Earth Design 65

District 65 Eco-warriors Designing For Their Future

Photo of Gavrielle Welbel
3 8

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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Date Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

We are stepping up to make a change because we want the world to be a better place where people don’t suffer from environmental issues that we have imposed upon ourselves. The consequences of the way that we treat the environment are staggering and scary, but most of us turn a blind eye to it. Everyday we see changes that individuals could make to reduce environmental challenges that we face yet we insist on perpetuating the same irresponsible habits. We see a lack of commitment to environmental sustainability from the general population, further, we see a lack of access to environmental education as a primary reason for this lack of commitment. We want to give other students, regardless of their background, the same opportunity to learn about environmental problems so that they are motivated to be a part of the solution, just like we are.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

We are destroying ecosystems, depleting resources, and creating an environment that is toxic to human health. We cannot continue on this trajectory. There is a lack of commitment to environmental sustainability from Evanston citizens caused by a lack of education. First people must understand that there is a problem before they can take action to solve it. The primary need for improved environmental education in Evanston is middle school.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We will create an environmental learning experience on an online learning platform that will be implemented in Evanston schools starting fall of 2018 called EL3. There are four stages to our learning experience to take students through the design process Empathy: “Story of Stuff” Video Discuss and record all questions that come to mind. Choose one of question and brainstorm possible answers to that question. Feel free to Google or ask a friend! Research a story of an individual or family who is directly impacted by the problem of trash and present it through writing, images, video, or artwork 2. Locate Problem Space Answer these questions What is waste How do we produce waste Why do we produce excess waste Why is waste a problem NASA Interactive Activity: Climate Time Machine 3. Define Problem Show photos/videos of waste issues around the world Upload student’s pictures/videos of waste issues 4. Research NASA Interactive Activity: Recycle This! How to recylce in Evanston What is wrong with recyling 5. Design A Way To Produce Less Waste in Your Life Ideate Get in a group and brainstorm 20 solutions to the problem Categorize your ideas User Test Prototype

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Jordan is a 12 year old boy in 7th grade. When he was in elementary school he used to learn a lot about the environment, but once he reached middle school he lost his connection and curiosity surrounding nature. His new 7th grade science teacher introduced his class to something called EL3, an online learning platform where Jordan could do cool, hands on, and fun projects! After browsing the site and coming across tons of awesome projects like robotics and photography, he chooses one called Earth Design 65. It will guide him through learning about trash on a global and local level, then let him design his own solution with tons of other engaging things on the way. He will get to share this knowledge and the progress he makes with his classmates online as they do the same project. Because of his interest in this activity, in high school, his counselor suggests taking Urban Agriculture.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our solution is accessible to all students because it is facilitated through public schools. It follows the Next Generation Science Standards so teachers will use it for years to come. Our online platform also allows students to go beyond what the teacher requires. We used human-centered design to develop our solution so it is designed to captivate students attention, avoiding the standard model of education in which students are fed information that they then have to regurgitate. Our learning experience is hands-on, inquiry-based, and aimed to instill a drive to take action.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Our project will not begin to be implemented until the fall of next year, but we presented around 100 students with an abbreviated version and tested the full online learning experience with two eighth grade classes. Students’ feedback tells us they enjoyed our activities. We walked through the online learning experience with middle school teachers, environmental educators, and the director of the online learning platform that our project will be posted on. They all gave positive feedback. Once the online platform is launched, we will be able to monitor the number of students utilizing our project and the work that they submit. The number of students that do activities not required by their teacher will be an indicator of impact. Feedback from teachers will also be crucial.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We still have a lot to do over the next few months: Finishing creating the four stages of the learning experience and put them on to the platform, Finish creating program badges (awards students earn), User test with students/teachers/parents in each Evanston middle school, Create more possible design challenges for interested students to continue out of class, Add resources to the platform so students can learn more and take action in other ways, Create an Earth Design 65 website and email account, Reach out to current juniors in high school and community members to continue this project, Outline what this all will look like when we hand it over to the users and what problems might arise, Expand to other school districts.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

The main thing we are looking for as of right now is a dedicated group that will carry this on after we part ways and leave for college. We will of course still want to be involved as much as we can, but we know that we won’t be able to grow and expand as we would like without others to help us. One idea we liked was bringing in rising senior students from our own high school and community to be next years' leaders; the year after that they will find new members to be the leaders and so on. We will definitely need a website. The EL3 platform has their own website which will include our project and will launch in the fall but we need a project website if we want to expand this to other online platforms or other schools around the country.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

One of the great things about our project is the ability and chance of partner with other changemakers and organizations around the country. We want this to be something youth lead because it is in fact a project working on and with youths, we don’t want this to turn into one of the many things out there run by adults with that one “youth representative” who never gets their turn to talk. The only way this project will work is by getting teens like us on board. The connection between passionate people is powerful and can fuel some of the most amazing ideas and work. Creating with a group lets you think of things you wouldn’t and couldn’t have thought of otherwise. We know there are other changemakers out there that love and care about the environment just as much as we do, and we are looking for those people to help us and partner with us so that we can expand our efforts around the country. We want our online learning experience to a be a model for environmental education units taught in schools all around. However, the experience must be tailored to the specific student users. Ours is Evanston-based. We need young adults to adopt our platform and fit it to their community.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • LGBTQ community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Gaby Ecanow

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 16.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 16.7%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 16.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 16.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 16.7%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 66.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 16.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 16.7%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

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Attachments (2)


The documentation of the six months of work we have done on this project so far (as of 5/28/18)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ariyan Miller

Hey There Fellow Changemaker,

Congrats on moving to the next phase. I wishing you the best of luck ! & I am sending love and light to all the positive things that you do.

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