Real life explorer!
Sarah Weldon is a real life explorer, best known for her quirky explorer’s hat, googles, and ocean education channel on YouTube called ‘Sarah Rows Solo’. Sarah creates daily, ocean themed videos, which are monetised through views, and used to buy handheld devices and internet access for children who have no access to education because of gender, war, poverty, or disability. Sarah was named by Skype for International Women’s Day as a ‘woman changing the world through technology’. She is a UK STEM Ambassador, Google Glass Explorer, and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Sarah left school age 16, with no idea what to do ‘when she grew up’. Thanks to a Prince’s Trust ‘Leadership in the Community’ course, she landed a role as an apprentice outdoor pursuits instructor at a centre that specialised in providing kayaking, climbing, and caving activities for people who were disabled or disadvantaged. Keen to understand more about how the biology of the brain affects behaviour, she undertook a degree in Psychology with the Open University, whilst working full time as an apprentice, and so began a passion for work with young people with acquired brain injuries.
Sarah’s passion for developmental and cognitive neuropsychology resulted in careers in Psychology, Public Health, and Medicine, with the NHS, Royal Navy, on film and television productions underwater, and a specialism in environmental, aviation, diving, and space medicine. Her field research work has included medicinal plants in the Amazon Jungle, effects of alcoholism in the Inuit population in the Arctic, cetacean research on the ocean, and archaeological excavations looking for evidence of early man’s migration into Europe. Her biggest challenge came whilst studying maternal and child health in the urban and rural slums of India, when she developed a condition called Guillain Barre which left her paralysed for a period of around 18 months. More recently, Sarah worked on educational reform with the Prime Minister in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, within the Ministry of Education and Science at a time of political unrest and human rights protests.
It was whilst in Georgia, that her environmental education charity Oceans Project was founded by a group of refugee children, as a school club for students who wanted to learn English as a foreign language. Today, Oceans Project is a UK registered charity which provides free, online, environmental and STEM education to over 17,000 young people in 28 countries. Many of these young people have lost parents to HIV and AIDS and live on rubbish dumps where they care for their siblings. Oceans Project provides young people with handheld devices, a bit like having a portable school in your pocket, so that you can learn online at a time that suits you. This is really important because the young people have no home address, are constantly on the move, and have to work all day to get money to feed their family, making it impossible to attend school during day time school hours.
Sarah is currently planning a row around the coast and islands of Britain between May and September 2017, where she will stop off and give talks to schools. Students can follow the journey in real time through YouTube, Periscope, virtual field trips with Microsoft Education, school talks, and social media. From designing and learning how to build a boat from scratch - using traditional boat building methods, navigating with nautical charts at sea, and exploring the coast of Britain, above and below water, using cutting edge 360 degree and 3D film technology.
Sarah is available to speak on a number of topics, tailored specifically for students, teachers, parents, celebration days, or awards ceremonies. From space medicine, neuropsychology, internet of things, STEM, to overcoming adversity, using YouTube for good, life as a CEO and creator, how to build a boat, and what it will mean to follow the same routes and methods used by the Vikings to explore Britain’s coast 1000 years ago.
See Sarah in action here: https://www.youtube.com/sarahrowssolo
“Thank you very much for all of your time answering our questions about Ocean Project this morning. I appreciate all that you are doing for the young people of the world. I know that the students learned from you and were inspired by your work”. Lorraine Leo, Jackson, Technology Integration Teacher, Jackson School, Newton, USA
“I would like to thank you so much for today's Skype session. We enjoyed every second of it. My students were extremely happy that they understood you and that you gave them compliments about their English. They also found it very interesting to learn about how you challenge yourself. You inspired both me and my students”. Miss Magnusson, English Teacher, Ekenässkolan School, Sweden
“Thank you SO much for the Skype lesson yesterday! The kids were fascinated by all of the information and the challenges you will face - of course they couldn't get over the poo in a bag scientiﬁc experiment! We can't wait to track you next May - good luck in your preparations! We really appreciate you giving up your time to share with us”. Roberta Fasano, 4th Grade Teacher, Broward School, Florida, USA
“What a treat! Sarah gave a wonderful and thorough presentation about her upcoming trip around Great Britain. She answered a barrage of questions with grace and aplomb. My students are in middle school grades 6-8. They were so excited about speaking to someone all the way in England via Skype. They couldn't stop talking about their experience throughout the day. It really made them think about what Sarah might face as she begins her journey. This experience made the lesson come alive. I would deﬁnitely recommend this lesson. Thank you Sarah for a great presentation!” Mrs Grosvenor, Teacher/Librarian, Silver Lakes Middle School, Florida, USA
“Hello from Ballston Scholars, 4th grade class, in Ballston Spa, NY. We are learning about oceans and marine biology and we loved talking with Sarah about her upcoming trip. We think she's very brave to try to row solo around Great Britain. We hope she sets a world record! After our chat with Sarah, we explored the world map to see which route she might take. Sarah asked us to research the routes that the Vikings took long ago, so our teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, gave us a good website for that. Now we feel like we're helping Sarah with this cool project! We plan to connect with her each month on Skype and look forward to following her progress. Thanks Sarah!” Mrs McCarthy, 4th Grade Teacher, Ballston Spa, New York, USA
“Thank you very much for this great lesson we had today. Everybody loved it." Magdalena Brodzinska, English Teacher, Zespol Szkol im. Jana III Sobieskiego, Poland