Spreading Youth Voice and Creativity: 2023 Ciena Solutions Challenge Model School Program – Digital Promise

Spreading Youth Voice and Creativity: 2023 Ciena Solutions Challenge Model School Program

Students in classroom looking at computer screen.

August 3, 2023 | By and

In the last two years of the Ciena Solutions Challenge program we have witnessed how student voice and choice sits at the intersection of youth creativity. When students are invested in their own learning, they feel more empowered to express their passions and interests in topics that they care about.

The Ciena Solutions Model School program is an opportunity for cohorts of schools to cultivate student voice, choice, and creativity school-wide. Each school in the cohort receives professional learning from Digital Promise, a suite of technology for creation and invention, and a support system for running Challenge Based Learning. In 2021, we launched the first cohort of Ciena Model Schools in Ottawa, Canada, supporting teams of teachers and students at Notre Dame High School, Ridgemont High School, and St. Patrick’s High School to create student-led projects impacting their local community.

In September 2022, Digital Promise and Ciena expanded the Ciena Solutions Challenge Model School Program to the Atlanta Public Schools District in Atlanta, Georgia. The program tapped educators Alesa Barron from Benjamin Mays High School, Edjohnier Phillips from Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and Ruquanda Epps-Primas and Quandra Adams from The B.E.S.T. Academy 6-12 to guide their students in following their passions and solving challenges that are important to them and their communities.

Student teams tackled a variety of local community issues that were relevant to them—from building a free food finder app to alleviate food insecurity to spreading awareness of mental health of athletes via a podcast, students created potential solutions by engaging, investigating, and taking action on their challenges and leveraging digital tools and technologies.

Addressing Health and Food Insecurities Through Youth Media

Sharing a campus, student teams at The B.E.S.T Academy 6-12 and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy,, tackled the challenges of food insecurity and food deserts in their community. Teams addressed Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, and Goal 10: Reducing Inequalities. Students collaborated on these challenges in separate groups with a collective goal to raise awareness on the issue of food deserts in their communities and create solutions to educate their communities about good health and nutrition. To address their challenges, B.E.S.T Academy students created prototypes of apps and campaign videos to engage and educate community members. Students at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy are planning to use app development and podcasting as a way to build awareness about recipes and local food banks that are accessible to people in their communities.

Explore projects from the students:

Series of four photos displaying student designed graphics related to food deserts on a laptop screen.

Students at The B.E.S.T Academy engaged and investigated the essential question, “How does our neighborhood influence the choices we make about our health?”

Slide with image of vegetable garden on windowsill and text: “We learned a lot from our growth. We plan to engage the community in home gardening through how-to videos and podcasts in order to guide the community through the growing process as best as possible. We chose indoor gardening because a lot of the people in our community live in apartments. We plan to begin production and advertisement once our equipment is completely set up.”

Excerpt from project portfolio created by students at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

Five screens displaying recipe app prototype by students at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, including Recipe Calendar, Ingredient List, and Recipes.

Recipe app prototype by students at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

Raising Awareness on Social Issues Through Media and Campaigns

Students at Benjamin Mays High School addressed issues ranging from mental health awareness, food insecurities, climate change, and increasing opportunities for marginalized groups. Educator Alesa Barronintegrated the Challenge in three out of six of her graphic design and production courses. “I actually incorporated [the Challenge] into my curriculum. And so the positive thing about being a [career, technical, and agricultural education] teacher is, we have the standards that the students have to know and learn in the span of those three years.” Students addressed their challenges by leveraging their learnings from Barron’s course to create a variety of media productions, including podcasts, videos, campaign posters and logo visuals.

Explore projects from the students at Mays High School.

Screenshot of a slide that introduces a video from CBC Marketplace about food waste.

Screenshot of slide that shows the visual marketing for Cease 4 Hunger. The slide has two posters showing how food is transferred from the store to the truck and to the truck out to people. The slogan reads "Good Food for Good People."

A screenshot of a slide showing the co-owner of Cease 4 Hunger in front of a green screen. The slide is title "A Word from Our Co-Owner"

Students at Benjamin Mays High School create a video campaign to spread awareness about their Cease 4 Hunger organization which helps to make community members aware of how they can contribute to alleviating local food insecurities.

Learn More

Learn more about how Challenge Based Learning supports teachers and students to take action on issues they care about in the Ciena Solution Challenge. Watch the stories from the students and teachers in the Ciena Solutions Challenge Model School program in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Learn more about the Ciena Solutions Challenge projects in the Project Gallery on the Ciena Solutions Challenge website, and register for more information and resources to get involved.

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