Can You Solve The Problems Elon Musk’s School Ad Astra Asks Its Students?

3 years ago



Elon Musk is mostly known for being an eccentric innovator and businessman. Still, he’s also a visionary who once believed he can make educational impact by setting up an LA private school, Ad Astra. The school is now successfully functioning, and even has a brand-new tool for both teachers and students. The Typical Student team learned the details.

Educational software company ClassDojo has created an app specifically for Ad Astra school. ClassDojo is developing a number of puzzles called "Conundrums." They will be release to educators and students this fall. As told by Business Insider, the main idea behind these puzzles is to “offer the type of critical thinking espoused by Ad Astra.”

How Do Conundrums Work?

So, what’s so unusual about the Conundrums? As told by Business Insider, “the app is going to pose open-ended critical thinking or ethical problems for the students.” Then, students are fostered to talk these issues over among themselves and work out a suitable solution. Most importantly, the problems posed are more intricate and complicated compared to those addressed in elementary or middle school curricula.

Take a look at the examples of the Conundrums provided by ClassDojo. As you can see, the issues addressed in the app are quite versatile:

#1 Property rights

Here’s one of the exercises which addresses the issue of property rights. In the exercise, cartoon characters find a dinosaur skeleton on a neighbor's land and try to figure out who exactly it belongs to. At that, students are reminded they should maintain the open-minded attitude and respect each other while discussing the conundrum.  

elon-musk-ad-astra-conundrums-01Source: Business Insider


Source: Business Insider


Source: Business Insider


Conundrum: The Teacher’s Version

On the other side, there’s teacher's version of the app which gives prompts on how to evaluate the students’ answers. In the conundrum, there are three claimants interested in the dinosaur skeleton: Mojo and his friends, Yosemite National Park, and a farmer. In the teacher’s version of the app, there are a few twists to the situation. That is, a teacher has an option to see the different resolutions for each of the claimants to the finding. 

elon-musk-ad-astra-conundrums-05Source: Business Insider


Source: Business Insider


Source: Business Insider

Those resolutions throw in a few other nuances to the initial ethical issue. The issues concerning the ownership and use of resources lead to other issues in ethics, law, and economics. Finally, when students are done with the discussion, the app offers them to reflect upon the problem. The results of the discussion can be shared with students’ parents. 

#2 Defacing a Work of Art

Another ethical issue somewhat related to property is surprisingly about Mona Lisa! In this scenario, one of the cartoon characters buys the Mona Lisa. Students are asked to discuss if he has the right to deface the world-famous painting knowing it belongs to him. At that, the app offers a bit of the background telling about the historical significance of the Mona Lisa. 


Source: Business Insider


Source: Business Insider


Source: Business Insider

Obviously, this task dwells upon the limits of personal property rights. This, of course, is an advanced topic especially for elementary and middle school students. Introducing such serious concepts at an early age is important for building liberal society. And, personal rights are believed to be its foundation. 

elon-musk-ad-astra-conundrums-11Source: Business Insider


Source: Business Insider


Source: Business Insider

Gradually, the conundrum intensifies with another question: do property rights presume the right to destroy a crucial piece of Western history?

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Any questions or propositions?