel needs to pack the same energy punch as today's jet fuel, needs to be able to be made in abundance, and needs to not freeze at high altitude. Says James Hileman, a research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "If you're a kid and you're thinking, 'OK, what can I do to save the world?' Well, the one way you can save the world is to find new, growable sources of fuel."
To me, these kids don't look like the type to back down from a challenge. Now imagine all the other classes taught by all the other Ms. Daftaris out there. I think they can do it.
Cost of paper to write the essay: 5 cents
Cost of pencil to get thoughts on paper: 25 cents
Cost of bottled water to drink while writing essay: 1 dollar
Seeing my kids' faces when they saw they had been published in a national magazine? PRICELESS
There are some things money can't buy. . .for everything else, there's the ABILITY TO DREAM.
Thank you POPSCI for making dreamers out of my kids and kids all around the world. Keep up the great work! To my students: You make your teacher so proud!
From an "Auntie" point of view and totally non-biased (haha)- These kids are remarkable! However, I think Mrs. Daftari should be applauded for her teaching methods which inspire, intrigue, instruct and cause these kids to WANT to save the world! I was so touched by what the kids are doing that I sent a letter to Mrs. Bush telling her about their accomplishments! It's time to stand up for the kids of the world who are doing great things, pat them on the back and say well done! Congratulations to all my "Mrs. Daftari Kids" and congratulations to Mrs. Daftari! Keep up the great work!
You are loved!
Wow! How exciting to read such inspirational comments from such young students! You are simply amazing! I enjoyed reading each article and was so excited to learn what an enormous knowledge bank you all have about our environment. Great job Mrs. Daftari for challenging your students to be so productive and on fire about learning! Keep up the good work. I will look for future articles that you may publish.
4th grade teacher
My name is Cameron King and I am the intern this semester in Mrs. Daftari’s 5th grade class. I am with these wonderful students and Mrs. Daftari five days a week. It is no small statement to say that these students are AMAZING! They have an outstanding commitment towards learning. Also, Mrs. Daftari is a spectacular teacher. She inspires me every day with her dedication to education and her ability to bring out the best in everyone. I am so very proud to say that I know each of these students and that they will save our world. To Mrs. Daftari and the students of her fifth grade class…you are simply THE BEST!
Dear Mrs. Daftari,
It is so refreshing to see both a professional and personal touch in your classroom.
Your students demonstrate a confidence to stretch their thinking beyond the typical 10-12% cerebral utilization that we so commonly employ in our daily activities.
It is apparent you not only impart a problem- oriented mindset in saving the world, but include the personal benefits that individuals, cultures and countries will receive.
I sense more than statistical extrapolations and scenarios in your class essays. There is definitely a warm and engaging desire to genuinely improve the quality of life. Thanks!
This was a very inspiring story. Being a father of five and a medical doctor, I try to instill a love for science early in my children's lives. This was a great idea by Mrs. Daftari and encouraging to see the response. I also find this magazine a great platform to help kindle kids' imaginations with real life research and possibilities for the future. Keep up the great work!
Patrick Martin MD
What effort and ideas! I am truly amazed at the 5th Grade students in Mrs. Daftari's class at Jay! I can see our future is in great and caring hands. I appreciate the hard work you students have put forth in this project. Your point of view is so valuable. You and your dreams will go far! Keep up the great work. Thank you Mrs. Daftari for inspiring these wonderful minds.
Butner Elementary School
Computer Lab Instructor
The most important thing about this exercise is not the ideas that it creates today, but the thoughts it may produce in the future. Encouraging children to think independently and to consider the world's problems is the first step in solving them.
This is a great exercise and the students have done very well in identifying and understanding the types of challenges facing our society.
I am proud to say I was once one of Mrs.Daftari's fifth grade students, and I am currently attending Northeastern State University. It is amazing the ideas fifth graders can come up with. I think everyone could learn something from children if people would listen and really think about what they are saying and not pass it off as childish jibber jabber.
I have always tried to keep my imagination open (I believe great inventions and other things have and can come from what may have started as some sort of silly thought in a daydream), and not think I have to be serious about everything all the time...it is like the, I believe it is a Cheez It commercial where the little girl explains how they get all that cheese in one square, how many adults do you think would think of that. No, it may not be the real way it happens, but it is pretty cool to imagine it that way and makes life a little more fun.
To Mrs.Daftari, I thank you for being a part of what makes me the way I am.
