Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has teamed up with the Verizon Foundation to celebrate Constitution Day by launching a national contest for middle schools students. The goal of the contest is ultimately to teach youngsters about the importance of our country's most important document and about the important role of civics in modern society.
The contest is called Civic Impact Challenge and makes heavy use of the online project O'Connor spearheaded – iCivics. iCivics teaches children about civics and encourage them to learn about their rights and responsibilities as citizens, along with the inner workings of the U.S. government.
"Students need education and inspiration to understand how they fit into today's democratic process," said O'Connor. "The Civic Impact Challenge and iCivics are much more than classroom lessons – they prepare students to become responsible citizens of a democracy and engaged participants in civil society. We want students to see that they can start getting involved today, whether through student government, volunteerism or other activity."
The Civic Impact Challenge contest is open to fifth-grade to 12th-grade classrooms across the country and ends Nov. 30, 2011. Teachers can enroll their class by visiting www.iCivics.org/Impact-Challenge-2011. The official rules can be found here.
Classes that participate in the contest earn "impact points" by playing the 14 civics games that are part of the iCivics curriculum, all accessible from school or at home. The games cover such topics as civil rights, how a bill becomes a law, and the role of local government. The class that earns the most impact points between Oct. 3 and Nov. 30 will win a VGo telepresence robot.
The VGo robot lets students take virtual field trips to museums and educational institutions and host multicultural learning experiences with classrooms abroad. It also gives home-bound students an opportunity to participate in classroom activities. The winning class will also receive a virtual visit from O'Connor and have the chance to talk with the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The latter prize sounds more exciting to me, but kids love robots..