Challenges - National Competitions that Incorporate Core Standards & 21Cent Skills challenges.jpg

It is amazing the number of national programs that involve competition and projects that can fit into the school curriculum while promoting NET-S standards, project based learning, and 21st century skills. You can either participate in the programs, or you can use the materials to build your curriculum. Either way, you are providing students with engaging learning activities that put them at the center of their learning. In this page you will find these programs available to educators and their students. The page contains links to websites with a brief description. If you want to learn more, just click! Below these links you will find popular postings from by Blog at 21stCenturyEdTech that describe other findings. I always post my findings on twitter and you can follow me at @mjgormans, I will follow back so we can learn from each other!

Reasons to participate in national programs

Many include national and state standards
Engaging resources (even if you don’t compete)
NETS, PBL, and 21st Century skills included
Free with reward opportunities
Cross-curricular opportunities
Real world experience

Links to Programs: Includes quick description. Competition dates are posted, but resources can be used anytime! There is no special order in the postings since many are multi curricular involving integration.

Siemen's Science We Can Change The World Challenge - The only national sustainable challenge that empowers students in every gradelevel (K-12) to develop and share environmental solutions that just might change the world. (Usually begins in Aug/Sept)

Kids Science Challenge - Presented by award winning science radio program "Pulse Of The Planet". Awesome topics, great Science Fair Web Page, Engaging Videos, and archived lesson plans. (Usually begins end of Sept beginning of Oct)

We The People - Sponsored by the Center For Civic education. Awesome program that provides resources and studies involving the US Constitution. Student don't just read about government, they live it. Materials for elementary and secondary. There is information provided also on this website. (Check the site for competition dates since it does very by grade level and state)

Project Citizen - Another great activity provided by the Center For Civic Education. All the components to provide a great opportunity to begin a project based learning activity based on curricular standards and needs of community and students. (Check the site for competition dates since it does very by grade level and state)

National Engineers' Week Future City - An outstanding program that combines computer simulation game (SIM City) for social studies and science skills, an essay and presentation for language arts and computer skills, and model building that promotes math and artistic talent! It is a program that puts the A in STEM making it STEAM! Check out postings on this website for more info. (Usually begins in Aug/Sept with completion in early January at the regional level, national competition in Washington DC in mid February)

Poetry Power - A site that encourages students to write poetry and essays with the award of being published and earn a small sum of money. Also has an Online Rhyming Dictionary and a data base of over 1000 lesson plans! (Check site for different dates depending on season for both poetry and essay competition) * Usually submission dates are: poetry Apr, Aug, and Sep essays July, Oct, Feb

[[@http://C-SPAN's StudentCam is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect our communities and our nation. Students are asked to create a short (5-8 minute) video documentary that responds to one of the topics listed below|C-SPAN Student Cam]] - An awesome competition involving the production of a 5-8 minute documentary video produced by either middle school or high school students. Winners are aired on C-SPAN and share $50,000 in winnings! In 2010 there were 75 winners of the 1003 entries. This link provides great teaching information along with integration of core standards.There are resources provided including access to C-SPAN Video Library. Another great PBL idea allowing students to work alone or in groups of 2-3. (Usually this competition begins in Aug/Sept with submissions in mid January, winners are usually aired on C-SPAN in April)

ACTFL Podcast Contest - This inclusion involves the foreign languages and video production. Students are given a theme such as "Discover Languages...Discover The World". Students usually dreate a public service announcement encouraging the study of a foreign language. Important national standards include the 5C's (communication, connections, comparisons, cultures, and communities). It covers all grade levels including post K12. (Usually competition begins at start of Oct and submission is mid Dec, check site)

The Scholastic Art And Writing Awards - A site also sponsored by the Alliance For Young Artists and Authors provides an avenue for students to enter competition and have writing and art work reviewed. There is even aGallery that can be filtered by write and art. Be sure to view the various programs and events available. (Check thisdata base for continuing awards, guidelines for each year's program are usually available at the start of October

World Math, Science, Science, Spelling Day - Three separate days with competition on a global scale. It includes over 235 countries, over 1,000,000 students, and close to 60,000 students! It doesn't matter who you are or where you are, all are invited to compete and set a new world record! (Usually takes place on the first three Wed of March with Math, Science, Spelling in order) * 2011 date are Math - March 2,Science - March 9, and Spelling - March 16

GeoBee Challenge - Sponsored by National Geographic and Google Earth! Students get a daily opportunity to test their geography smarts. Ten new questions are posted every day! Also, check out the National Geography Bee Competition ! (There is a new GeoBee posted every day along with the last two days. That is three quizes possible everyday. The national competition begins at start of Nov and winds up locally in mid Jan , followed by state and national competition)

