Menlo News March 23, 2023

Seventh Graders Seek Solutions to Social Issues

MOVE research project inspires students to make a positive impact

Seventh grade Social Sciences students gathered at the Spieker Center for the Arts—along with fellow students, proud parents, and teachers—to give presentations on problems in society they are passionate about solving. Topics ranged from ocean pollution, to the opioid crisis, artificial intelligence, biodiversity, women’s rights, and more. Students courageously took to the Spieker stage to make their case for why their particular topic was important, what could be done to address it, and answered some thought-provoking questions from their peers who wanted to learn more.

“Motivate, Overcome, Voice, and Empower (MOVE) is a social justice research project about a current problem in modern society that asks students to investigate, research solutions, and feel empowered to make a difference in the world,” said seventh grade Social Sciences teacher Cody Carefoot. “We ask them to pick a topic they are passionate about, conduct research, write an argumentative research paper, and present their findings to their peers and families. Some students even perform volunteer work pertaining to their topic.”

“Many lives have been affected by the War on Drugs,” said Alexa ’28, during her presentation. “People are wrongfully convicted and put in jail for the wrong reasons, which can lead to more lives being destroyed.” When asked by a fellow student why she chose America’s drug war to research, she replied, “The War on Drugs is such an important issue, and I feel like not enough people know about it.”

After Fletcher ’28 concluded his presentation about mental health and the ways in which people can do small things to achieve great results, Mr. Carefoot asked, “After all of your research into this topic, what positive changes have occurred in your life, if any?”

“Knowing that I can do these simple things to take care of myself, that don’t take too much time, has already made me feel better as a whole,” he replied, about meditating, going for a walk, or reducing screen time to improve a sense of well-being. “We are currently in a mental health crisis in this country, but if we create more resources to combat the problem, reduce stigma, raise awareness, and make healthcare accessible to more people, we can make a difference.”

“When students take a deep dive into their topics, it helps improve their research, writing, and presentation skills,” concluded Carefoot. “Ultimately, the goal is helping them to understand they can create a positive and lasting impact on our communities.”