In the prologue to Saving Time, the third book in the Edge of Yesterday series, published in 2020, the Year of the Coronavirus, I created a time capsule to comment on our extraordinary times from a time traveler’s perspective.
Our own annus mirabilis (a.k.a., the Year of Wonders) doesn’t turn out to be all that unusual—there have been plagues throughout history, political upheavals littering the globe, and social unrest marked by inequality of wealth and inequities of distribution of the social good.
I won’t belabor the obvious tragedies we’ve all been experiencing—the news is littered with those sad details.
But what makes 2020 unique is the fact that, never before, has humanity been so instantly interconnected, from the most remote Alaskan Tlingit community to the largest Chinese metropolises. And everywhere in between.
So while isolation and quarantine have taken their toll, and not everyone has equal access to technologies like Wi-Fi, social media, smart phones and video conferencing, the capacity to spread news, share, entertain and communicate instantaneously has the capacity to bring us closer than ever before.
And what I see happening is that these tools also give us the power to share our stories, our talents, our common experiences and our lives as never before.
This gives me great hope for the future!
In that spirit, here are the Top 10 good things we take away from 2020 at the Edge of Yesterday:
- MASTERY has emerged as a new framework for learning and life. EOY Media formed a brand-new partnership with Maryland engineering company, Acquired Data Solutions, to expand on and deliver our programs, classes, workshops and internships through a new, combined program, MASTERY.
New programs around MASTERY reframe our quest learning beyond STEM to integrate the Arts, Humanities, and Reflection skills. Taken together, the integration boosts the importance of adopting a growth mindset, making meaning and finding purpose.
- Expanded internship opportunities. We ran our first all-virtual, six-week summer internship program for high school students, and it turned out to be a better experience than anyone had dared hope for. Check out the whole story as interns Destiny and Brittany tell it.
- Columbia University Girls in STEM Symposium partners. Here at the Edge, we joined Columbia University to offer a brand-new program, “Engineering Hope and the Future: the Way Forward Machine.” Over the 3-day breakout, teens were invited to team up to research and pitch their passion project. Talk about innovators!
Honored to be in the company of fellow partners, Microsoft, National Geographic, Goldman Sachs, and Boys and Girls Clubs in D.C., New York, South Florida and San Francisco.
- Empowering Great Thinkers—and Building Superpowers of Reflection. I was proud to teach three classes at Chautauqua this past summer, including our first offering for adults in the Special Studies program, “Da Vinci to Disney, How Great Thinkers Think (and you can, too!), with my friend and colleague, Antonia Dapena-Tretter from the Walt Disney Family Museum, to explore the nature—and nurture—of genius.
While we couldn’t meet in person at Chautauqua, which was a bit of a letdown, I was fortunate to visit the campus during our two-weeks of hybrid classes. And, as always, I love teaching for the Boys and Girls Clubs. We did a journaling class for teens, and a STEM for Girls asynchronous class.
- Journaling for your life: How to cope in times of chaos and crisis, our reflection program for teens was a workshop with longtime partner organization, Prince George’s (Maryland) Parks. We had close to 25 teens taking part in the online class. While teaching online has its challenges (like how to teach a writing course on screens—where the participants all had cameras off?!), in the end, we made it happen . . . and had requests for more.
Stay tuned for more in 2021. . .
- An Instagram takeover, leaders interview and book giveaway were all part of the fun this fall with one of our newest partners, GenHeration. Delighted to celebrate together with some other fabulous women entrepreneurs, and to offer writing tips and tools for their members. Can’t wait to collaborate more in the New Year.
- Our longtime collaboration with Girls in Technology and the CyberPatriot Girls program has also been adapted to the virtual world–although we didn’t have the chance to meet in person for our 5th annual STEM Trek celebration at the University of Maryland in the spring. Hoping that we’ll all be able to join together again in person for STEM Trek next May for this great hands-on day of STEM and STEAM activities, guest speakers, good food and fun!
- Proud to be bringing a taste of MASTERY to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Washington in late January. In our first joint program, Edge of Yesterday and ADS will be zooming in on the possibilities with volunteers and parents, as we forge a new partnership with the long-established organization.
- For the third year running, Edge of Yesterday is bringing history alive with the help of students at St. Andrews Episcopal School (SAES), and our friends from the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL). This year, we began a project for students in the 10th grade history class covering the period from Renaissance through the U.S. Civil War on a final paper project, to result in publication in our Time Travelers portal.
While work on student projects was delayed due to the unfortunate coronavirus interruptus in March, students pitched stories on a cornucopia of topics, from “The Scientific Revolution: from Alchemy to Chemistry,” to “Secret Societies: What role do they play in the modern world?”
Plans afoot to regain momentum once school settles into whatever “normal” will come to mean in the not-too-distant future.
- The Leonardo trilogy finale, Saving Time, came out to raves. Though our in-person book launch had to be shelved (for now), we were thrilled to get the attention of readers and critics . . .with more to come!
Here’s the buzz:
- GenHeration https://genheration.com/robinstevenspayes/
- BookTrib https://booktrib.com/2020/12/11/saving-time-and-defending-scholastics-in-ya-adventure-series/
- Deborah Kalb’s Q&A http://deborahkalbbooks.blogspot.com/2020/10/q-with-robin-stevens-payes.html
Perhaps the best—and certainly our most ambitious—accomplishment in 2020, was a complete re-do of the Edge of Yesterday book site. If not for this 2020 “pandemic pause,” we might not have had the bandwidth to re-design, re-configure and, ultimately, re-launch our book platform in time for the debut of Saving Time. As a result, it’s more beautiful, richer, and funner (not a word, but seems totes approps here), with lots to explore.
But don’t believe me: meet Charley Morton and explore for yourself!
Could not have happened without our EOY Dream Team: Melissa, Diana and Pankaj, for working their butts off to make it all come together in time. You guys rock!
And so, dear friends, at year’s close, we have so much to be grateful for. But most of all, a note of appreciation to our devoted readers, blurbers, friends, interns and program participants.
Inventing the future is what we’re all about – and our future is emerging through the young people we serve. With your interest, support and willingness to engage, everything is possible.
So, buh-bye 2020. We’re jumping into 2021 with both feet. New Year and new adventures. Meanwhile, we’re curious: what’s the new story you want to tell?