Posted by Andrew Ko
Senior Director of U.S. Partners in Learning, Microsoft
One of Dr. Martin Luther King’s lasting legacies is the notion of service to community.
Today, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of MLK Day – the only federal holiday designated by Congress as a national Day of Service. It’s a great opportunity to continue his legacy and give back to the communities through volunteerism.
To spark excitement and encourage youth to get involved on MLK Day and throughout the year, Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning, in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service, Nuvana, the Exploratorium and ePals, have added a number of real-world “missions” focused on MLK Day themes to InterroBang, a socially-networked educational game aimed at getting young people involved in their communities.
Students play InterroBang by completing “missions” that challenge them to engage in their communities in some way – such as exploring the local environment, helping the community, creating and sharing art, volunteering at senior centers and more. The more their solutions positively impact the real world, the more points they get – and the more they enjoy learning. We believe that service-learning engages students, and gets them excited about learning. Project-based learning also helps students see the connection between learning and real-life. It encourages them to develop 21st century skills like problem solving, collaboration, communications and creative thinking that will help them succeed in their adult lives and help make a difference in the world. For more information on Interrobang, watch this video.
Students and schools from around the nation will take part in MLK Day by playing InterroBang. One of those inspiring students is Hannah Chapple.
Hannah is a senior at Loudoun County High School, a public high school in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Hannah is earning credit in her English class by completing Interrobang missions. Her chosen “mission” was to celebrate MLK’s “I have a dream…” speech through painting, since art is her passion.
Inspiration struck, and she asked herself, “Why just create a few dreams on a canvas, when you can get the entire student population's dreams on a mural?” So she created a “Box of Dreams” and invited LCHS students to submit their dreams. This weekend, Hannah and her friends will paint a mural with the school’s dreams for the future showing all of the collected students’ dreams painted around a picture of Martin Luther King.
Many of the dreams from the students are for world peace or the end of hunger, war or child abuse, along with many personal dreams. Hannah and her friends plan to share the mural with their classmates when school is back in session on Tuesday.
Hannah’s story is just one example of how students are coming together to serve their community and make a difference. Encouraging and inspiring interest in community service in our young people is critical. Schools and educators can continue to fuel this commitment too – even through the simple act of playing an online game. A very humble man, Dr. King once wrote, “Anybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”
For more information about MLK and InterroBang’s efforts, please visit the TeachTec Blog.