Competition Summaries 2020-21

Meridian Competitions – The Summaries2020 – 2021 School Year

History

Rivers and Society: An Expo Fair

Primary and Secondary Source Research – Human Inventions – River as Historical Driver – Storytelling and Voice – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

Let’s hawk some river products!!! This Challenge looks at rivers from a historical and economic perspective – trying to get at the essential question: why have humans historically flocked to rivers?  In order to explore these questions, students will focus on a particular human-made innovation or river utilization – i.e., water wheel, canal, logging, canoe – that had the effect of making the river facilitate humanity’s survival and well-being.

[This Challenge is part of an interdisciplinary trio of Challenges that has The River as a core element, to be explored through a Language Arts, Historical and Scientific lens.]

Hip Hop History

Primary and Secondary Source Research – Key Historical Figure: Personal and Societal Explorations –– Storytelling and Language – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

By now, most of you have heard of the success of the Broadway musical Hamilton. What is the hullaballoo all about?  On the one hand, the show – about one of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton – is an energetic, rapturous story, told in hip hop and R&B, that provides insight into American history in a way that has never been done before.  For our purposes, the success also lies in its madly creative use of hip-hop – a form that uses rhyming and word play, combined with rhythm and syncopation – to deliver a thrilling story and thoughtful psychological portrait about a very complicated man: Alexander Hamilton.

In this Competition, you have the chance to do the same: create a hip-hop biographical song about an important person in history. The aim for your portrait is to communicate both the key historical facts about your chosen character, but also to provide insight into the nature of the person: what, based on your research, made your character tick? 

Monopoly Tribute

Primary and Secondary Source Research – Ancient Cultures – Economics, Geography, Laws – Game Design – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

Monopoly. An amazing game of shrewd economics, strategic thinking, conquering and being conquered (fiscally, that is). This Challenge asks you to re-imagine the facets of Monopoly through the lens of an ancient civilization. For example, in Monopoly, there are four lanes of properties, each with increasingly higher real estate values. What are the four levels of real estate in your civilization? How are values established? What is your currency and its “gold standard”? What replaces the value of the four Railroad cards? What does one have to do wrong to be sent ‘to jail’? What is ‘jail’?

The deliverable is an Instructional Video that features a re-designed game board, which needs to clearly communicate two things: the rules of the game – how to play — and knowledge about your chosen ancient culture and its system of economic values.

The Story of a Historical Decision

Primary and Secondary Source Research – Key Historical Figure: Personal and Societal Explorations –– Storytelling – Decision Sciences (Decision-Making Skills) – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

This Challenge asks you to tell us a story about a decision: a decision that changed the course of humanity, in a small or large way.

Identify a historical figure in whom you are interested (or are studying). Then select one key decision that figure made; a decision that had impact and consequences, both personally and societally. And tell us the story of that decision. To help you tell that story, we are employing a decision-making rubric from a team of Decision Scientists that will help with both understanding the science of decision-making, as well as assist with good storytelling!

The Model UN of Climate Justice (STEAM Crossover)

Primary and Secondary Source Research – Deep Focus on a Singular Country (of your choice) – Climate Justice – Expository Writing Skills – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

Climate change is a topic with which we tend to grapple and understand solely as a phenomenon of the physical sciences. But there is a strong movement globally to understand it also as a social science: to understand it in terms of causation, global economics, disproportionate impact, and politics. This is called Climate Justice.

In this Challenge, you and your team will choose a country (from a select list) and create a Model UN-style presentation about climate change and climate justice, as a representative of that country.

[See also: Technology Vs. the Environment: You Choose in the STEAM offerings]

Language Arts

Rivers and Humanity: An Essay in Words in Photos

Nature Writing – Local or Non-Local River Exploration – River and Humanity Relationship – Photographic Storytelling – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

Henry David Thoreau writes of rivers:

“They are the natural highways of all nations, not only levelling the ground and removing obstacles from the path of the traveller, quenching his thirst and bearing him on their bosoms, but conducting him through the most interesting scenery, the most populous portions of the globe, and where the animal and vegetable kingdoms attain their greatest perfection.”

In this Challenge, following in the tradition of great Natural Writers like Thoreau, Aldo Leopold and John McPhee, present a ten-frame photographic story about a river. The photographic story needs to be narrated by your writing – 250 to 400 words – and feature mostly original photos.

[This Challenge is part of an interdisciplinary trio of Challenges that has The River as a core element, to be explored through a Language Arts, Historical and Scientific lens.]

