About the project

Eyes on the Stars, Feet on the Ground: How Children Around the World Perceive the Universe

Chile, Nepal, South Africa, Ethiopia, New Zealand

Our Universe, in all of its complexity and beauty, has inspired people throughout history to wonder about our individual context within a larger scheme. Children have a unique kind of perception and imagination, and therefore have the potential to offer innovative and creative views of our Universe. In connecting with children and the adults in their communities, I hope to bridge the gap between academic science and pure imagination.


About the Watson Fellowship: 

The Watson provides unparalleled exploration for forty exceptional graduating college seniors in any field. Students conceive a dream-year integrating their unique experience, proven skills and passion and receive support for a year of independent study on an international scale.

This year’s class comes from seven countries and fifteen states. They’ll traverse 74 countries, exploring topics from neuroscientific art to beekeeping, from earth’s extreme life to Asian modern dance, from orphanages to ocean acidification, from youth activism to astronomy.

“The Watson Foundation was an early adopter of experiential learning,” said Chris Kasabach, Director of the Fellowship. “Since the 1960s, well before the internet or mainstream notions of globalization, The Watson encouraged students to engage their ideas on an international scale and put their lives in the context of a world community. This year’s class is a cohort of terrific integrative minds, and imaginative, independent thinkers.”

Watson awardees come from select private liberal arts colleges and universities across the United States. From over 700 candidates, 147 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level from which 40 were selected. Each fellow receives $25,000 for twelve-months of travel, college loan assistance as needed, and an insurance allowance.

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation was created in 1961 as a charitable trust by Mrs. Thomas J. Watson, Sr., in honor of her late husband, the founder of International Business Machines (IBM). In 1968, in recognition of Mr. and Mrs. Watson’s long-standing interest in education and world affairs, their children decided that the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program should constitute a major activity of the Foundation.

Over 2,700 Watson Fellows have taken this challenging journey. A Watson Year provides fellows an opportunity to test their aspirations, abilities and perseverance, while developing a more informed sense of international concern. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international leaders in their fields and include CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, MacArthur “genius” grant recipients, diplomats, artists, lawyers, doctors, faculty, journalists, and renowned researchers and innovators.


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