Top of the Class

Ep #26 Making Change Through Advocacy, Action and Insects With Astro Adara

January 13, 2021 Crimson Education Season 1 Episode 26
Top of the Class
Ep #26 Making Change Through Advocacy, Action and Insects With Astro Adara
Chapters
Top of the Class
Ep #26 Making Change Through Advocacy, Action and Insects With Astro Adara
Jan 13, 2021 Season 1 Episode 26
Crimson Education

17-year-old Adara Hagman is an explorer by nature and her intellectual curiosities have helped her to create mentoring start-ups, get grants from the Canadian government, give presentations on genetic engineering and have cricket protein bars on her desk.

We chat about how she has partnered with organisations like IBM to work on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and how she is empowering more youth to feel like they can make a difference in reaching these ambitious goals for humanity.

You can connect with Adara on Twitter and LinkedIn or visit her website and blog where she has resources for circular design, talk recommendations and more.

Her recommended Slack group for climate action is Work on Climate  and she is also a member of The Knowledge Society.

The Top of the Class podcast is powered by Crimson Education. If you want to learn more about your path to top US, UK or European universities, click here to request a free and private meeting with an Academic Advisor in your area.

We invite listeners to fill in this form to be considered for the show.

**Interested in STEM? Download the Ultimate Resource Bank for Science Students with the favourite resources from young scientists featured on the Top of the Class**

Show Notes Transcript

17-year-old Adara Hagman is an explorer by nature and her intellectual curiosities have helped her to create mentoring start-ups, get grants from the Canadian government, give presentations on genetic engineering and have cricket protein bars on her desk.

We chat about how she has partnered with organisations like IBM to work on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and how she is empowering more youth to feel like they can make a difference in reaching these ambitious goals for humanity.

You can connect with Adara on Twitter and LinkedIn or visit her website and blog where she has resources for circular design, talk recommendations and more.

Her recommended Slack group for climate action is Work on Climate  and she is also a member of The Knowledge Society.

The Top of the Class podcast is powered by Crimson Education. If you want to learn more about your path to top US, UK or European universities, click here to request a free and private meeting with an Academic Advisor in your area.

We invite listeners to fill in this form to be considered for the show.

**Interested in STEM? Download the Ultimate Resource Bank for Science Students with the favourite resources from young scientists featured on the Top of the Class**

Podcast Host  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Top of the Class podcast. I'm your host Alex Cork. And in this episode, I chat with Adara Hagman. Adara, is a 17 year old from Canada who has partnered with organizations like IBM to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals, and who is working on projects as diverse as insect burgers to 3D modeling. We chat about the need for both advocacy and action, for tips for networking with organizations, and why you don't need to know everything to make a difference. Hi, Adara, welcome to the top of the class podcast, it's fantastic to have you on Can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?


Adara  00:52

That's for sure. I'm excited to be here. So hi, everyone, I'm currently 17. And for me, my whole kind of passion lies around sustainability and exploration. And those are two really big areas for me. And what ties it together is this idea of closed loop systems. And that's basically us being able to reuse materials in a circular loop, which is really exciting for me in terms of us being able to slow global warming, making sustainable cities and also us being able to go to space, for example. And if we want to live on Mars, then we need to be able to happy systems. We want to terraform it and live there and like our future food and energy and everything. That's really exciting to me.


Podcast Host  01:29

Awesome. So there's a lot of different things that we can talk about. But one thing that I want to start off with is your move from activism to then now I guess, being the action maker, can you talk about that balancing act between the activist side of things, what would be the other title and action maker a change maker


Adara 01:49

I like change maker but would like to even say like, I think even advocacy is a great form of Changemaking, as well. So I can definitely talk about that. And kind of like how I framed it in my life and think about it now. But maybe even this chapter can be like innovator in a sense, just because I'm going with more of like a technology problem solving perspective. So I'm really passionate about environment and women's rights, I'm going to talk about those issues and work on campaigns and things like that. And, you know, that's all I knew how to do. So that's what I started with, because that's all I knew about and I was exposed to. And I wasn't sure if I was making a lot of impact, and in doing so, but it felt like at least I was able to do something and I'm grateful I got to start there. But I almost felt like I wanted to do more like it did feel super tangible. And I wasn't sure if I, I was like too young to do anything. And then from there, I just had a bunch of kind of like serendipitous events happen, I guess, probably because I knew where my interest lied. And I think when you kind of know what you're interested in, you're seeking for things that kind of just pop up sometimes, which is kind of cool. From like working with charities, specifically, I was in their first ever social entrepreneurship program. And that led me to find TKS, railing about technologies. And I was already really interested in programming in school, I thought it was really cool. And robotics specifically. But I didn't know anything about all these crazy technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence and stuff. And when I heard about them and tickets, I was so excited that these could be tools. And I felt like I could do more by doing more actionable things. And I want to emphasize that I think it's so important to have that because the piece too is we're not talking about it. That's kind of the first step. But then from there, I feel like if you have advocacy, but no action, then it's just all talk but you still need that part before people are still talking about the problem. So then you need that second step after. And I felt like I could make more impact from actually being able to do that, which is kind of what ended up happening learning about technologies than just advocating for Sue found, like the advocacy and like the policy space more specifically. So for example, one of the conferences I went in before it was called the women's forum. And they work on the g7 mandate and a lot of like more woman related policies towards a bunch of these, like global conversations. But I found like from doing things like that, I was also in the Ministry of Education Council in Ontario, which is the province I live in, in Canada. And we got to make proposals and recommendations and all these things. But I found policy was so slow moving, there was um, United Nations youth general assembly was called the younger this year. And then we came up with this whole community of like, all these different problems that youth are really passionate about from the delegates across the world. But I still find that's really great. So we can get like, you know, our voices and opinions, or maybe some action can come from that. I just find it again, it's like a really slow moving area. But I think it's also so important that we have all these different aspects of change. So if your thing is advocacy, or if it's even like art or technology, and I think you know, you should really stick with the area that you like, and see how you can make change in that area. But for me, I think I can create more change within like the problem solving space. And that's something I already really love to do.


