These curated collections of student work highlight what is possible when students and teachers are engaged in work that is challenging, adventurous, and meaningful. We feature these projects in the hopes they will inspire discussion, provoke thinking, and model powerful ideas in action. These exhibits offer context and frameworks, rich storytelling, videos, and resources to improve teaching and learning.
Student Work That Contributes To A Better World
Our inaugural exhibition made possible by The Estée Lauder Companies features a carefully curated collection of student work explicitly focused on citizenship, community building and making a difference. Each project featured in this exhibit has changed the world for the better and it is our hope is that this collection will serve as a true source of empowerment for teachers and inspiration for students.
A tour has interactive tags placed on a significant image from the project. Hovering over a tag allows you to enter a particular point of interest and learn more about the project. Please begin with the red tag for a summary of the ways in which the student work contributed to a better world. Additional tags will illuminate key aspects of the project (fieldwork, products, interviews, expert contributions) and allow you to explore through text, music, video, and additional images.
- Tidepool Treasures
- Erie Canal Project: Revitalize Rochester
- Hooked On Books
- The Colorado Coralition
- Small Acts of Courage
- Perspectives of San Diego Bay: A Field Guide
- A to Z Book of Homelessness
- The Other Side: Groove
- Wheelchair Hand Drive
Kindergarten and first-grade students from High Tech High Elementary North County in San Diego, CA learned about the natural phenomena of tides and the tidepool habitat and then worked to educate others and advocate for sea creatures. Students created a beautiful interactive kit of tools and games, illustrated books, and led a public exhibition of their work.
Sixth-grade students from Genesee Community Charter School in Rochester, NY researched and wrote a professional quality report/position paper to argue for restoring water to the dry Erie Canal waterway and building a surrounding commercial district. The report presents information that students researched and collected about other cities around the United States who have engaged in successful waterway-revitalization projects. Students presented this report to the local community including the mayor, city council, and other decision makers who were persuaded to dedicate significant funds to carrying out the vision of these middle school students.
Seventh-grade students from Polaris Charter Academy studied the U.S. Constitution and the second amendment. They also collected data on gun violence in their own neighborhood, West Humboldt Park in Chicago. The statistics, showing high numbers of fatalities near the school, and their own personal experiences with violence compelled them to take action. They decided to complete two projects: a citywide “Day of Peace” event and writing a book to honor the stories of local citizens working for peace.
Seventh and eighth-grade students from Santa Fe School For The Arts And Sciences in Santa Fe, New Mexico set out to answer the questions, Can one person change the world? and Can one person make a difference? The students recognized their power as citizens after learning about courageous activists and their strategies and “were never daunted by the fact that they were teenagers.” One of the results of their learning was a student-led community-wide literacy campaign.
Inspired by their teacher's own transformative experience of learning to scuba dive and volunteering with a coral restoration group, students from Polaris Expeditionary Learning School in Fort Collins, Colorado engaged in a project with multiple components: in-depth study of environmental issues surrounding the decline of healthy coral reefs, scuba certification for students, a trip to serve in the coral restoration efforts on a reef in the Florida Keys, and spreading the message about their learning and experiences through presentations, music, and video. Explore this project here! Materials include two documentaries, student reflections, and descriptions of key components with teacher commentary
Seventh-grade students from King Middle School in Portland, Maine created a set of four books of interviews with unsung local civil rights heroes as part of a learning expedition on civil rights. The project involved eighty-two students from diverse backgrounds. The books were shared in an exhibition and presentation at the school, with period music and displays, attended by the heroes and their families, school members and local press. All eighty-two students formally presented their work on stage before presenting the books to the heroes.
Ninth-grade students at The Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, MA wrote the Greenprint report as part of a learning expedition called Powering the 21st Century. The report summarizes student findings from energy audits at schools around the city and recommends a variety of initiatives that the city of Springfield should take in order to lower its carbon footprint and reduce energy costs. The final report was presented to city officials.
Students at High Tech High in San Diego, CA engaged in deep research about the San Diego Bay, research went beyond listing and classifying species; they were involved in multiple research projects, including census collection of macro-invertebrates as indicators of the health of the water in the bay and boat channels. Students created a professional-quality field guide that met a genuine market need, as there was no existing field guide to the bay. With a forward written by Jane Goodall, this book set a new standard in the genre of student products known as field guides.
Third and fourth-grade students from the Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. took part in a Learning Expedition about homelessness in part because students walked by homeless individuals on their way to school, and it made them feel sad and powerless; they wanted to do something to help. Students did extensive fieldwork and research to develop empathy for, connect with, and positively impact homeless people in their community. Explore anecdotes, artifacts, and products in tags guided by lead teacher, Lisa Morenoff.
When faced with the statistic that every 26 seconds in America a student drops out of school, High School for the Recording Arts (HSRA) students in St. Paul, MN reacted with shock and disbelief—then they took action. Investigating this statistic through in-depth research, students became passionate about building a campaign to combat student dropout rates. Their work—called BMOR26— was thought-led by HRSA students and sponsored by State Farm. It included: engaging social media; working on a logo; garnering pledges from students; an entire album around dropout prevention; and videos to explain the power and importance of school.
As part of the studio, “Hacking Wheelchairs for Urbanity” NuVu students in Cambridge, MA were tasked with improving the wheelchair by accessorizing it as opposed to redesigning the chair itself. Students created an affordable, easy to use product with a free, open source design. As the studio came to an end, the team was invited to show their invention to the White House Science Fair where President Obama came to their station, tested the device, and was impressed by the concept.