Grand Challenges project, ‘What the Moon Saw,’ influential experience for Probst while pursuing master’s degree

UW–Madison’s Caleb Probst was introduced to the Grand Challenges program during his first year as a master’s student with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

After sharing some of his interests with advisor Erica Halverson, she recommended he consider joining “What the Moon Saw” — a Grand Challenges project that combined children’s theater with technology.

Caleb Probst

Probst’s experiences in theater made him a good fit for the project, especially since several team members felt more connected to the technology aspects of the venture. As the project progressed, Probst became more involved with the playwriting and directing processes. Unlike other writing processes, “What the Moon Saw” created a unique challenge for writers to incorporate technology into the script rather than using technology as a means of supporting the script. Probst found this challenge educational and an interesting way to look at informal learning structures for children.

Probst worked on this Grand Challenges project during both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years, and says the experience was influential in defining his first year of graduate school. From this work, he has secured a publishing credit for a chapter in “The Springer Handbook on Augmented Reality” — an upcoming book that explores practical applications of mixed and augmented realities.

Probst says that he also appreciated being able to work on a grant-funded research project during his first year of graduate school because of the relationships he made with faculty members and researchers from several different departments.

Probst, who is finishing up his master’s degree this summer, will begin pursuing a PhD with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the fall. In the future, he hopes to be a professor of education in some regard, but is open to considering different departments and/or areas of expertise.

Currently, he has a strong interest in the power of children’s informal learning opportunities.

The Grand Challenges initiative, launched in 2017, was designed to inspire and facilitates cross-disciplinary interactions among School of Education faculty, staff, and community partners.