The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is part of a five-year partnership involving the Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education and the National Science Teachers Association, along with other organizations. In 2008, its first year, the competition is open to middle-school students. In 2009, it will expand to involve elementary students, and in 2010, high-school students will be included as well. As students get older and move from grade to grade, the scope of the competition gets bigger while staying focused on environmental initiatives. These are the areas that the students will focus on as they progress through the different levels of the challenge:
- Kindergarten to second grade: The classroom
- Third to fifth grade: The school
- Sixth to eight grade: The community
- Ninth to twelfth grade: The world
Students from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., are eligible to enter, and they can attend public, private, parochial or home schools. But students don't enter alone -- to be part of the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, they must form teams of two or three members. They also must have the sponsorship of a teacher or other adult member. This adult will be the person who submits the final entry to the contest.
Once they've formed a team, the students embark on a project that challenges them to follow the adage, "think globally, act locally." Contestants must isolate a problem in their community that relates to the environment, sustainability, conservation or other "green" initiatives. It should be a problem that other communities in the Untied States encounter as well, and the solution should be something other communities can put into place effectively.
Just like a science fair project, the entry should rely on science and the scientific method. Contestants should:
- Identify a problem
- Do some background research on the problem
- Formulate a hypothesis
- Develop a plan for testing the hypothesis
- Put the plan into action and collect all the data
- Draw a conclusion
- Report the results
And since the purpose of the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge doesn't stop with reporting the results, contestants should also put together a plan for repeating the project. People in other locations will be able to use this plan to do the project themselves. In other words, contestants must first complete the project, then explain how others can do it, too.
The teacher or other adult mentor working with each team submits the team's entry online at the We Can Change the World Challenge Web site. Then, it's time for judging. Read on to learn about the judging process and awards for the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge.