This video was filmed on Wednesday, June 13th at the 2012 National Geographic Explorers Symposium at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Barrington Irving is very good at rising above obstacles. Literally. Raised in Miami's inner city, surrounded by crime, poverty, and failing schools, he beat the odds to become the youngest person and only African American ever to fly solo around the world. He built a plane, made his historic flight, graduated magna cum laude from an aeronautical science program, and founded a dynamic educational nonprofit. Then he turned 28.

Irving's latest adventure is the Journey for Knowledge flight, which is scheduled to depart in 2013. This endeavor will transform a jet into a flying classroom that will circle the globe sharing science, technology, engineering, math, geography, culture, and history.


  • From football star to pilot (start-02:36 min.)
  • Breaking a Guinness World Record and the challenges of flying around the world (02:37-05:00 min.)
  • Capturing the attention of young people with project Build and Soar (05:01-07:12 min.)
  • Creating a flying classroom (07:13-08:38 min.)
  • What does a flying classroom look like? What does it do? (08:39-11:07 min.)
  • Challenges of the new flight and student participation (11:08-13:27 min.)
  • An opportunity to inspire students (13:28-14:25 min.)

Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
  • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
  • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
  • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts and opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?

the distance above sea level.


the art and science of creating and operating aircraft.

Plural Noun

(singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.


height above or below sea level.

Emerging Explorer

an adventurer, scientist, innovator, or storyteller recognized by National Geographic for their visionary work while still early in their careers.


person who studies unknown areas.


person who steers a ship or aircraft.

public education

schools funded by the government and the standards to which those schools are held.

wind speed

force and velocity of wind.