Five 7th graders from Euclid Middle School held the attention of the Littleton City Council during their Jan 21st meeting as they presented their “Local Solutions to the E-toxic Waste Pollution Issue in Africa” project. The young problem-solving engineers were Michael Baker, Alex Chipman, Cody Jacobs, Luca Rodriguez and Jameson Switzer, accompanied by their teachers Kristel Lunn and Suzanne Neufeld. The students and presentation received high praise from Mayor Valdez, who said they were, “well-prepared and professional” presenters and that “12 is the new 25!”
The City of Littleton has generously offered to partner with the top two group projects: one focusing on reducing toxic e-waste pollution in Africa through a school-city e-waste recycling campaign partnership and the other based on improving water quality for African mining workers families by reimagining a more sustainable portable water filter. The projects are taught via the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method, in which complex real-world problems are used to promote student learning of concepts and principles. In addition to course content, PBL can promote the development of critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and communication skills.
The City Council included project mentors Councilwoman Karina Elrod (a Euclid parent) and Mayor Valdez, who along with over 20 parents, LPS leaders and Littleton City leaders had mentored and judged student presentations through a design-thinking process. This community guidance was essential for the project when empathy was used to help students become real engineers who shape their ideas based on end-user feedback. The result was a realistic and viable local solution that would bring about real change on a complicated global problem.