Saturday, April 19, 2008

High Tech Humanitarianism

Recently there has been a lot of excitement at my school around the website Freerice.com. Our school's Civil Rights Team has sponsored a school wide competition on the site. The website has two simple goals.
1. Create a SAT type vocabulary practice for students.
2. Raise money to donate rice to starving countries.
Help end world hunger

For every right answer a student provides, Freerice donates 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program. The money comes from advertisers running ads on the bottom of the site. I have had several conversations with students trying to explain the concept of ad-supported services recently. They seem totally unaware that their myspace, facebook, Gmail, or even their local TV are supported by the advertisers.

The site lets you remember your previous total on that machine without having to log in and adjusts your questions to a difficulty level you are comfortable with.

Our Civil Rights Team is providing prizes to the individual and the homeroom with the highest amount of rice donated. The competition for our school will end on May 15th, when we will tally up the totals and award the prizes.

It has been a great motivator for students and since we have a 1-to-1 laptop initiative for our whole high school, it is being played by most students several times a day. This is a good thing since I heard a news story on NPR recently that the world food market for rice has been disastrous. Apparently the price of rice per ton has gone from $250 USD to $860 USD in just a short time. Click below to listen to a news report about the food market pressures.


Who would have thought that laptops could feed people? If you'd like more information about how we started this competition so that you could sponsor one, send me a comment or email.

2 comments:

skip zalneraitis said...

Very timely post...I have been emphasizing the influence of mass media without explaining the why of it. Thanks for turning on the light.
Great idea to do comps with the students. I might make it aopen to students and faculty.

Anonymous said...

You might want to check out Freepoverty.com also. Play the geography game to donate water.

http://www.freepoverty.com/