To Popular Science, I think it is wonderful that you are trying to get children more involved and opening their minds up to science, it is a great thing.
This is a great idea! Mrs. Daftari and her class are so inspiring!!
Keep up the great work!
I always knew that Mrs. Daftari would make a great teacher and the proof is in the pudding. This is quite impressive what these students have written. And two thumbs up to Mrs. Daftari for inspiring and motivating her students to learn. This is something that all students should participate in. Way to go Mrs. Daftaries Class and keep up the good work. Your class is a great example of what learning is all about.
What a fantastic opportunity for students to make their voices known. Stories such as these renew my faith in the potential of a well educated mind that is also taught to engage their knowledge with practical action. These students are very fortunate to have such wonderful influences in the classroom. Keep up the good work!
What a fantastic opportunity for students to make their voices heard. Stories such as these renew my faith in the potential of a well educated mind that is also taught to engage their knowledge with practical action. These students are very fortunate to have such wonderful influences in the classroom. Keep up the good work!
I am so proud to say that my youngest daugher Kelli, is in Mrs. Daftari's class and was a part of this project. It is so amazing what she does with these kids!! She not only gives our children the desire and want to learn, but she influences them on such a level, that they know that nothing is impossible with a little bit of hard work! Science is now Kelli's favorite subject! These children are our future, and just imagine, if all of the 5th graders in the world was this inspired, how much cleaner, safer, and more beautiful our world could be. GREAT JOB!!!!
As a 30 year retired teacher of many brilliant children, I am so thankful that there is still a teacher out there who will go the extra mile for her kids. It seems that in the last ten years, mandated testing has taken over the curriculum, which does not leave much time for such innovative time for the students. There are many excellent teachers, but test preparation seems to be the major focus. It has turned into no learning by discovery, only low level regurgitation of information. After reading about Mrs. Daftari’s class, I am excited for myself, because it brings back all the fond memories when teaching was fun and I am excited for these 5th graders who have been spurred on to greater thoughts for our world. They are learning to think! You constantly hear about the future generation being our wealth, but there is no wealth without investing the time and energy to intrigue the minds of our children. Great going Mrs. Daftari and I have great respect for your fifth grade students for opening their minds to learn. The sun will shine in our future with the gold of their productive thoughts. Do you suppose that is why an ounce of gold is worth so much now?
Mary Thornton-retired educator
Mrs. Daftari's class has demonstrated how refreshing it can be to see the world through a child's eyes. While the scientific community is continually looking deeper into the microcosm, new ideas often require a set of young eyes to step back and see the macrocosm. Thank you Mrs. Daftari and POPSCI for your dedication to children and their remarkable minds.
Wow, how refreshing it is to see children with such strong aspirations! As a 2nd grade teacher, I work with children daily to encourage them along these lines. It's nice to see a teacher working with older students doing the same. So often we get lost in the standardized testing that we lose sight of what really matters - the future for these children. Best of luck to each of you!
2nd Grade Teacher
How wonderful to read such great comments from Mrs. Daftari's class. These students are really awe inspiring! This world will truly be a better place with bright minds like these. I commend Mrs. Daftari and her class both for caring about our planet. Look forward to reading more suggestions from these children.
South West City, MO.
Today's children are tomorrow's future. When children find their voice and their passion, they will change the world for the better. Thank you for helping them to find their voice in a world that is almost too busy to listen.
This site is a great way to integrate many skills and content areas into the use of technology. It is exciting to see the new ways to learn that are available to our children. Work sheets are so prehistoric. This is a positive use of internet time and it makes you ask, "What will they think of next!"
I must say how much this article inspires me! I have the luxury of being able to make visits to Ms. Daftari's 5th grade class, something everyone should do if possible. This is an exemplary class, Model of Great Expectations, and a great Science class. This article is just a thumbnail sketch view of what one would get to experience while visiting this class. Congratulations to Ms. Daftari and her students!!
Jennifer Daftari is an amazing teacher. I am not at all surprised that she would have found a way to showcase her students in a national spotlight! She is one of those people who changes a room when she walks in it. I can only imagine how she sparks imagination and hope in her students lives. Way to go, Jenn! We're proud of you and your students.
I am inspired by his letter and that proved that you were really a great teacher.
Writing an essay about "Save the World" is quite challenging.
yes I agree with you with this line: "Seeing my kids' faces when they saw they had been published in a national magazine? PRICELESS"