Eric Nielsen, Mt. Everest Academy

When my co teacher and I found out that we had been selected to participate in the Changemakers Challenge we were very excited! I was aware of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and have been teaching Social Justice for all of my 25 years, so I saw this as an opportunity to provide a meaningful learning experience for my students. The students were super excited to work under the auspices of these goals. The design thinking aspect of this project led to an in depth and holistic study of real world issues. My students were not daunted by the huge challenges the world has. No, they were excited to tackle the issues and make a statement about their power and agency to affect change.

Students were able to choose which of the goals aligned with their interests and were super involved. The teams did excellent professional work, remotely. This is the kind of project that makes kids interested to come to school. Being so different and relevant, the kids bought in right away and did complex research and problem solving. This project turned into a Google Genius hour as the kids focused on what interested them and real world problems. Many elements of this project gave students hope and inspired them to feel like they have power to make change.

The granular work of the program was very defined and easy for the kids to engage with as it was structured similarly to a college class. At Mt. Everest Academy, we pride ourselves on preparing students for the rigors and demands of college. This project fit right into that mold and I am so thankful my students were able to engage with these critical social justice issues. Young people are naturally inclined to support what is socially just and this program fostered their ability to affect real change in the world.

Daina Weber, Kearny School of Biomedical Science and Technology

It has been a great learning opportunity for both my students and myself. Thank you for your support in helping to provide our forever changemakers access to meaningful learning experiences. Although I know the Covid crisis challenged our ability to end the project as strongly as we started it, I also know that my students never stopped flexing their critical thinking muscles while engaged in this work. Their perspectives were broadened, their passions were ignited, and they showed great resiliency through it all. 

Working on the Changemaker Challenge has impacted our learning community greatly. Students’ perspectives on global issues were broadened and their passions for brainstorming solutions were ignited. Even after our school campus closed, students continued to flex their critical thinking muscles while seeing the Changemaker Challenge through. As an educator, I learned so much about the design thinking protocol through Pactful. We are very grateful to USD’s Jacobs Institute for this experience.

Valerie Crawford-Meyer, Ed.S., Glades Middle School

First, let me say that many of my students did not fully understand their role until they started interviewing, especially my girls. Having the pandemic affect us at the time it did was a great dissatisfaction to my students. The girls had interviewed a few successful women of color who helped them to better understand the impact of what they were doing and the importance of their pitch. Unfortunately, COVID-19 changed that for many of them. Their focus became working on core content for their grades.

Many of my 8th-grade students will take this experience with them into high school indicating that this was a real opportunity for them to work hands-on building a project that they could share with their peers and community.

I am looking forward to next year, though we don’t know what that will look like. 

Dr. Kris Rodenberg, Mt. Everest Academy

The Changemaker Challenge, to be a bit cliche, was a game-changer in my class. We started our projects with a discussion about what students felt were important global issues that needed to be addressed today. They were spot on in outlining the UN Goals. This led to a high level of buy in from them. They formed teams to research and work on goals that they truly felt passionate about! Pactful was amazing and easy for us teachers to use. It takes design thinking and outlines key questions for each step in the process, from brainstorming to pitching their solutions. The best part was that moving to distance learning half-way through the semester seemed to make no difference on the students’ abilities to work collaboratively online and finish their projects. We are already talking about how we will use Pactful again next year, but in the meantime, we’re proud of the work our students did. They showed us that they are the generation that will own global issues and resolve them creatively!

Maria Kruzdlo, Frances S. Demasi Middle School

The tools and resources provided in this pilot were helpful and engaged the students to think about solutions, problems, and ideas in a new way. These are definitely skills that will travel with them. 

Reuben Hoffman, San Diego Unified School District

The opportunity to participate in the Changemaker Challenge with students and schools from around the world was an amazing opportunity for students in the San Diego Unified School District. The Pactful app and curriculum provided an easy entry point for the teachers and students new to design thinking. While school closures impacted participation for some of SDUSD schools that registered for the Changemaker Challenge, for others the opportunity to develop social good solutions provided an engaging and meaningful experience during distance learning. In the end, continuing the project helped students understand that learning never stops and they can impact their communities even in the midst of a global pandemic.