Podcast Host  04:37

Well, you got a lot of things going on. I didn't know you were part of the UN youth general assembly, is that's what it was called?


Adara 04:42

Yeah, so that happened this year. I think it was the 75th anniversary, I believe the whole General Assembly. And this cool thing came up this year called the young gun, which stands for the youth General Assembly, it was led by this organization called bridging the gap and they got delegates from different countries around the world to join this Kind of like delegate union where we all had to talk about these problems, right, a mandate. We had some like meetings and things like that, too. We all joined working groups on specific problems. So there was one on like, health, there was one in education, I was in the climate action working group. And we had to talk about those problems, our perspectives, what we would see as like recommendations for that.


Podcast Host  05:18

Yeah, that must have been a pretty exciting thing. How did you get into that?


Adara 05:21

For that one, specifically, again, I find a lot of things like come from I think I like having a network in certain places. And then like, also like knowing what you're interested in for me, again, like climate. And actually last year, so this specific thing, my friend, she invited me to this thing called bridging the gap forum. And it was the first ever one it was in my province, I don't think there was not many youth there, maybe like five actually. But those of us who were able to go got to go to this forum. There's much of cool people there too, like, Frankie grinder that's underground, his brother, and all these celebrities and stuff. And it was a whole forum talking about un related problems and the StG goals specifically, so it was the first one that they held here. And then we got to delegate for that. And then just from like, staying in touch the organization, I found out about the delicacy that they were going to do this year in partnership with the UN for the US General Assembly. And I was like, I need to apply for this. And I do that, and they got two delegates, that was awesome.


Podcast Host  06:17

Great, and knowing when to apply, and knowing what to say, and that application of two very vital ingredients to make sure that you actually get into these fantastic opportunities. So was the application like for that the UN General Assembly,


Adara 06:30

this was essentially like a type form or like a Google form, depending on what you know, essentially, a bunch of questions about like, you know, why are you interested in being a delegate? And I think just really key to any application for a lot of these, like different opportunities, you got to be yourself, don't try to like tell them something that they might want to hear tell them like why why are you genuinely want to advocate for say, you want to do the health pillar specifically. And then like, you know, when you list everything, just like really authentic answers, and then from there to a lot of it didn't getting like any unique opportunity might also be like network. So if you can try to start building that now too, which is a whole like thing in itself to try to work on. But I'm seeking opportunities in areas that are of interest to you, via, you know, reaching out to people or, or seeing like, what events are out there right now that you could get involved with, or like specific organizations for the area that you're interested in. And then from there, a lot of opportunities could stem just from getting involved with one specific thing, which is kind of like for me, I got involved with a charity, which was all about social impact, and youth. And then from there, a lot of things just stem from it. So I think it's sometimes finding like your starting place, and a lot of things stem from seeking the things that you're interested in,


Podcast Host  07:34

kind of like getting involved in one organization, and then keeping your eyes and ears open for other people in the organization that are talking about other things. And like, I know, LinkedIn, you're very active on that platform as well. That's where we connected on LinkedIn. And I think sometimes the social media algorithms like on LinkedIn and Twitter can be very helpful too. Because once you start adding a few people who are involved in these kind of organizations, then it just more and more people get suggested to you they're like, oh, maybe you should connect with this person and this person, is that similar to what your experience has been?


Adara 08:05

Yeah, I totally agree. It just starts from like, looking for a couple to be honest. And it stems from there. It's about like you knowing what you're interested in trying to secret. Like, for example, I like Twitter a lot. say like, you're interested in climate, you could even if you don't know where to start, you could Google some people who are digging climate, find their Twitter's, see, who do they follow, and it will ask many people to, or as a tweet, you might like find more threads. If they had this person, let me check it out. Maybe they're doing something cool. Maybe you want to follow them. It's kind of comes up organically. You can also do things like Google, what's a good slack group for climate, for example, there's a great one called work on climate, which I just learned recently. And I learned about that one. And I was like, This is such a great community, great things like that, where if you look what's a slack group or a community online that I can join for this specific thing. And you can again, from there, start reaching out to people in the slack group or this community and see where you can start your involvement?


Podcast Host  08:53

Yeah, absolutely. I think we can definitely link a few of those things in the show notes. So watch out for that. But I completely agree on the Twitter side of things. I've been following heaps of really amazing students from all around the world. And so I've got about 200 students on there now. So if you want to try and get a shortlist of amazing kids to follow, then that's a good place to start. Just go and click on the top of the class podcast follow list. And you'll see a pretty good run. But yeah, I totally did what you just suggested and went to some, like people like Greta Thornburg and stuff, and I was like, I wonder who she follows, and then followed a couple more of those students. And then it kind of filters down, which is really cool. And from the networking piece, I think slack is something that I have been very surprised in and how quickly that's growing in that slack community group that you're in the environmental one. Are there many students or is it mainly like professionals? Like what do you tend to see from slack community groups?


