A prestigious competition that engages thousands of students and their teachers, the fourth annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge brings excitement and enthusiasm to the nation's classrooms and communities.
Sponsored by the Siemens Foundation, in partnership with Discovery Education, the College Board and the National Science Teachers Association, the Challenge inspires students to develop sustainable, replicable solutions to real-world environmental issues in their own backyards. Free resources, such as lesson plans, virtual labs, and e-books, available on the website, are aligned to national standards to help teachers integrate the Challenge into their classrooms.
Teachers in diverse districts from Hawaii to Maryland say the contest challenges and empowers students, encouraging hands-on, inquiry-based learning. A record number—nearly 20,000—of grades K-12 students participated in the 2010-2011 Challenge.
The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge aims to advance student achievement in science and sustainability while bringing students together to brainstorm and problem-solve, all while gaining 21st century skills. Students learn to work both independently and cooperatively to identify solutions that just might change the world.
"All teachers need to do is introduce the Challenge to their students and then get out of the way."
A conversation with Cindy Moss, Director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (N.C.)
What did your district do to get involved with this program? I liked how the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge offers opportunities for students at many grade levels to get involved. And that it targets how students can make a difference, which is important to our district.
Tell us how your teachers got the students interested in the Challenge. All teachers need to do is introduce the Challenge to their students and then get out of the way. This is something where students can take the initiative.
How did your students identify a problem and solution? The students looked around their school to identify an issue. They focused on recycling because our schools run out of funding for paper by the end of the school year.
What have you heard from teachers and parents about how the Challenge has sparked greater interest among students in learning about science? Teachers, the principal and parents have reported that their children and students are now looking at other issues in their community and asking questions. They really believe they can make a difference in the world.
What feedback have you received about the program's appeal to students? This challenge is exactly the type of learning experience that promotes diversity and in these students, it brought out their community, artistic, theatrical, mathematical and scientific abilities.
What would you tell administrators at other school districts about this program? This type of challenge is exactly what energizes students and teachers to delve into a deeper understanding of issues. It costs nothing. It encourages collaboration. And it involves developing 21st century skills.