The teachers that I collaborated with this year at Mount Everest Academy and Kearny High Biomedical Sciences and Technology expressed to me how much they appreciated the support from the Pactful team and curriculum designed to take students from understanding to pitching their solution.

I want to thank the Pacful team for their regular and excellent communication, friendliness, openness to feedback, and collaborative spirit. I look forward to continuing and building on our partnership in promoting design thinking and the use of Pactful.

Stephen Cerruti, e3 Civic High School

e3 Civic High uses a four year Design Thinking program to accomplish our mission and vision to engage, educate, and empower our learning community to be passionate, life-long learners and civic leaders that are prepared for college, workforce, and life. For the 2019-2020 academic year we chose to use Pactful to implement curriculum in 9th and 10th grade. Pactful brought us thoughtful, well designed activities that were supported by rich content and it made the entire design thinking process more relevant and engaging by focusing them on a pressing community issue and through competition in the Jacobs Institute Changemaker Challenge. When our in-person classes shifted online on March 16th Pactful was instrumental in allowing us to see the projects to a conclusion by shifting our efforts from creating physical prototypes to allowing our teams to collaborate remotely on creating pitches for their inventions.

One of our goals for the 2019-2020 school year was to start projects that might continue past the end of the school year. This year we have several projects that will continue to be developed and Pactful was essential in helping us achieve this goal.

Two of our student groups were recognized with shout outs at D4SD (D4SD.org) with the projects they had completed via Pactful. Pactful made it very easy to lead my team through our Design Thinking classes by providing engaging activities that encouraged our scholars to research and process information in new ways.

Jenny Miles, Emerson Middle School

Pactful and their challenge exposed my students to how they can help the world. My students are middle school aged and did not think they could influence or help the world because of their age. Using the UN Sustainable goals the students decided what they wanted to work on and then formed teams based on their interest. They did the research, created google forms and sent them to professionals in the field they were interested. They had just started on creating a prototype when the pandemic closed our school. Since it was so chaotic the students voted to not proceed as they could not get together to work on it. 

Pieter Verduijn, International School of Aruba

We have worked with Pactful for the last school year. We started a new subject this year with all the colleagues from our Middle and High School. We created groups with students from multiple grades. They were supposed to develop something new that had a direct relationship with the Sustainable Development Goals. The real goal was to teach the children (and the teachers) the method of Design Thinking: They would become problem solvers.

It was very hard in the beginning. We had a few groups piloting with Pactful, but most of the groups were using old fashioned paper models for their idea. Some of the papers got lost and frustration kicked in by teachers and students. The groups weren’t that successful.

In the second semester we decided that all groups had to use Pactful. I showed the teachers what to do and all of a sudden the students had a way better idea on how to gather their investigations and what their next steps should be. I love that pactful doesn’t have a specific order of steps to do. The steps can be taken in any order which gives the students way more options to do their project. At the same time provides Pactful order in the chaos by giving the students a platform where they can store their documents, drawings, ideas and other stuff. For us at school the Covid19 crisis made that we couldn’t finish the project. Our online program after that didn’t have time for it. Which is a pity, because some of the projects were really promising: One of the groups wanted to develop a method to create the ideal mud so that mangrove seedlings would grow faster and we could replant those to keep our mangrove forests here on Aruba growing. I will use Pactful next year again if it is available to me.

David Conover, Connally High School

The Jacobs Institute Changemaker Challenge provides an efficient and practical framework for myself, as a teacher as well for my students that learning while solving real-world problems. Over the past year, this framework builds collaboration between students, teachers, families, and community members to identify global goals, ask thoughtful questions, and ideate, prototype, and pitch solutions that help solve global problems. This design thinking approach helped my students gain in-depth subject area knowledge and develop the skills necessary to thrive in a distance-learning world.

Jaime Green, e3 Civic High School

The Pactful site provided structure and consistency across different DT classes. It was easy to use and engaging for scholars. The DT phases were a little different from what e3 uses, but close enough to be workable. The contests and prizes added interest and excitement to the process.