Adara 09:42

I didn't even know about slack until obviously, I was exposed to it in some sort of sense. If you don't know what slack is, I mean, you could definitely just check it out online, but it's kind of like what I would say to you like Discord. If you know what discord is for like gaming and talking to your friends. It's the same concept. Just normally for more of a work perspective. You have the workspaces. You can dm people And channels, right. And we also used it at younger this year. So we were able to connect with delegates from across the world, you can shoot each other DMS and stuff. But I think it's a really great way to connect with people. I often don't find though, unless you're in a specific like youth community, at least like it's a working climate. And I'm like this future if we wouldn't call it thought for future, I don't see a lot of youth in there. I think the reason is, it's not that you can't have youth in them. It's just I don't think they know about it to be honest. And you know, if that's what you're interested in enjoying it don't. I know, it might be a little bit like even intimidating that you might be the first youth in this slack workspace, but you know that that's okay, you can start being nice people. And oftentimes, they're open to talk to you, which is really great. And also, if there isn't a slack workspace that you want, you can also start one, you can be an activator for the things that you want to do too. So you could be like, I'm going to create my own workspace, reach out to people, starting my community, see if people can share this around for youth working on the future of health. For example, if that's not something and you want to create that community, you can also start it, which is a great thing, you just have to think about what path you want to follow.


Podcast Host  11:02

I think that's a good tip for students to get outside of the school bubble. I know sometimes, how do you see yourself? How do you describe yourself to other students? Or how do you introduce yourself to other people? Do you lead with the fact that you're a student? Or do you lead with the fact that you're founder of a few organizations? Do you lead with the fact that you're an activist or an innovator? Like how in your mind, do you present yourself to the world?


Adara 11:28

No, honestly, it just depends on like, when I'm talking to people, I actually don't typically like lead off with like the founding a specific thing that just kind of comes up if we're talking about a topic that someone's interested in. But for me, the titles that I normally say when I am trying to kind of like encapsulate the type of person I am my interests, I usually go with futurist because I love thinking about the future. And how can we create a better future specifically sustainably. I always say Explorer, I love exploring things, especially like learning but also nature. Like I love exploring nature, I would love to go to space Monday, that's always been a really big aspiration. And I say activist a lot too. For a while actually. Like I think as you're like you're growing up, like you kind of like are figuring out like how do you like frame yourself and all these things, and it keeps changing, which is totally okay. She for me. I think I stopped saying activist for a couple years because I was like, Okay, now I'm in this innovator space more, I'm gonna leave that activism behind. And I kind of forgot about it until the past, like, two years when I was like, why can't I do a bit of both, because it's still important to have that advocacy part. And it was a big part of my journey. So I've been trying to get back into policy a bit more to because it does go hand in hand with making even technology accessible sometimes. And I forgot about that for a while. So I do say that because it's been a big part of my journey. And now I'm trying to get back into it with younger recently, and other related things. And I also say designer a lot now, because I found that's a really good way to kind of like describe the kind of person I am. I like designing systems and thinking about how we can solve problems. And I've always been really interested in art too, and creative kind of things. And that's what led me to wanting to be able to like work on tangibly solving these problems, because they're the kind of like challenges, but I really like solving challenges. So that's been something that made them so interesting to me, I think.


Podcast Host  13:06

Yeah, well, on your website, it said that you are an explorer at Hot scientists and training part time researcher and aspiring astronauts. I love that because it definitely is so far removed from the typical mindset. I think, well, maybe I'm wrong here. And please correct me if I'm wrong, of what a student mindset typically is, like, I feel like a student mindset is very one directional in that you receive information and you then regurgitating it on an exam at some point in time. Usually, that's the kind of student mindset. And I love that in that sentence that you have on your website, it doesn't really mention the fact that you're a student, which I think is really interesting. How important do you feel it is for current students who are in year 910 1112, whatever might be high school to give these other titles a go?


Adara 13:59

Yeah, um, I mean, I'm still a student as well, I don't put that in my thing, because I think that's just something I am. And then I'm just kind of like talking about, like, the things that describe me personally, right. And I think the cool like part of that is, as you are like adopting maybe these titles, for example, the benefits that could come out of it, at least what I have found personally, is that it kind of like helps me understand who I am better and be able to explain it to people, like I know, like, personally, I know like labels aren't maybe like the best thing and you feel like really like kind of stuck in them. But if you can start to find some of the things that do really resonate with you, it helps you better understand yourself. And the goals you have what you kind of like want to move towards. And then when you're explaining to others, it's the kind of like the best way that you can maybe like encapsulate to that to someone else that could be like I'm an explorer, and maybe someone knows what an explorer is, and that we can go into that a little bit more. But it really helps I think and then set understanding yourself and communicating that to others in an effective way. So you can find people who will align with your mission and work with them and stuff. So as like you're figuring out your pathway. I think if you can find some of those things that really resonate with you then then start saying those two If you also want to say I'm a student totally embraced that you're a student too as well. I noticed Yeah, I don't normally say that. I'm not sure why, but I don't know, I feel like maybe it's just a given to some extent that I'm a student, or like, it comes up where people like, how old are you? And I'm like, I'm 17. In high school, right? So I'm a student, but here's like, some of the things that make me me,


Podcast Host  15:18

right. 100%, it's interesting to kind of think that, you know, sometimes student is that kind of old school mindset of receiving information and then going into an exam. But it can be an exciting thing as well, to be a student, you could be a student of space, you could be a student of exploration, you could be kind of more than just sitting in a classroom, like, Don't limit yourself, I think it's really having that mindset, though, that you are more than just someone sitting in a classroom, trying to get a high school, and that kind of can really help develop who you are. And I think it makes you a more interesting person. When you say, Look, I've got passions and interests, and I've got these things that I'm learning about outside of school as well.


