American Student Assistance® (ASA), a national nonprofit focused on fostering students’ understanding of post-secondary education and career pathways
BOSTON, May 25, 2021 American Student Assistance® (ASA), a national nonprofit focused on fostering students’ understanding of post-secondary education and career pathways, announced during a virtual ceremony May 11 the “Environmental Defense Team,” a team of middle school students from Larchmont Charter School in Los Angeles, CA, were awarded third place in the national ASA Solve Together: Tomorrow’s Leaders Tackling Today’s Challenges contest. The school was awarded $2,500, and the team of students won $500. In addition, middle school teacher Hannah Choi, also from Larchmont Charter School, was recognized with the ASA Solve Together Educator Award of $1,000 for her work in teaching students about the far-reaching economic impact of COVID-19 to develop real-world solutions.
ASA Solve Together is a national competition designed to encourage career exploration and skill-building for middle school students through project-based learning and teamwork. Each proposed challenge is aligned to grade-level standards so educators can incorporate them into daily learning and help students build critical foundational skills like communication, critical thinking and collaboration. Student teams select a career role — such as the role of a government official, restaurateur, nonprofit leader, engineer, scientist, architect — identify a challenge, develop a solution, and build and present their project.
With the help of teacher Rachel Jung, the team of four seventh grade students took on careers as environmental scientists, presenting a plan for scaling using four different energy sources – including wind turbines, hydrokinetic energy, solar panels – to address climate change. Learn more about their work here.
“Our generation cares deeply about a sustainable future and the issues of climate change are important to address,” said Rachel Jung, seventh grade English teacher, Larchmont Charter School. “Through the Solve Together challenge, we were able to examine new ways to use green energy resources to protect our planet.”
Educator Award recipient Hannah Choi worked with 32 teams of math students to delve deeper into the economic challenges created and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With her guidance, students gained problem-solving skills through a variety of exercises. One team created a podcast that highlights how to support small businesses during the pandemic. While another team, acting as government officials, developed safety measures for airlines.
“As soon as I announced this opportunity, my students displayed a level of excitement and interest I haven’t seen before,” said Hannah Choi, seventh grade Math teacher, Larchmont Charter School. “Students worked countless hours to work together as a team to problem solve, and I’m so proud of all the effort that went in. Hopefully, this introduced them to a new career field they would’ve never considered, and I’m confident these creative thinkers will change the world for the better!”
“Students from all backgrounds crave learning that feels relevant to their daily lives. Providing equitable access to project-based learning and career exploration opportunities is critical in enabling educators and schools to prepare students for long-term success,” said ASA President and CEO Jean Eddy. “Thanks to educators like Hannah Choi, students are welcoming the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real world challenges, and hopefully to their future careers.”
The team was selected from 189 total submissions from 23 schools across 12 states. The submissions were reviewed by a panel of judges that included representatives from the Association for Middle Level Educators (AMLE) and ASA. AMLE is a premier partner of ASA Solve Together.
In addition to bragging rights and the cash prize, the students received a trophy to put in their classroom and a banner for their school.
“We are very proud of our Larchmont students and teachers,” said Sarah Perkins, principal at Larchmont Charter at Selma. “We strive to push student thinking and this group is a prime example of collaboration, ingenuity, and perseverance at its best. Thank you to all of our wonderful parents for their support as well.”
To learn more, go to asasolvetogether.org.
About American Student Assistance® (ASA)
American Student Assistance® (ASA) is a national nonprofit committed to helping kids know themselves, know their options, and make informed choices to achieve their education and career goals. ASA® has a 60-year legacy of working directly with students to increase their access to higher education through loans and financial education. ASA has turned its experience into impactful solutions for students in grades 6-12 to help them pursue their dreams. To learn more about ASA, visit www.asa.org/about-us