Part 2: Ready, Set, Reinvent Your Curriculum: Transform Learning With National Competitions And Projects


This is the second part of a two part blog aimed at helping educators see the value in having students become involved in national programs as part of the school curriculum. Even if you are not ready for direct involvement, you will still find that these programs offer rich resources  that promote transformation that call out –  Ready, Set, Reinvent!  Take a moment to also visit the 21centuryedtech Wiki to find in depth resources on engaging tomorrow’s problem solvers, today!

We Can Change The World Challenge

Is it possible for a group of students to influence the Environmental Protection Agency to change its mind?  It happened on August 26, 2009 with the EPA announcement that it will begin the process of writing rules to ban lead wheel weights. This action involved students that took part in an initiative sponsored by the Siemens Corporation along with the National Science Teachers Association and Discovery Education. This  program entitled We Can Change The World Challenge engages students at all grade levels by inviting them to be creative in solving environmental problems in their own backyard. View this  wonderful video on the front page of the site.  Explore  how students and teachers get involved in a  competition facilitating 21stcentury standards along with  great rewards and  prizes. Most impressive is the outstanding resources available for free through partners NSTA and Discovery. Examine the  resource page that directs teachers and students to virtual labs, lessons aligned with national standards, quizzes, and videos from Discovery Education. At the elementary level there are even e-books.  There is also a great outline for the Challenge Process which includes Choose It, Research It, Plan It, Do It, Analyze It,  and Share It. Take a moment to register and then view the many challenges students have taken on as part of this outstanding program. Perhaps it is time for you to get involved!

Kids Science Challenge

The Today Show  has highlighted the Kids Science Challenge and the  accomplishments of one its   student winners. The Kids Science Challenge is a 21st century program that will  engage and direct students to the highest levels of learning? Take a moment to watch the entertaining  video on the front page of Pulse of the Planet’s – Kids Science Challenge. The video alone will give you and your students the energy to “Want To Know”.  October 1, 2009 begins year two of this amazing program and  competition. Once again, you don’t have to compete in order to benefit from the resources available on this  site, but I am sure sooner or later you or your students  will want to give an entry a try! In this program  kids view the  latest videos, take part in fun down-loadable activities, and ask questions directly to scientists and engineers.  The final goal is to come up with a great idea involving one of the three new Science Fields introduced this year. Watch all three videos by clicking the links on the front page including  Sports on Mars, Detective Science, and Bio Inspired design. After watching these videos take a closer look at Sports on Mars, Detective Science, and Bio Inspired Design, this years exciting topics for exploration. You will find great links,  super activities, games, and ways for your students to get involved. Want to investigate Science Fair ideas, or just great science activities? Check out a page filled with ideas such as Science Under Pressure, Play Ball on Earth or MarsSend A Top Secret MessageTake the Blindfold Challenge, and Jumping Roaches, just to name a few. These exciting and motivating activities include collaborative group activities, games, videos, and lessons. Dig a little deeper and you will find a gold mine of over 100  lesson plans for grades K-12 students supplied by  radio show, Pulse of The Planet. These  lesson plans use Pulse of the Planet programs and sounds as a focus for learning activities on a variety of subjects. The lesson plans are aligned to national science education standards for grades K – 12. All lesson plans, along with down-loadable audio files, are free for educational use to registered teachers.  The resources from last years competition are also still available for you to integrate into your curriculum. Enhance your curriculum as students learn about the science of  Skate Boards, Flavor, and Water using activities that engage, videos that entertain and inform, and games that reinforce standards. This program emphasizes that desire to “Want To Know”.

I hope you have enjoyed this two part post and have found ways to incorporate existing resources and programs to facilitate 21st century learning in the classroom. Please email or post resources you are aware of and can share with others. I plan on extending this  topic on my partner site 21centuryedtech Wiki which I invite you to visit. Now take some time and  be sure to Ready, Set, Reinvent!

– Mike

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