Adara 16:00

Yeah, I think being like a student is like a great thing, too. I think, I love this idea of being a lifelong learner, especially like, as moving forward right now, things are changing a lot. It's a really exciting time of like, all these new innovations and problems, we also have to solve which, which are hard, but it brings about all these things, and it's gonna be a lot of change. So we kind of have to be lifelong learners, which is such an important thing. And I think it's kind of about the way that you think about it, and frame it. Right. So I mean, student can like often be associated with again, like the kind of typical school thing of like, we keep regurgitating information. And like we do all these different things, right. But it could also be like, like you said, I'm a student of space, you're a student of XYZ. And even if you don't know what your thing is yet to, and maybe your focus really is you're super excited about the things you're learning in school, to be a student. And then you could like even like, explain to people, if you're trying to kind of like, talk about the things you're interested in that you're like a really big biology enthusiast. And here's why, like, you can go beyond like the classroom too. So it could start from there, like in biology class, and you're loving it. And this is your thing, you could be like, I'm a biology enthusiast, and then take on the things that you're doing in class, and ask a lot of questions. Don't just go from like that, I need to memorize this and regurgitate that also be like, I'm gonna start asking questions and diving deeper into this, because I'm interested in it. What can I do with biology, that's super interesting, and start doing your own research at home, it doesn't just need to be the things that are assigned, necessarily. And that's kind of where you can find passions. And if anything, sends interest from there specifically to


Podcast Host  17:21

Yeah, I think a lot of students don't do that. Because, I mean, a lot of students do, which is great, but I think a lot of students sometimes don't, because they're like, let's just focus on the exam, I was good a good score in the exam. Like, if I want to learn different stuff, a lot of students will ask themselves first, but will it be on the exam, you know, like? So I guess for you? How do you justify learning above and beyond what you get taught at school? Is there something in the back of your mind that says, I'm learning this stuff, even though it's not going to be in the exam? Am I potentially costing myself a better score?


Adara 17:55

Yeah, I know, it's so easy to fall into, like thinking that way. Because we're trained to think that way. That's just kind of how school is we're trained to do that. So you don't know like other ways to frame it necessarily. Now, for me, like it took a while I had to unlearn a lot of things. I think it started a lot like to teach us specifically, like, I love learning, and I love learning in school, but I found like, you know, oftentimes, like, our curriculum is outdated. And all these different things about school, it didn't make sense to me. But we're taught to really care about our grades and like, do things sometimes just for a university application, which probably isn't the best motivator to do something. But we're like, trying to like check all these boxes to make sure that we get into this school by having the perfect life thing just for that purpose, specifically, but I think we have to, again, like think about the bigger picture. And it takes time to like, learn this. And I think I'm going to like a privileged position because I have parents that had been quite supportive of me like wanting to follow kind of, like, quote, unquote, unconventional pathway, and, and not being too hard on me with my grades and stuff. But like, personally, I was quite hard on myself still, because I'd be like, I want to get as like the best marks I can and like, make sure that I'm still checking those boxes. But then I was also trying to do like this new technology stuff starting and everything. And I had to learn that, you know, you can't do both necessarily, and like, well, you can, but you can't like do like everything. So I was trying to do like every club in school, and like crush like grades. And I wanted to do like the whole technology thing and stuff. And I had to figure out what was like, the most important. I left like a lot of extracurriculars and stuff because I was like, I think I'm learning more from doing this technology, extracurricular. I don't need to do everything. I think oftentimes, I've heard universities don't care about you, being well rounded, they want a well rounded class. So if there's something that is like your thing, and that you're really interested in, you spend your time, like say doing technology and like going really, really deep. Yeah. And that's really exciting because you're that kid and then they can have that athletic and they can have their world round of a bunch of people who are pursuing the things that they're interested in and it doesn't need to be one area. It's totally okay to not know what you want to do. But I think it's interesting when when you start like working on your own thing and things and stuff like that, too. It doesn't need to be checking all these specific boxes. In school, I didn't know it was like that way. But that's because we're trying to think that way. So I had to learn that it's okay not to do that. And know that grades aren't always the most important thing. But it's still I would say very important to like, get good grades and stuff. But you don't need to be able to have to do everything and be so hard on yourself sometimes, because you should be working on the things that you're passionate about. I think that translates the best into like, I think you succeeding because I found like, this, like really big trend where like, if you're doing like the thing that you really care about, I think it's oftentimes, like better work


Podcast Host  20:31

better work?


Adara 20:32

Yeah. So they're really passionate about some things like Frank Gehry is really passionate architecture, he does amazing architecture. And like, it's really exciting and stuff. So if like, there's something that you really like it, you go into that area, you're spending a lot of time besides like doing your grades and stuff, like this is the thing that you spend your time outside of school doing as like your hobby extracurricular not having to do like, five, because you feel like you need to, I think you put a lot more effort and thought into that, and it will take you farther. I don't know, that's the correlation. I found maybe it's not true. But um, I think if you do the thing that you're passionate about, it can take you places.


Podcast Host  21:03

Yeah, well, I certainly agree that finding your passion can be can really open up many, many doors. But I know a lot of students will say, Well, how do you find your passion? Now, one thing that I can tell from you is that you are, I guess what many people would say is well read. So you've gone above and beyond school, and you are absorbing information from a lot of different sources. And I think that's helped you find your passion. But you know, for students out there who are kind of thinking, Well, you know, I don't really know what my passion is yet. What advice would you give them?


