KIDS Consortium's Blog

21st Century Skills and Service Learning: Data Collection and Analysis Creating Critical Thinkers and Effective Citizens

Posted in Service-Learning, Uncategorized by KIDS Consortium on November 18, 2011

Wanted: caring citizens who think critically, analyze information and make well-informed choices.

Last week I posted a list of seven ways service learning provides opportunities for students to demonstrate 21st Century Skills and gave examples of one of the skills being met through a real project.

Here again is the list:

1) Solve complex, multidisciplinary problems;

2) Think critically, analyze information and make well-informed choices;

3) Be creative and entrepreneurial;

4) Communicate effectively in person and in writing;

5) Collaborate and foster teamwork;

6) Participate in civic life and democratic decision-making; and

7) Cultivate an ongoing commitment to learning.

Let’s look at another project and see how students are developing these skills.

Middle school students, part of the Youth as Citizen Scientists initiative, did a wonderful job impacting an environmental issue while demonstrating the 21st Century Skills of thinking critically, analyzing information and making well-informed choices. The River Ecology project integrated STEM topics and English Language Arts.

The students did some research and learned about the importance of healthy riparian areas. Then, with help from community partners they did a lot of fieldwork. They made many observations of sections of rivers and conducted a series of water quality tests (among them pH and water temperature and dissolved oxygen). Drawing reliable conclusions, they learned, required lots of data. After careful synthesis and analysis of all that data they they concluded that yes, the water quality of the river was poor due to erosion. While some erosion is natural, some is the result of humans.

But what to do? What actions could they take that would effectively impact the problems suggested by the data? Again, they turned to information from their research, fieldwork and help from community partners to guide them.

After weighing many options, one action they choose was a hands-on approach. They selected trees that would provide a strong root system to hold the bank’s soil in place. On a long day of planting, over 100 trees were planted, beginning a process of repairing the river’s riparian area.

Pretty cool, huh?

Help from a community partner

Now sure, to describe this project in less than 400 words I had to leave out discussion of a lot of the 21st Century Skills as well as the content and skills within STEM and English Language Arts the students demonstrated.

What other 21st Century skills do you think the students who did the River Ecology project developed while doing it? Would an effort like this help your students or your program’s youth to demonstrate outcomes about which you care? Have you worked with a group that did something similar?

Visit the River Ecology project description to learn more details about this effort.

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  1. […] to demonstrate 21st Century Skills. If you are just joining and want to catch up…the 1st, 2nd, and […]

  2. […] through service learning. You can read the discussion of the first of five skills on the list (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ) by using the links in the parentheses or by scrolling down through this […]

  3. […] of the other 6 21st Century Skills supported by service-learning are posted in this blog: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, […]

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