Want to involve students in real world problem solving activities? Join in the Grand & Everyday Challenges for Education. Questions and problems and other challenges, both "grand" and everyday, will be posed by folks for whom these are real challenges. These will be sent electronically to interested school groups so that they can find ones relevant to their curriculum. They can then interact with the challenge posers and develop solutions. Groups of students and teachers will be able to form "tele-task forces" to work together over the network to solve challenges. Successful solutions will in some cases lead to a reward for the school group.
Goals: To develop students problem solving skills, especially working collaboratively with others, both locally and remotely. To have students learn skills and knowledge within a broader, more motivating context.
Grade levels: This project can involve students of any grade level or ability level. The ways in which students become involved can vary, but all are welcome to participate.
Duration: This project will run throughout the 1992-1993 school year. If you send us a list of what topics you'll be dealing with during which periods of the year, we'll send you those challenges that are related to those topics.
Content Area: All content areas can be involved.
Attached are some examples of how we plan to have this project work. If you're interested in participating in the Grand & Everyday Challenges for Education, send me a message and I'll add you to our electronic mail list and send you further information.
Project coordinator: Jim Levin University of Illinois 210 Education Building, 1310 S. 6th St., Champaign, IL 61820 FrEdMail address: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet address: email@example.com --------- Here are some examples of how the Grand & Everyday Challenges for Education can work (these are hypothetical, but I hope we can work to make them real):
A world class mathematician posts on an unsolved theorem that's important to the progress of his work. A high school math class teacher selects that challenge and poses it to her students, who apply a new piece of visualization software to the problem and develop some promising new approaches which assist the mathematician in developing a new way to thinking about the theorem that allows an innovative solution.
A panel of ecological experts is concerned with the issue of how to increase the rate of recycling plastics. They are particularly concerned about the impact of "juice boxes", since they are a composite of plastic, paper, and aluminum. They post as a challenge how to deal with the problems raised for recycling of "juice boxes". Two elementary school classes chooses to consider this challenge jointly. They interview their fellow classmates about what they like and dislike about juice boxes, they interview their parents about why they buy them, they observe the ways that they and their classmates use and dispose of them. They consider alternatives to juice boxes, and develop an alternate that they write up and submit back to the ecological panel, which considers it, and includes it in their report to Congress, which changes regulations about the manufacture of such containers to encourage the more effective solution suggested by the elementary school class and refined by the panel.
A team of scientists developing state-of-the-art supercomputer-based models of tornados posts a description of a puzzling mismatch between their model and data from a set of recent tornados in Illinois. A middle school science class in Illinois examines aspects of the model though their network connection, accesses additional weather information about those tornados from their online state weather database, and formulates some new hypotheses to explain the anomalies. They communicate electronically with the team of scientists to clarify some aspects of the mismatch, and to get suggestions for ways to test those hypotheses by applying the model to additional tornado data. Then the class submits the surviving hypotheses back to the team of scientists for further investigation.
A local park district is in the process of deciding where to locate a new playground structure. They'd like to conduct a survey to help them decide. They post their challenge, and a local elementary school teacher organizes her class to formulate the questions, collect the data, enter it into a statistical analysis program, and print out the results.
A university professor, as part of her research project, needs to know what middle school students think about advertising on Saturday morning TV. She posts the challenge, then several schools together take up the challenge, conducting the surveys, analyzing them, and sending a report and the data to the professor.
A local agency serving homeless people faces a shortage of child care workers. It posts the challenge. A group of schools contact the homeless shelters in their areas, and compile a list of different ways in which child care is provided. One approach, to work with a local retirement home to involve retired people as child care providers, is proposed as a solution to the challenge. Details of how that solution works in another location are provided, along with some suggestions of modifications that would make the solution more effective in the challenge location.