Adara 21:37

Definitely, yeah, I feel lucky that I, I've found things that resonate with what, but I don't think it's like finding your passion. I think a lot of it, we say that. But I think the way I think about it is is like you're developing it too. And a lot of it comes from being curious. And you have to let yourself be curious. And I think that's one of the things we lose a lot as we go through school. And we're trained to, like think a certain way, we use a lot of the Curiosity we have when we're young. And we want to like ask all these questions about how everything works. And that's what we do, like when we're in kindergarten, right? And then we lose a lot of that. But I think if you kind of like, let yourself be curious. And if you're having a hard time, like set up forcing functions for yourself to do that. So like, I mean, like 10 minutes, or even like 15 minutes a day, I'm just going to spend some time looking into something that I'm just curious about. And like by doing that, it will build a habit. And then you'll just start to seek those things more often and ask more questions about things. But by exploring more things, you can find, like what does resonate with you, but you can also develop that passion, I think, and probably like the reason like I like certain areas is like for me, I think I love the environment, because I grew up loving animals, right. And I loved exploring nature. And I spent a lot of time in nature. And because of that, I think that translates into me being really frustrated when I found out that climate change was a thing. And all these things were happening to ecosystems, animals that I cared about, I got really upset about it. And I was like, I need to do something because I don't want that to happen. So I think you develop a passion based off of the things you're exposed to. And if you're not exposed to something, then you might not even know that exists. And that's the thing that you could be really excited about. So it's all about like, gaining exposure to more things. And you can do that by being curious. And asking questions. And also trying things experiences help you a lot with that, too. So you can exceed as many experiences as you can to try things that you might not have, or that are of interest to you, and you just like keep putting off. And I think it starts with even again, like that 10 minutes a day. I mean, I'll let myself look for something I'm curious about. And that's building the habit from like us, kind of like untrain our curiosity as we go through school a little bit more.


Podcast Host  23:30

I think a lot of students put this pressure on themselves to quote unquote, find their passion. But they shouldn't be starting with what they're passionate about. If they don't have any passions, that's fine. That's Yeah, totally, totally understandable. Start off with what you're curious about, start off with a an interest explored further, see if it makes sense to you see, if you want to explore it even more. And then like, in six months or years time that can then become a passion. But I want to go into what TK is brought to you as well, because it sounded like you know, your journey from advocacy to action was in large part kind of catalyzed by your exposure of tks to a lot of different ideas and concepts and this kind of stuff. How was that not an intimidating experience for you like when you're 15 or however old? You were not very, not very old. I mean, in your mid teens say? And you're looking at these topics, I think most students would be forgiven for thinking that sounds like a university topic, if not further down the track even so how do you kind of say, yeah, I'm excited about all these cool things.


Adara 24:34

It's daunting in many ways when you think about it, for me, like I was, I think it was just because I was more excited about it at first and then then like nervous about how scary it was. I was just excited that I would have the ability to even learn about them in the first place. So for me, and honestly, I was worried I won't even get in. I was like, this is like this sounds crazy. But think about artificial intelligence. I remember I met the first cohort of kids at an event spontaneously and that's kind of like one of my first exposures to them. They're telling me they have LinkedIn profiles and all these things. And I didn't know what that meant. But it sounded really cool. But it also sounded really scary to be honest as well, you're right. But I was also just so overwhelmed with excitement, because to me, that was something I was interested in. I was like, you know, I want to make an impact. I knew that. And this sounded like kind of the pathway to do so. So I just wanted to figure out how I could get in or get involved in any way that I could. And then I applied it, and I did get it, which was so exciting. I was really excited. And I think that's what daddy need not be so scared about it. But yeah, they are really daunting topics. I know some people are just, like, probably more scared than maybe I was coming into it. But for me, I think a lot of it was the way they framed it, like teaching us all these skills and also chasing us like how do you learn on your own the skill of learning how to learn what you think you learned in school, but we don't technically we learn how to you regurgitate. What we should learn is how do you learn because if you know how to learn, you can figure out anything on your own, I could spend my time at home, diving deep into a brand new topic because I know skills on how I can start seeking this information and things like that. And that made me feel like it wasn't as daunting. And I think it's because the way that they phrase things and the way that they broke things down like digestive Lee to us.


Podcast Host  26:11

Yeah, I think that's such an important thing. Actually, I was commenting on a, there was a Harvard program recently started by some students at Harvard, it was like students kind of making the future of school. And I said, one thing that schools should be doing is rewarding students for self learning, they should be kind of instead of saying you just have to stick to the curriculum, and then perform the exam, there should be something or students have the ability to learn something on their own presented, just different students teach different students if that's what they want to do, and then get graded on that potentially, like graded on how they put a curriculum or a topic together. Because I feel like self learning is going to be such a feature of the future of work, like you can't just learn one degree and then be fine for the next 20 years. Like you're going to need to constantly upskill but you've you've obviously gone from the advocacy to action. And I know you're still doing the advocacy part, which as you said is very, very important. But I'd love to talk a little bit about the action side of things and your organization's. So how many different things have you started? And what are they about?