The Young Scientist Challenge - If your grade 5 - 8 students are excited about science and have the skills and know-how to explain and demonstrate science at work in every day life (making a video) then this is the right program for your classroom. Great teacher tools, science extras, and an awesome challenging question/topic each year. (Usually begins begins of Dec and ends final days in May)

National Competition Blog Posing From 21centuryedtech

Ready, Set, Reinvent Your Curriculum: Transform Learning With National Competition And Projects – Part 1

Picture : Creative Common – Antonio Paramo

This is part 1 of a 2 part posting involving creating the awareness of how national programs and competitions can be used to transform existing curricula and bring disciplines together. Whether you participate in the actual competitions or not, all provide a wealth of activities and resources to promote 21st century learning. I have divided this posting into two parts so that you can discover some amazing sites without becoming overwhelmed. I will also be creating areas that go into depth about these sites at my 21centuryedtech Wiki. Please feel free to visit. In the meantime Ready, Set, Reinvent!
- Mike
I have long been an advocate of using established resources that can promote student engagement. As you scan this posting it is my intent to make you aware of at least one new resource that can help facilitate your efforts in the 21st century classroom. First, my quick philosophical statement and then the nuts and bolts. If you are not into philosophy then go ahead and skip to the next paragraph for some really good resources. Twenty-first Century Learning involves both an integration with technology and a transformation in instruction. The teaching must allow students to develop those important 21st Century Skills. One avenue for accomplishing this is by facilitating students through projects that are rigorous, relevant, and demand positive involvement in a team. This is not a new concept; athletics have long promoted this idea. I know I learned many of my 21st century skills in the field of athletics. I suggest that teachers use competition and team projects to allow students to be challenged and work together to promote such attributes. There is an immense number of projects available to teachers through efforts of national organizations and partners. Some are well known and already fill rosters of extra curricular activities including Lego League and Next activities. I propose integrating many of these programs into the curriculum already in place. As you investigate it will become evident that many of these national programs have already provided an alignment with standards. Even more importantly, many of these activities allow for the integration of disciplines and all promote 21st century skills. Now for the nuts and bolts of this posting. Get ready for some great ideas that promote 21st century learning based on technology, project based learning, STEM initiatives, and NETS standards. Remember, you do not have to be in the competition to benefit from its resources. In fact, sometimes I have tried using different programs for a year or two before entering. Always keep in mind that learning is the process!
Future City - What an awesome competition/project. It resides at and is presented by the National Engineering Week Organization located in Alexandria Virginia. You can’t ask for better engagement! This program assists students in social studies and science awareness by engaging them with the simulation, SIMCITY 4000 Deluxe. After building a computer city, they practice their creativity and math skills as they build a scaled portion of their SIMCITY using recycled materials. Finally, they hone their language arts skills by writing about a problem and presenting their final project to a team of peers and experts. View the promotional video and you will become aware of the excitement this program can bring to the curriculum. This year’s competition involves the exploration of green building and living practices. I have provided a list of resources at my[[@file:
/C:/Users/mgorman/AppData/Local/Temp/ City.html| 21centuryed Wiki]]. You will find videos, worksheets, GIS ideas, and a listing of integrated cross curricular standards I put together for my district that align with the State of Indiana standards. Also explore the Future City Web Site for video tutorials, national standards, 2009-10 Manual, some great outside links, and the projects brochure. One site I am especially impressed with is Discover Engineering, a great STEM site that includes awesome videos, activities, and ideas. Future City Competitions are on a regional basis with the National in Washington D.C. I have heard the National is great and hope to see it some day in person!
We The People - More science is coming later in the part 2 post, but social studies and language arts can get a big boost from the Center For Civic Education’s activity entitled We The People.
The We The People program has involved nearly 30 million students since 1987. Studies by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and Stanford University reveal that students who are engaged in this curriculum outperform comparison students on every topic studied. The We The People Web Site has a Twenty-first Century interface that provides a great deal of multimedia and a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach that allows for the differentiation of instruction. Collaborative groups of students engage in research, essay writing, and presentations that result in a public hearing. Before this hearing, however, there is a great amount of student collaboration and community interaction. The final assessment is authentic and the end result goes beyond a study of civics education. Standards emphasized come from social studies, language arts, technology, and 21st Century skills. The We The People Website has a number of podcasts that can be subscribed to which can be used to differentiate instruction. Browse through research that demonstrates the effectiveness of the program. Another great program from the Center For Civic Education is Project Citizen. This is a curricular program for students that promotes competent and responsible participation in order to monitor and influence public policy in local and state government. Students develop support for democratic values and principles, tolerance, and feelings of political efficacy. If you do not participate in these programs be sure to check them out for future possibilities, or just for the great resources. The Center For Civic Education itself is an award winning site that provides other great programs including 60 Second Civics with daily podcast, activities, and quizzes and the Constitution Day Website.
I am sure that by exploring you have found resources you can either use or share with others. If possible, find ways to make these types of projects a process within your present curriculum. Please join me at my 21st Centuryedtech Wiki and feel free to send me your ideas for existing programs that we can all use to engage students in the 21st century! Please share this site with others and I hope you check out the next posting (Part 2) which will include several more awesome sites that I guarantee will give you even more ideas, so that you can get ready, set, reinvent!

