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The Moonshot Laboratory

Moonshot Thinking

Though it’s a mindset that explorers have embraced for millenia, Moonshot Thinking was codified in President John F. Kennedy’s commitment to putting a man on the moon even though the technology didn’t exist and nobody knew how to do it yet. At Google’s X Lab this mindset was further formalized into a system for addressing huge challenges, applying radical solutions, and developing breakthrough technology. This mindset doesn’t seek a 10% improvement… it seeks a solution 10 times better than before, and it’s known also as 10X thinking. It requires failing forward and failing fast. This is exemplified in the Space X approach to developing new spacecraft. Today, ARES Learning supports students as they address meaningful challenges in their community, generate innovative solutions, and implement creative uses of technology.
Inside the Moonshot Lab

The first Moonshot Lab opened in 2017 and brought together more than 150 students from schools around Honolulu, HI. Over the course of the year the students were given the guidance, the tools, the time and the trust to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing their community. Check out their amazing journey in the video below!

Design Methodology

The ARES Learning method of solving problems is heavily influenced by Design Methodology (or Design Thinking), of the sort used and promoted by the Stanford D School.  This begins with understanding those the problem effects, through a process of discovery, empathy, or ethnography. Then our students define a problem before ideating a variety of possible solutions (using one of a many exercises they are trained in), and choosing one to prototype and test first. They build a prototype online, in virtual reality, or in a maker space with real world tools, including 3D printers. Based on the results of their initial tests, they iterate on their solution, pivot to a new one, or begin the process again.


The way the Design Methodology is implemented at ARES, we leave room for truly innovative approaches, always encouraging students to think bigger - and providing exercises to help them get out of their comfort zone and leave behind their preconceptions.

Student Moonshot Examples

Cardboard Planetarium

In an effort to educate more people about wayfinding and celestial navigation, students designed and built an affordable and accessible cardboard Planetarium that can be assembled by students around the world.

GPS Star Map

Inspired to train the next generation of navigators and explorers, these students designed and a GPS-based Sky Map that projects both western and indigenous navigational star lines.

Low-cost Water Sensors

Water pollution is a big problem in their community. To spread awareness and collect more data, these students worked with an oceanographer to design and build low-cost, portable water quality sensors. 

Here are a few examples of Moonshot projects from students in Hawaii. These students worked with experts from around the world to design and build solutions to huge challenges facing their communities and cultures. 
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