Adara 27:11

I don't even know how many spin offs but I will tell you some of the key things because a lot of us iteration. And that's like a big theme I want to have, as I talked about this, too, you know, wrong, we're figuring things out, it's okay to iterate and figure out what you're passionate about and learn how to frame these things as part of it. Like for me, I'm technically still in my training stages. And I'm moving more into like the building stages of like things will actually start building soon hatchway. But a lot of it like for me is training right now. So just training, research and starting these different things, which is great that I have the opportunity to start young. But for me like some of the things, if you like looked at my website and stuff that are like key organizations, there's this teacher shot factory now, that started last December. And it was kind of a conversation that me and my friends had, where we were both really interested in social impact, specifically, like the policy side, so like SDG goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, and from the UN. And we think they're so awesome. But we have less than nine years now is like 10 years, then to actually hit these metrics. And we didn't see a ton of ton of action, tangibly just more talk about it. And like roadmaps. So we were like, We want to see more of this. So we create a future shot around the idea of moonshots. And then shots are like big ideas, like when went to the moon, for example. And this was all about thinking about these StG goals as these are moonshots for our future. And we only have nine years left to achieve them. So we got to start doing more. So we were hoping our organization would be able to help foster more people to start working on this work on some of our own projects, and the SDG goals, specifically partnering with companies or consulting. So either one of those was kind of the model we're going with and one that we stuck with. And also we want to inspire youth specifically, to feel like they're able to make an impact. And they're not too young, and even, like teach them tools that they can use and things like that. So a lot of it's evolved. And that's like a big theme I find with any project, so it's okay that it will evolve. I was reading some some yc resources recently. And and a big thing I found from those two, from all these, like founders who started these, like awesome startups is this, you don't need to have a great idea at first, it can be a good idea. What matters more is like the problem that you want to solve. really understanding that and being okay with the idea iterating because it will, like so many companies started off as one thing. And now they're like Amazon, right? Like it didn't start off at the same place that it is today. And that's totally okay. feature shot is something we're going to be iterating a lot. We're doing a new launch in January actually just kind of like solidifying more like the stuff we're doing, our new website will be going up and stuff like that. But essentially what we do is again, we partner with companies to work on SDG goals. So some of our partners are UN Women, IBM, and we're working on just main areas. And I think these are going to be like that what focus is we have since we can't work on every single one, but we want to inspire more people to be able to work on some of those other ones. But for us, it's climate action, health, education and equality, specifically gender equality has been what we've been focused on. But that's what future shot was all about. Another big one that came out this year, we do this moonshot company hackathon. You come up with kind of a crazy idea for the future that isn't possible yet, but the technology could work. So my friend nyla, and I, we were really interested in this whole problem with the food industry. Because the food industry, one of the biggest contributors to global warming, a big emphasis right now in the space is cellular agriculture, which is really cool. It's essentially lab grown meat. That's kind of like a solution to that. So definitely look into that, if you're interested. Interesting. Want to see what is another perspective we could take from it. I've been really interested in insect agriculture for a while. So we ended up going with that as like our main focus. Cardboard means carbon neutral carbon carnivores essentially. So you can still have protein from crickets or other insects, but it's more sustainable. We farmed, essentially. And that's what we went with for a while. So we started off like our website and all these different things as part of the hackathon. And we won the, the branding award for that. So the branding around like, you know, the cardboard, everything is really just cool. But we decided we wanted to pursue it more, because it is something that's not too far off. In second culture, people eat insects all around the world. Yes, I'm in different countries, just in North America, specifically, I don't know what it's like in Australia. But people have like this, like taboo thing about it here where it's gross to eat insects, I actually only got I have some very, I have cricket bars and stuff. They're so good. They taste really good, to be honest. So I have so many reasons why we should eat insects, in my opinion, but the whole thing kind of turned into a research project. And now we thought we might scale it into like a little startup where we can make inset projects. But instead, we just decided that we're doing a research project. And we're still working on it. Now. We got a grant from the Government of Canada, which was kind of cool, where we can order some insect products so that we can mess around with like different recipes of like, how can we make bug burgers and things like that? So that's when it's turned into. And we're still working on that now, which is kind of cool.


Podcast Host  31:44

So Carbivore, and future shot, like your two main things at the moment. So yeah, like I would love to kind of go to explore future shot a little bit more as to why did you formalize the organization as future shot? And what's the importance of having the sustainability development goals as part of your organization's stated purpose?


Adara 32:03

No, through the Sustainable Development Goal part, we actually that was kind of like the basis of why we wanted to create it. So that's why it's such a big part of it, we wanted to create it because we didn't see enough action in the StG goals. And we were hoping that we could have like more of a youth led organization that would call for action towards these, but also emphasize the importance of using technology and all these things that we're learning about as tools to do that, as well. And also hand in hand with policy. So these, like different beliefs that we learned about from our journeys. And that seems really important, but we didn't see a lot of, so that's kind of what we wanted to call for. And then from there, like kind of our model of sticking with those StG goals, because that's where it started with and what we wanted to work towards. And also, like, Okay, so we're gonna talk about one point, but depending on moving back a little bit, the Sustainable Development Goals as a whole, like, we thought of them as like moonshots themselves, for humanity, right, the moonshots for a more sustainable future, whether that be in like our health and the quality that we have on our planet, and like the environment aspect to right, even like with the climate change problem, it's the same time essentially, we have like, less than nine years to actually slow global warming aligns really well with the SDGs, before we hit this tipping point, that's really bad. And actually might speed up now, which is a little bit scary, to be honest to me. Yeah. So they were like, really big, like goals that we could kind of move towards as a whole, like our whole planet. So we thought that they're a really good model to just keep sticking with anyways, but just putting more emphasis on the action towards them, and the ways that we can do that. And working with organizations as our model, we thought would be good, because a lot of these big organizations, you know, they talk about it or, or they want to seek ways that they can make an impact as well. But maybe they don't know where to start. So we would reach out to some of them and be like, would you like to work on an SDG related project? Or do you want us to help you learn more about them, things like that. And we got some great responses. And sometimes it starts with just asking and seeing where people need help. And kind of my philosophy towards like reaching out to people and asking, even if you could like partner, or like have a meeting and stuff is what's the downside. And obviously, please be like, polite, please be authentic to it. And all these different things that are really important that I'm hoping they're a little bit more intuitive. But when you're asking if you could have a meeting, or whatever it is you want to do, I think, oftentimes like the way I think about it, people often ask me like how I do it, and don't find it super scary on my friends, you're like, I find it really scary to reach out to people. And I'm like, what's the downside? Because if you don't ask the answer is no. And but if you do ask the answer could still be no, but if you did it, then it would be no, but there could be a yes. If you did ask. So you have more of that probability of there being Yes. Right. So you might as well ask, and IBM could say, No, I don't want to work with you. But they said yes. Which was cool. And if we didn't ask then it would have been no for sure. So let's think about it. And I think it's really awesome that some of them do you want to work on these different problems and support us as well.


