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We can change the world - environmental challenge

By Murray Bourne, 07 Jan 2009

Here's something that you or your school could get involved in — and you could learn some useful real-life math in the process.

Siemens and Discovery Channel put together an environmental challenge called We Can Change the World (these are now archived).

From their About page [no longer available]:

As citizens and future stewards of our planet, today’s students are in a unique position to become active agents of environmental change. The good news is that many of them are very interested in learning about and taking responsibility for their environment and their future.

Today’s young people will inherit a world that’s very different from the one their parents inherited. Climate change; polluted air, water and soil; endangered species; shrinking coastlines; and a rapidly increasing population are among the many issues that threaten our global environment.

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is aimed at middle school students, who will "be challenged to create sustainable, reproducible environmental improvements in their local communities."

The math comes into it when the students will need to analyze the sustainability and reproducibility of their suggested improvements. Step 5 of the suggested time line (Analyze It!) says:

Once the plans have been implemented, team members should be able to show what their testing revealed. At this point, they should know whether their solution impacted the problem they identified and how they know.

The site includes resources for teachers, including lesson plans likeWhat’s Your Footprint? where students are challenged to think about how their choices affect their environment and the environment of others. There are also resources for students and parents.

The estimated time for the challenge is 9 to 13 weeks. Applications close in the middle of March 2009.

This is a US-only competition, but there is every reason for schools all over the world to get involved in this. You could use all of the available resources and run the challenge in your own school.

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