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“Recycling Rebels” Advance to Virtual National Competition
“I can’t make a difference, I’m just a kid.” Elementary students can often feel they aren’t able to address problems in the larger community. Fifth graders at Allisonville Elementary in the Future Problem Solvers Club embarked on a process this year to learn otherwise. “Kids have a perspective that adults don’t see, and this club helped my students learn they don’t have to be an adult to solve problems,” said Emily Hodson, fifth grade teacher.
Hodson started the club this school year as a pilot in her classroom, and it was quickly embraced by her students who are 10 and 11 years old. Back in October, the kids grouped into four teams and worked through a six-step problem solving model to take on important community topics like recycling, addressing the vaping crisis, gun violence, and local crime issues.
Final reports were due in mid-March right as in-person school shut down, but the teams were determined to submit their projects. Reports and digital scrapbooks were submitted for the state contest, with the “Neighborhood Knights” team placing third in the state and the “Recycling Rebels” team winning runner-up honors in the state and advancing to Nationals. The recycling team now completes additional elements, including producing a public service announcement, before they participate virtually in the national finals in June being hosted by the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. While the students are understandably sad not to be able to travel to the National finals, they are building skills and illustrating important characteristics of the IB program. “My future problem solvers are using a vast set of skills in order to communicate, research, and develop solutions to problems within their community. This club shows students how they can be valuable and productive citizens, even as children,” Hodson concluded.