Serving others

Create a school-wide annual project that helps solve local problems and encourages participating from people in the community.

Photo of Elizabeth Brooking
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We need to engage students in active projects to help solve problems in their local community. Students need to do meaningful work. Students should help choose the project each year, and parents and teachers would help implement this. 

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Photo of Mark Carlucci

I think getting involved with the community is a great idea. I have noticed that that students in my school are inspired by working on projects that help support those in need. They will throw themselves into a fundraiser and spend countless hours raising money for the child our school sponsors.
In the spring, I was approached by a community group that supports people with intellectual disabilities. Many of their clients have difficulty with fine motor skills, so pushing buttons to turn things on is difficult for them. Their current solution is a wireless power switch that has an oversized button. This is limited to working with devices that can turn on and off only. The worst part is it costs $500 per setup.
I accepted the challenge to find a better solution on behalf of my computer engineering class. I told many of my students we would be doing this in the fall and they we very excited. Some of them have been researching ideas over the summer.
I think working within and with the community, especially on projects that are open ended, will inspire students to be more innovative. They can become much more engaged because it will have an impact outside their classroom. There is no one correct answer, so they don't have to fear being wrong.