Crossroads News

Middle School Students Take on U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

Eighth-grade Core projects answer a call to action with creative collaborations.
Standing in front of lively displays, packed with well-researched information panels and interactive components, eighth-grade Core students spoke with confidence and optimism about some of the world’s most pressing issues. They were presenting projects they had designed to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs reflect the interconnected global challenges we face, including poverty; inequality; climate change; environmental degradation; and peace and justice, and were created as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” 

Students were introduced to the SDGs as part of Crossroads’ unique Middle School Core curriculum, which integrates history, English, social studies and current events. They researched the 17 goals and worked in groups to come up with an innovative idea in support of one of the goals and that could potentially be sustainable.

As a class they discussed what they wanted to accomplish and what kinds of obstacles they might face. Students expressed that their projects might not be taken seriously because of their age and they wondered if they could create projects that could actually have an impact. Articulating the potential obstacles helped students shape projects they could feel confident about pursuing and that had creative solutions to anticipated challenges. 

Said Core teacher Julian Laurent, “Students were electrified as they moved from doubting that anything they could do would be meaningful to realizing that they could find ways to make an impact and find a way forward that is based in optimism and collaboration.”

The projects addressed issues ranging from ocean pollution to food insecurity to deforestation and each demonstrated a unique approach to creating change. One group designed a children’s book that supported both Goal 15: Life on Land, and Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing. The book, “A Fruitful Life,” reflects on the nature of emotions and growth over time, and is made of paper with embedded seeds, so that the pages can be planted and grow into a garden. 

Another group addressing Goal 12: Responsible Production and Consumption, researched the pollution caused by clothing manufacturing. They created a clothes-swap program to reduce the need to purchase new clothes and raise awareness among their peers. “I’ve learned so much about the amount of waste created by the clothing industry and think it’s really important that we find solutions to the pollution problem,” said group member Marissa Amores.

The December presentations marked the end of the first phase of the SDGs projects. Students will continue to hone their ideas and realize their programs, products and collaborations as service learning projects this spring.