By Natasha Shaw – Education Project Manager
When the lunar lander Beresheet was successfully launched into space in February, there were high hopes around the mission.
But the Israeli space project’s eight-year journey ended in disappointment several weeks later when Beresheet crash-landed on the moon’s surface on April 11.
SpaceIL nonetheless accomplished plenty and this is an important teaching moment for young people in our schools, as well as instructive for us in our roles as educators.
The Israeli team’s story teaches us about drive, resilience and the willingness to take bold risks in the pursuit of giant leaps for humankind.
An audacious pursuit
In 2011, Google presented a challenge to engineers globally: to build, launch and land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.
The Google Lunar Xprize was created to inspire space entrepreneurship, offering $30 million in prizes to those scientists, engineers and space explorers who could make viable plans to land on the moon.
It is no easy feat. Only three space programs have successfully launched and landed a spacecraft on the moon and all of them were from superpower nations: the Soviet Union, the United States and China.
Beresheet’s journey to the moon began when three young Israeli engineers responded to Google’s call. They initiated plans to make Israel the fourth country to land on the moon and the first country to privately fund a moon landing.
This was a pursuit with humble beginnings. A school environment in particular is a place where young people can take risks and push the limits in a safe, supportive and encouraging environment.
See why you should be pushing your students outside of their comfort zone and what stepping outside of your own comfort zone can do for educators.
Resilience in disappointment and challenges
From a modest start and when faced with seemingly impossible challenges, SpaceIL evolved into a national initiative of international scientific calibre.
The competition ended in 2018 without a winner after Google ended its sponsorship, but SpaceIL was nevertheless committed to its mission and continued with Beresheet’s development. This is the kind of resilience we should be fostering in schools.
Academic resilience is about achieving good educational outcomes despite adversity. Pupils facing adversity, whether that’s personal disadvantages, disappointments or failures can experience positive progress in many forms – it’s up to us as educators to encourage them to see how this can be a reality.
Developing your students into resilient learners is not easy, but studies show that resilience has a positive influence on academic performance and there are resources available for free which can help you.
Drive and ambition
Beresheet did not successfully land on the moon, but it touched the lunar surface.
SpaceIL’s goal was to advance Israel’s space program and create a “Beresheet Effect” – to inspire young people to become more interested in science, technology, engineering and maths.
An Educator’s Launch Kit was developed and shared internationally and more than one million Israeli students met the project team over the past eight years. We are very proud that World ORT Kadima Mada is a partner in this initiative.
While Beresheet failed in its mission, the SpaceIL project nonetheless triumphed in its aims. The team may not have arrived at its destination as hoped, but the journey taken to get there sparked curiosity and awareness in the thousands of people who engaged with the initiative along the way.
And the drive continues: SpaceIL has announced it will be using the lessons from this experience to try again and to launch Beresheet 2.
Why not share the story of Beresheet and SpaceIL with your students? Encourage them to see how we can grow through failure and multiply our impact with audacity, resilience and drive.