The Kings Hospital School, located in Dublin, is a co-educational secondary school for borders and day students, which offers a broad academic curriculum and a wide range of extracurricular activities.
In Ireland young people participate in a Transition Year programme, which forms the first-year senior cycle in many schools. It’s a year that is designed to create a bridge between the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate programmes. Transition Year is an option for students in most schools. It offers learners an opportunity to mature and develop without the pressure of an examination. It also provides an opportunity for learners to reflect on, and develop an appreciation of, the value of learning in preparing them for the ever-changing demands of the adult world of work, further and higher education and relationships.
When covid-19 hit and schools in the Republic of Ireland were required to go into lockdown. The year-long inquiry-based action projects that Transition Year students at The Kings Hospital School were doing with other schools in the European Union were put on hold. In particular, the eTwinning project that the students were organising called “Get up and goals” was put on hold indefinitely. This project partnered with schools in Croatia, Italy and Turkey and focused on learning about the SDGs and creating transnational actions projects to highlight global and local issues. The programme which had mostly been face-to-face was now completely online.
This posed a challenge – How could the students continue to engage with the global themes they’d been exploring and change the focus of the “Get up and goals” project?
To continue on with their global education teacher Viki Malcolm encouraged her European studies students to complete the #17DaystoLearn Challenge. The #17DaystoLearn Challenge is a 17-day challenge to educate and inspire young people to take action around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In addition students at The Kings Hospital have taken their project online.
The original project plan was to have a community day of action planned for the issues raised for each SDG – however, lockdown ended that. Instead, students took their awareness campaigns online by creating Instagram or Twitter accounts for their chosen SDG and others conducted surveys of students in their school on their chosen topic. The collaborative work has been collated on a Wix site and this became the final product of the project.
Students were encouraged to complete at least one challenge – that which related to the challenge; they were to motivate students to get involved in the challenge and became an assessment item.
Some students were inspired to complete each of the challenges for the #17DaystoLearn Challenge over each of the 17 days. Here is a reflection from one of the participants who actively engaged in the challenge.
I participated in the #17DaystoLearn Challenge for a couple of reasons. The main one was because my European Studies teacher encouraged me to take part. Throughout the past year, we have been working on a project with students from all over Europe, developing our knowledge of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. When I first heard about the #17DaystoLearn Challenge, I thought that it would be a great way to enhance my understanding of the Goals and help me to finish my project.
I started on Day 1 with the first Goal, No Poverty. I watched the relevant videos on the Makematic app, wrote a blog on my thoughts and completed the activity for the day. I did this for all 17 days.
Each day brought something new, whether it was learning about Reduced Inequalities or Life Below Water. I learned so much about a variety of different issues and how the UN is trying to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030.
Because I did it for 17 days, I was able to spend time on each goal. In class, I had mainly focused on two or three goals but the #17DaystoLearn Challenge forced me to research all of the goals, expanding my knowledge on each of the interesting topics.
To achieve the 17 Goals by 2030, action is needed. Not just by the UN and governments worldwide, but action from every single citizen of the world. We all live on this Earth. We all have an important part to play.
Thomas Eve, 16 years old
Adjusting to the new normal whether that be in everyday life or in a virtual classroom is not an easy task. Nonetheless, it’s an adjustment that we are all facing. The students of The Kings Hospital school had impactful plans to inspire and educate others about the SDGs. However, with the effects of covid-19, the original plan of action halted. But with the use of technology they were able to continue their project online by participating in the #17DaystoLearn challenge. They utilized social media and websites to communicate and collaborate with what they have learned about 17 SDGs. They learned, participated and reflected about the SDGs and realised what role they play in ensuring that we meet the 17 SDGs by 2030.