Articles: DA Archive


Students in the Sacramento City Unified School District need 225 credits to graduate high school and 180 to start their senior year. Some have far fewer than that.



K-2 Winners

"The challenge piqued the kids' imaginations and got them thinking."

Team: Concord Hill Greenies

It is with great excitement that I announce Disney's Planet Challenge (DPC) is back for its third year, and with it we are bringing all kinds of additions and surprises! We're offering new and exclusive trips that put the grand in Grand Prize and joining forces with our partner program, Disney's Friends for Change, to bring even more opportunities to your students' fingertips.

What is Disney's Planet Challenge? Disney's Planet Challenge is a free, project-based environmental and science competition for students in grades 3-8. Kids identify a local environmental problem, then plan and implement a solution based on their ideas.

One day this past spring, three noisy buses drove four hours south from Zachary Elementary School to the Louisiana wetlands. Some 100 eager second and third graders clambered down the steps and got to work, planting 700 bitter panicum grass plugs on the beaches of Grand Isle to prevent coastal erosion.

It was the culmination of a two-year project called "Wetland Warriors: Fighting to Save Our Coast," which won the 2011 Disney's Planet Challenge grand prize for elementary schools.

Fran Wachter's science students are no slouches. Inspired by a fifth grade field trip to the Cache River Wetland, the students developed and began a restoration plan in sixth grade, advanced it in seventh grade and are now—as eighth-graders—ambassadors to younger students who will continue their legacy.

John Fraser, PhD, AIA, is the director of the Institute for Learning Innovation based in Edgewater, Md. He led a study that assessed the creativity and imagination development in children under 12-years-old who participated in Disney's Planet Challenge.

What was the goal of the research?

We aimed to understand if Disney's Planet Challenge contributed to the development of imagination and creativity skills for participating youth.

Disney's Planet Challenge makes it easy for teachers to align class projects with state and national curriculum standards. The DPC website links to every state's requirements, as well as lesson plans for particular grades in particular states.

"The lesson plans are a big help for teachers who might think they don't have enough time to participate with all the things they're required to teach," said Breigh Rainey, whose class won the grand prize for elementary schools.

UL leads hands-on classroom learning

It's OK to read a textbook that discusses someone else's discovery. But it's so much better to work side-by-side with a scientist who helps you make your own. That's the theory behind the partnership between Disney and Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which places its professionals in classrooms all across the country.

One elementary school class and one middle school class will be named national grand prize winners for the 2012 competition that is open to grades 3-8. Many other classes will be recognized for their amazing achievements, too.


Around the time Dr. Terry Grier began overseeing the Houston Independent School District in 2009, roughly half of Houston's graduates were being accepted into college.

Too few graduates were arriving on university campuses in the fall having earned credits through Advanced Placement exams and only 15 percent eventually earned a college degree.

Before switching to CDI six years ago, Scott Willliams bought refurbished computers from an outfit that apparently had little, if any, inspection process.

"I don't think they even opened the box and checked them or cleaned them," said Williams, technical coordinator of the Fisher CUSD #1 school district in Illinois.

He says that's never happen with CDI computers.