Students Working Together To Change The World

In an increasingly interconnected world, it is imperative that schools begin to educate students now to be global citizens. Skills that will help students lead and succeed in the 21st century are based on an understanding of global issues. A new program is helping students develop this understanding while giving schools the opportunity to be models in the education of global citizens. Challenge 20/20, sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), is an experiential education program that aims to improve cross-cultural communication and help students become global problem solvers. Based on the book "High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them" by J.F. Rischard, the program pairs public and private schools in the U.S. with schools in other countries. Students at partner schools agree to tackle one of the global challenges mentioned in the book. They research the issue, correspond regularly and together develop local solutions to these global problems. Together, the school teams work throughout the fall semester to come up with a solution to their chosen problem. Their work becomes part of the curriculum at the schools, and team solutions lead to actual plans that are implemented on a local level, on the campuses or in the communities of both schools. At the end of the semester, teams are asked to report on their solution and the process of working together. Three teams (one in each category: PK-5, 5-9, 9-12) whose solutions and teamwork are particularly impressive receive partial funding to send a student-teacher group to the NAIS Annual Conference. Upper-school student representatives in their junior and senior years participate in the Institute for Student Leaders, while younger students may attend the Challenge 20/20 awards. All elementary and secondary schools are invited to participate in Challenge 20/20. They may be public or private schools, located anywhere in the world. At a school, the group of students may be part of a particular academic class. More than one team from a particular school may participate if they wish to tackle multiple problems, provided their partner school agrees to form multiple teams.