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The 20/20 Challenge at EARJ

Andrea Buffara, Escola Americana of Rio de Janeiro

J. F. Rischard, the World Bank’s vice-president for Europe and a concerned global citizen wrote an eye-opening book called High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them. Rischard believes our planet is faced right now with 20 inherently global issues that can be grouped into 3 categories: “global commons” or how we share our planet, social and economic issues of global concern or how we share our humanity, and legal and regulatory issues. In his book he describes the different problems and claims that one of the most important challenges we face as a planet is global problem solving

The National Association of Independent School’s response to this call to action was to create Challenge 20/20 an Internet-based program that pairs classes at any grade level (K-12) from schools in the U.S. with their counterpart classes in schools in other countries; together, the teams (of two or three schools) find local solutions to one of 20 global problems. This project has been in existence since 2005. We are lucky this year to be participating as a school.


EARJ’s 7th grade has decided to embrace this challenge. EARJ has paired with St. Francis Episcopal School in Houston, Texas and together we have decided to tackle the issue of poverty. Our 7th grade teachers, headed by Ms. Dawn Card first semester and Ms. Jennifer Megee second semester, have gone as far as integrating the issue of poverty within the curriculum; which actually ties in nicely to our standards and benchmarks in our science and social studies classes. Our project is being run during advisory class. First semester was spent kicking off the project and getting ourselves organizationally set up with St. Francis School. Teachers explained the project in depth and a few Skype meetings took place between schools and research began.

Now, during the second semester the students have been broken- up into smaller groups and each group is tackling a specific issue relating to poverty such as: governance, education, and environment among others; to research in greater depth. The students at St Francis are working in parallel. Both groups are working on a collaborative solution to the problem of poverty. They are using Google Docs to share ideas and come up with one solution per sub group. In addition, at EARJ, we have invited a series of speakers to come talk to kids about different people that have made an impact in ameliorating poverty locally in Rio de Janeiro. We want them to understand that it doesn’t take much to make an impact.   Solutions will be presented to an audience in the near future at EARJ and the best one will be selected to be submitted to the competition. The focus will be a local solution to a global problem. Our ultimate goal is to empower students to believe that they can make a difference in the world.


For more information on the project go to:

Here’s the link to our Prezi:

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