Focus on the Grade 8 Challenge

Focus on the Grade 8 Challenge
Kelli Meeker

The Middle Year Programme Coordinator, Kelli Meeker, reflects on the Grade 8 challenge, a key event in Middle School life

We help every student turn their learning into action, creating the opportunity to stretch themselves further and achieve more than they believe possible.

Recently, the Grade 8 students in Middle School celebrated turning their learning into action through the Grade 8 Community Challenge. Through this hands-on Design class based project, students take on a long-term, self-directed inquiry project with the outcome of providing a service to the community. 

Stella's work in the Grade 8 challenge

Stella's Grade 8 challenge exhibition

A student presents his work at the Grade 8 challenge

Through the project, students leverage their own interests and passions to develop projects that provide service to the community. During the design process, students research issues, develop ideas, and create solutions. Students developed ideas for both local and global issues, ranging from personal challenges (e.g. nutrition, wellbeing, Swiss safety laws) to complex societal issues (e.g. carbon footprint, environmental concerns, poverty).  An example of this can be seen through Stella’s project. Stella took her interest in architecture and her desire to impact life on earth and inquired into the ways architecture can be used to meet humanitarian needs. 

In her research, Stella found most of the focus had been in medical and school facilities, but she wanted to design something that impacted people's daily lives -  their home.  Stella researched the complications for girls living in rural Africa and designed a sustainable home intended to ensure safe and healthy living conditions, a factor in girls' access to education for girls living in rural locations. 

In addition to engaging students in inquiring into meaningful issues, the Grade 8 challenge also enables students to think about their own learning profile and approaches to learning.  Through the project, students use approaches to learning skills (e.g. communication skills, social skills, self-management, research and thinking) in order to create their product.  Student’s self-select the skills that will best match their project, select strategies for strengthening those skills, and reflect on their growth. These skills support students in completing their project, and as Daniel put’s it, in their future learning as well. 


The Grade 8 challenge provides students with the opportunity to build meaningful connections between their learning and their world.  Turning their learning into action, they make personal decisions about their own skills, develop personal goals, and reflect on their growth.  All, while working to make our world a better, kinder, place.



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