Podcast Host  34:51

So what happens after you got the yes from IBM,


Adara 34:54

we started working on on one of our projects, and it's just kind of like we didn't know how to do a lot of this stuff. First, we were like this, but we want to do, but we don't know how the process will work. And they were like our first formal partnership. I'm so grateful for that. But we were figuring it out. We're like, so to me, should we create proposals should we, like do all these different things, it was kind of just a lot of like a learning experience to this past year. And now like, the past couple of months, we've formalized, like, kind of like our processes towards these things, things you want to carry on and, and we've learned a lot from like, trying it out for the first couple of months. So like having our first meeting, we kind of like, learn the tone of collaborating with them, like, what are they looking for. And then we even like talked about, like, what we're looking for and stuff. And out of that we learned a bunch of structures that could work for us. So like, for example, like something we typically go with as well, we do like a brainstorming like get to know session with the partnership, then we normally end up writing a proposal sending it to them. Sometimes we have another meeting to discuss that and get ideas or they just like it works, because it's something we talked about in that initial meeting, too. And then we do like action plans from there. So how can we actually make it happen and what steps and things we're going to be doing over time, a lot of it was figuring it out. But I think it's really important to train the skill of figuring it out. Because again, that's that, like, lifelong learning piece.


Podcast Host  36:06

Absolutely. What I love that idea that you pitch to IBM, they said yes. And you're like, Huh, okay, so what do we do that type of thing, like you're learning about how to interact with these companies. I think that's a really key point that you don't necessarily need to knowing everything about what will happen next. Before you start reaching out, you will learn as you go. And I think a lot of times, you know, my life as well, like, I've stopped myself from doing things. Because I felt like I needed to know everything before I started, where like, you can't know everything before you start, because you will learn as you go. So it's kind of that paralysis by analysis type of thing, right? Where people overthink things, and then don't do anything because they're like, I just don't feel ready yet. Whereas like, he reached out to IBM, and you've been learning along with IBM, as to how to write proposals, and you know, the way that they want to conduct the relationship. Can I just ask how did you set that partnership up initially? Was it like a cold email to the IBM info line? Or, like, were you introduce to someone, how did you get started there,


Adara 37:09

a lot of partnerships were different. But for this one, it was having a connection through LinkedIn, and then asking Hey, to our connection, if we could have a meeting with them. And that's how this one started. And a lot of it again, is like having that network starting to build it now. Or like, you know, getting involved in an organization. So you get to know different people. And from there, you know, that can stem to something in the future, as well. And one thing I like to note too, is like, please don't be transactional. I know that can sometimes happen as like you're trading these things, but build these relationships, because you see how important it can be to build relationships, but also value them and what you can learn from out of having relationships as well and see what you can bring to like different teams that you want to work with as well. And I also wanted to add on, I love the point you had about like, you know, like you don't feel ready yet. I think that's like a big theme, especially with like, three is wanting to make action today, you're not never feel ready to do something, in my opinion, I think he's in that when you don't feel ready, sometimes you have to push yourself to do it. That's kind of like the whole like even seeking discomfort thing. I normally use it unless it's like something super risky. But if I don't want to do something like I don't want to speak at this conference, because I am scared like I want to back out of it. And then I'm like, that's a trigger that I should probably do it. Because it will help me a lot. If I tell myself, Oh, I'm really scared, I probably need to do this. So I can start training getting better at this or even like, knowing how to talk on podcast is scary to like, I still get so nervous before, like this, I was like, Oh, I'm nervous. But you have to do like your first couple of like, articles, whatever thing that you're working on in order to feel comfortable with it and start building it and you're never gonna feel ready at first, you just have to push yourself to take that first step. And it's okay to also not do it perfect at first, you're not going to show you know that and also not like, do it all at once the like with that thing I was talking about with curiosity earlier, I think oftentimes, we don't do things because we're like, I don't have four hours to spend like diving into this thing today. So I'm not going to do it. I'll do wait till I have a lot of time one day, but then can be like I do have 10 minutes every day. So why don't you just spend 10 minutes doing it every day like in small chunks. It doesn't need to be I have all the time now. And because I don't mean to push it off. Think about how can I make it possible to start?


Podcast Host  39:11

Right? But what would be your advice for students who want to start learning a new skill who perhaps have never really gone above and beyond school to learn something on their own? I mean, you have by the sounds of things started to develop at least and it's an ongoing skill in and of itself, how to learn, right? When you don't necessarily have a teacher they're guiding you. So how do you approach it and what do you look for in resources? And how do you process that new information?


Adara 39:37

There's so many different things I get a lot of it will be figuring it out as you do it, which is something you'll also be training but I kind of like as a starting place when it when I'm trying to like understand something. So say I'm trying to learn genetic engineering for the first time. I think I normally go with just googling what is genetic engineering and it's so simple, but you watch a five minute video just hit the LIKE THE really simple like Justin And then from there, if there was like some concepts you didn't understand stuff, write those down and like start looking into those all individually when you have like the different pockets of time to do so. And then from there looking into different research papers and things, again, depends on the subject, but you could start seeing what are some new research papers that are coming up, try Google Scholar for that. And when you read your first research paper is gonna be so scary totally is you're not going to understand what this said, it's probably going to be like reading a different language and be like, What are all these strange words, about machine learning about genetics? What is this gene I don't understand. And like, highlight all the words you understand, because you're not going to understand most of it. But then every time you search one of the words, to try to understand this first paper, you're gonna learn a ton. And then as you keep reading a new paper, it's gonna be easier each time. And that's how you slowly kind of become more in depth with your knowledge in that area. And then it will lead you to do things or you'll find something interesting about one area and you'd be like, I want to learn more about specifically plant genetics, or I want to learn more about this health genetics for this application that will lead you down different trails to keep learning. And you just got to be like resourceful to thinking about where can I find more resources? Can I find some slack groups, but I think just start from the basics, if you can read some research papers, basic articles, just to get the gist of it. And then where you don't understand, try to bridge those knowledge gaps. And that will help what you have all the same resources that Elon Musk does on the internet, pretty much. Right? So there's so much there. I mean, it's hard to filter through all of it. But there's lots of great courses there, too. Like you could look up great machine learning courses. There's some great ones on Udacity for specific things to do self driving cars, or all these different like course platforms, right? Like Coursera and Udemy, Skillshare. Right. So whatever you want to learn, there's probably something out there that could help you.


