BY REBECCAH HAINES

Do you ever sit around and think to yourself, “Gosh, those people in the government sure don’t know what they’re doing! I could do so much better”? Well, Challenge.gov gives you a chance to take a crack at solving some issues, and even winning prizes.

The premise of the site is to get the public involved as a partner with the government to work on current issues like healthier school lunches, disaster preparedness, and helping the environment. There are tons of challenges you can browse, but here are a few of particular interest to educators:

  1. Balloonsat High Altitude Flight Student Competition — This is a challenge for high school students to design a flight experiment or technology demonstration that, if chosen, will be sent to the stratosphere by NASA in a High Altitude Balloon. This competition is almost over, but if students can work quickly, there is still time for a submission.  NASA’s details on the guidelines for the competition can be found here. Submissions due February 11, 2011.
  2. Calendar Cover Contest for womenshealth.gov — This challenge requests submissions of art for the 2012 Women’s Health calendar. High school art students may be an appropriate audience for this challenge. Giving students a real-world reason for doing a project usually motivates them to do a good job, and the prize of having nationally published art may just inspire them. Submissions due February 28, 2011.
  3. It’s My Environment Video Project — This challenge, sponsored by the EPA, requests 10-second videos of people taking action to help the environment where they live. In your video, you must say or put up a sign that says “It’s My Environment,” and the best of the video submissions will be stitched together into more lengthy compilations. This one would definitely be fun for your students to do! Not only would they be submitting a video for the competition, in order to do so, they’d have to be out in the community serving the environment. Submissions due April 15, 2011.

If none of these current competitions strikes your fancy, keep checking the website. More challenges will be posted as various government agencies come up with problems for which they’d like public input.

Challenge.gov

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