“The Lottery” – Reimagined

Genre Study (Short Stories and Dystopias) – Creative Writing – Literary Analysis – Storyboarding – Video Production and Narrative Construction – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

Since 1948, Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery,” has resonated with students and educators. Why? That is what this challenge asks you to examine. Read and study the story; create a 12-frame visual storyboard of the story, BUT, change a few things – the setting, the order of the scenes, and …add a new scene – without changing the ending. The Lottery Reimagined challenges you to probe the meaning of the original story; visualize it; and enhance it.

Comic Poetry Sketch

Poetic Structure Analysis – Comedy Creation – Video Production and Narrative Construction – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

April in every year is both National Humor Month and National Poetry Month. Soooo, this Meridian Stories Challenge attempts to honor both!  Create a comic sketch that successfully communicates the basic rules that govern three different kinds of poetry.

I Am Who I Am Because… (Digital Self-Portrait)

Personal Essay – Family Heritage Research – Creative Storytelling – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

In this digital storytelling challenge, you will create a digital personal essay – a self-portrait (as an individual or a group) – exploring three key themes: family heritage, personal passions, and defining aspects of your identity (ex. religion, culture, gender, sexuality, etc.). The storytelling format is wide-open and the endgame is to create a personal essay that also functions as a work of digital art.

Paperback Podcast

Literary Lens Explorations – Literature and Character Analysis – Expository and Creative Writing – Character Creation – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

It’s time to create your own show about literature! A podcast show, that is. The podcast’s aim will be to observe a short story or novel through one of the following three critical literary lenses: the Marxist lens, Feminist lens, or New Historicism/Biographical lens. Discuss a character or relationship in the story with contextual evidence and analyze it through your chosen lens.

STEAM

Healthy Rivers: A Call to Action

River Ecosystems: Analysis – Field Work – Problem-Solving – Persuasive Writing – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

This Challenge is designed to give students a foundational structural understanding of river ecology. It begins with the question: ‘what makes a river healthy or unhealthy?’ And the journey to answer that question is a journey through the science of river eco-systems, climate change and the anthropogenic threats to rivers, locally and globally. The final deliverable is a Call To Action video designed for a local or national agency.

[This Challenge is part of an interdisciplinary trio of Challenges that has The River as a core element, to be explored through a Language Arts, Historical and Scientific lens.]

The Game’s Afoot – Documentary

Game Design – Range of Math and Scientific Principles – Creative Problem Solving – Iterative Working – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

Math challenges abound in all of your favorite board games. For example, what are the chances of landing on Boardwalk and Park Place? How many rolls of the dice will it take to get to the billiard room to ask about Colonel Mustard with the wrench? In The Game’s Afoot, your team combines game design elements with one of the following mathematical concepts to create a new, non-electronic, math-based game:

  • Building and interpreting functions
  • Transformations (rotations, reflections, & translations)
  • Vectors
  • Modeling (geometric, graphical, tabular, algebraic, or statistical)
  • Probability

One can also apply relevant science or engineering principles. The resulting deliverable will be a documentary of the development and design process that concludes with your peers playing the actual game.

Technology Vs. The Environment: You Choose (History crossover)

Technology and Society – Climate Change – Decision Sciences – Storytelling – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

This is a Challenge that asks you to think deeply about two of the most dominant forces in our lives today: technology and the environment. At the center of this challenge there is a decision to be made: to lead the world deeper into technology or to lead the world deeper into environmental issues. The ride to get to that decision will take you on a journey into two of the most complex and relevant factors shaping society today.

Kinematics for the Win!

Kinematics Equations – Problem Solving – Storytelling – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

You’ve come across a brilliant pair of soccer shoes. They could be magical or perhaps a feat of engineering – either way, these shoes are the key to becoming a star player on your soccer team. The shoes can apply the correct amount of force to hit a soccer ball with a certain initial velocity. With these shoes, you can plug in a desired initial velocity of the soccer ball and they’ll do the rest! In this imaginative Challenge, you experiment with kinematics equations to score the winning goal!

Speaking of Earthquakes… (Podcast)

Earthquake Sciences – Historical Research – Storytelling – Digital Literacy – 21st Century Skills

Your team is challenged to create the next episode for the The Tip of the Iceberg podcast series. The series talks about natural disasters that you can’t always see until they are right in front of you. The show has done episodes on tsunamis, floods, volcanoes – and now earthquakes! The episode your team is creating will focus on a specific fault line and a past earthquake that occurred as a result of its movement.  Your mission is to tell a scientific story that delivers the content while also focusing on the people and the place.

[See also: The Model UN of Climate Justice in the History offerings]