Innovative leadership in math and science

February 23rd update: 

Here is the pitch video the seventh graders were invited to submit as finalists in the national challenge issued by Los Angeles' Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership. 

Several hundred students from across the US submitted proposals to the challenge, and only the top 20% advanced to the final round. Only 6% of the submissions came from middle school students like the Gordon group; the rest were high schoolers.

More on the challenge, and the Gordon lesson that inspired these students, below...


above: one of the seventh graders who created the successful proposal, with her two collaborators Zooming in for the photo.

Three seventh graders were selected as finalists in a national challenge issued by Los Angeles' Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership. The BCIL asked for solutions to the multiple challenges involved in COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the US. The challenge demands that students use math and science data in thoughtful, imaginative ways.

The seventh graders proposed a ten-tiered schedule that takes into account the fact that people who have had COVID-19 recently are likely to have some natural immunity to infection. 

The proposal grew out of a workshop held during Gordon's most recent Beloved Community Day, a day when students focus on justice, equity, and the work necessary to fulfill Dr. King's vision for a beloved community.

In the workshop, Gordon's seventh and eighth grade math teachers asked students to draw inferences from a variety of statistics and geographic analyses of patterns in COVID infection, race, and population density. The issues raised by BCIL Impact Challenge were part of the workshop, and, in the words of one of their teachers, "these students took this ball and ran with it!"

Gordon has been holding classes on campus all year, in every grade, with Gordon@Home online instruction offered to students whose health concerns kept them from coming to campus. The team of seventh graders behind the successful proposal include two students attending school on campus, and one Gordon@Home student.

For the next round of the this challenge, the Gordon students will create a one-minute pitch video for their idea. Students with exceptional proposals will have the opportunity to meet and share their ideas with former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Bob McDonald, who served under President Obama and was recently appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to serve on his transition team advisory board.

The Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership Impact Challenge program seeks out middle and high school students who have practical solutions to real world challenges posed by professionals from a wide range of fields. Select students enjoy a range of BCIL support including funding, coaching, and collaboration with peers and experts from across the country.

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