Podcast Host  41:36

I think you know that self learning is a journey that students should really start experiencing now. And then who knows, they might end up becoming an advocate once they learn a certain amount, and then they can start taking action based on their advocacy and continue to


Adara 41:49

be an advocate. Like if that's the thing that really drives you, and you're really good at it stick with it, too. But if you love problem solving, why'd you go with that as well? I think we need this like, whole like breadth of different changemakers. So that's really important to remember, too.


Podcast Host  42:02

Yes, I can tell that you don't like me saying that actions better than advocacy.


Adara 42:07

I know I said it a lot before I've said it, like in the past a lot. And then I learned over time that like, you know, I think you need so many different kinds of changemakers and people to collaborate on things. It's not just one area. And I think advocacy without any action isn't good. That's something I believe to be true. But I think we need advocates. And we need action takers in different fields and stuff. It's not just one focus area. And I think we oftentimes forget that I forgot it a lot before.


Podcast Host  42:34

Now you've kind of come full circle. And you're back to focusing on advocacy, or at least making that a part of who you are not just someone who's taking action all the time. But someone who's like sees advocacy as a really vital part of what it is you do. Yeah, final questions for you. adara, what is a failure that you're most proud of?


Adara 42:54

And I used to be so scared of doing presentations. And again, it's one of those things where if you don't force yourself to do it, then you obviously won't get better at it. And I think I can do better presentations. So I still can work on it. But my first technical presentation on genetic engineering was, I think it was about a year ago, it wasn't that long ago, which is, which is weird to say. But I've given presentations before that I gave, you know, presentations in school, it's a specific style. But given these technical presentations is a totally different thing than what you're taught to do in school, to have like this, you know, actually professional looking decks and, and like cohesively talk and not be reading from cue cards and things like that, right. And I was really excited to do it. But I was actually so nervous about it. And I went up there and I had all my content prepared really well. And my deck was nice and everything, I put a lot of effort into it. And then I started talking and did my first couple of sentences. I was shaking so much I paused for probably, I think it was like 20 seconds. And I forgot what I was saying. I was like, oh, like I just forgot what I was saying completely. A lot of feedback I got was you lips, so you look so nervous. And like watching that video over again. I was like shaking. I know, like some people's first presentation, it was pretty, pretty solid. But I was anxious. And the biggest piece I got from one of my mentors, he gave me some there was it's not even just sometimes about good content in preparing for the presentation. Some of the preparation is also mindset. And I didn't think about that I was just like, I'm gonna go make myself do it. I'm excited, this will be good. But I was so nervous. I just kept telling myself to ignore that. And he's like, it's so important to also prepare your mindset for all these different things to like, instead of just practicing everything and making the perfect content, take five minutes to figure out how can you get yourself in the zone and tell yourself that you can do this presentation or maybe do a five minute meditation or something. I never thought about that before but it's been a big learning for me. Now I try to always make sure that I am the right mental space to like give a presentation and not like get so nervous about it.


Podcast Host  44:50

A great moment to learn from right and Yeah, I think so many of those early stage taking the labor, particularly when you're a student and particularly when you're a teenager is having that mindset declined to give you the confidence to kind of take that leap. And to get up on stage or to do whatever you want to do. So if students wanted to connect with you, what would be the best way to do it Twitter or LinkedIn,


Adara 45:10

maybe email me at astronaut [email protected] is a good one. But also connect with me on LinkedIn. It's just I don't respond, I think as often I'd like to also check it. And then Twitter, I love using Twitter. It's one of my favorites. But I mean, I think I respond quite quickly on Twitter. But I just don't get a lot of messages there sometimes. So yeah, but I love Twitter so much, definitely connect with me there.


Podcast Host  45:34

So you're 17 you're finishing school soon, what happens next?


Adara 45:40

I don't know what the future holds. But I think the best way to predict the future is to create it. So thinking about the things that I'd like to do, and trying to go towards those things, and also being okay with it not being exactly that because I know that will change. So for me some of those things, like as a whole, you know, I'm really interested in creating sustainable cities, space on Earth, all those areas are really interesting to me. So, you know, working within those areas, I've been building my breath in different areas of this kind of like sustainability by focused on carbon sequestration on future food for a while, right now, I'm actually learning a lot about the energy space, because I want to understand as many of these areas water, food energy, that go into creating a sustainable system, so they can kind of help me in doing that in the future. And I'm also doing things like 3d modeling and, and learning more design things too. So I can design sustainable cities, which is what I would love to do.


Podcast Host  46:30

Well, whatever the future holds, I'm sure that you will approach it with a very full toolkit of amazing skills and experiences and all these different ideas, which I think puts you in a fantastic position to take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way. Right. And yeah, I hope some of our listeners connect with you and follow along with your journey as you go to building future cities or to space or to doing other amazing things, whatever that may be.


Adara 46:56

Thank you so much for having me and please feel free to connect whenever.


Podcast Host  46:59

Thanks for listening to top of the class. subscribe for future episodes, for show notes and to plan your best future head to Crimson education.org