Part 2: Ready, Set, Reinvent Your Curriculum: Transform Learning With National Competitions And Projects

This is the second part of a two part blog (Part 1 is below this posting) aimed at helping educators see the value in having students become involved in national programs as part of the school curriculum. Even if you are not ready for direct involvement, you will still find that these programs offer rich resources that promote transformation that call out - Ready, Set, Reinvent! Take a moment to also visit the 21centuryedtech Blog to find a full collection of Blog Postings!
We Can Change The World Challenge
Is it possible for a group of students to influence the Environmental Protection Agency to change its mind? It happened on August 26, 2009 with the EPA announcement that it will begin the process of writing rules to ban lead wheel weights. This action involved students that took part in an initiative sponsored by the Siemens Corporation along with the National Science Teachers Association and Discovery Education. This program entitled We Can Change The World Challenge engages students at all grade levels by inviting them to be creative in solving environmental problems in their own backyard. View this wonderful video on the front page of the site. Explore how students and teachers get involved in a competition facilitating 21stcentury standards along with great rewards and prizes. Most impressive is the outstanding resources available for free through partners NSTA and Discovery. Examine the resource page that directs teachers and students to virtual labs, lessons aligned with national standards, quizzes, and videos from Discovery Education. At the elementary level there are even e-books. There is also a great outline for the Challenge Process which includes Choose It, Research It, Plan It, Do It, Analyze It, and Share It. Take a moment to register and then view the many challenges students have taken on as part of this outstanding program. Perhaps it is time for you to get involved!
Kids Science Challenge
The Today Show has highlighted the Kids Science Challenge and the accomplishments of one its student winners. The Kids Science Challenge is a 21st century program that will engage and direct students to the highest levels of learning? Take a moment to watch the entertaining video on the front page of Pulse of the Planet’s – Kids Science Challenge. The video alone will give you and your students the energy to “Want To Know”. October 1, 2009 begins year two of this amazing program and competition. Once again, you don’t have to compete in order to benefit from the resources available on this site, but I am sure sooner or later you or your students will want to give an entry a try! In this program kids view the latest videos, take part in fun down-loadable activities, and ask questions directly to scientists and engineers. The final goal is to come up with a great idea involving one of the three new Science Fields introduced this year. Watch all three videos by clicking the links on the front page including Sports on Mars, Detective Science, and Bio Inspired design. After watching these videos take a closer look at Sports on Mars, Detective Science, and Bio Inspired Design, this years exciting topics for exploration. You will find great links, super activities, games, and ways for your students to get involved. Want to investigate Science Fair ideas, or just great science activities? Check out a page filled with ideas such as Science Under Pressure, Play Ball on Earth or Mars, Send A Top Secret Message, Take the Blindfold Challenge, and Jumping Roaches, just to name a few. These exciting and motivating activities include collaborative group activities, games, videos, and lessons. Dig a little deeper and you will find a gold mine of over 100 lesson plans for **grades K-12 students** supplied by radio show, //Pulse of The Planet//. These lesson plans use
Pulse of the Planet programs and sounds as a focus for learning activities on a variety of subjects. The lesson plans are aligned to national science education standards for grades K – 12. All lesson plans, along with down-loadable audio files, are free for educational use to registered teachers. The resources from last years competition are also still available for you to integrate into your curriculum. Enhance your curriculum as students learn about the science of Skate Boards, Flavor, and Water using activities that engage, videos that entertain and inform, and games that reinforce standards. This program emphasizes that desire to “Want To Know”.
I hope you have enjoyed this two part post and have found ways to incorporate existing resources and programs to facilitate 21st century learning in the classroom. Please email or post resources you are aware of and can share with others. Feel free to visit the 21centuryedtech Blog for even more postings relating to cutting edge 21century education. Now take some time and be sure to Ready, Set, Reinvent!
- Mike