Cheryl Joloza’s fifth-grade science class is entering the National Geographic 2018-19 GeoChallenge. This year’s theme is “Tackling Plastic!.” Teams of students are creating maps, developing models, and producing videos as part of their investigation into the issue of plastic in our world’s waterways. The students will submit their ideas to National Geographic by Jan. 15; the organization will then invite select teams to participate in a regional competition on March 29.
“I selected this project for my students because it is a real world application of our science class content,” said Joloza. “Through inquiry based teaching and learning, the boys will take a design thinking approach to come up with a solution to plastic pollution.”
According to the National Geographic website, the GeoChallenge focuses on science and geography to respond to critical issue facing our planet using research, collaboration, and creativity. The theme changes annually, and is designed to foster 21st century skills like problem solving, teamwork and ingenuity, as well as an understanding of the scientific process and methods. The GeoChallenge formula dovetails with the Lower School's design thinking framework, in which students observe, ask questions, gain an understanding of a problem or situation, navigate ideas, create a prototype, refine their prototype, and launch their prototype.
“I hope that plastic pollution will end,” said fifth-grader Charlie. “I hope we can make a substitute for plastic, and start a plastic collecting group to help get things out of the ocean that are killing sea animals.”