52 Minute Challenge
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Creative Commons License
52 Minute Challenge by Glenn Corey, 2014 Allen Distinguished Educator is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Project Overview

In this project, students get one class period (52 minutes) to find a real problem on campus, document it, develop a solution and prepare a market-based presentation to be peer-reviewed the next day.

Glenn Corey

School: Novato High School

Type of School: Public - District

Location: Novato, CA

Population: 1358

Demographic: 43% minority students

% Free/reduced lunch program: 34%

Learning Outcomes

This project integrates engineering, design and business concepts and meets learning standards from 9th to 12th grade. The main goal of this project is to highlight the importance of collaboration when working under a tight deadline - a common situation in today's working world.

Download the open-source Project Plan Materials to view a complete list of standards and learning outcomes addressed in this project.

How Glenn Does It

  • Grade: 11th & 12th
  • Timing: 2 days
  • Subjects: Glenn focuses on business concepts, engineering and design, and real-world learning
  • Materials: Glenn's students use a creative whack pack, computers, smart phones or cameras, sketch pads and pens and sticky notes.
  • Project Steps: Glenn completes this project with his class in two class periods (each 52 minutes long)

How You Can Do It

  • Grade: 9th - 12th grade
  • Timing: 2 days - 1 week
  • Subjects: You could guide your students to focus on a specific topic or concept that supports your current or ongoing curriculum 
  • Materials: If smart phones or cameras are unavailable for your students you could instruct them to make sketches or rent cameras for your class
  • Project Steps: Depending on your classroom schedule and your students' grade level you may want to spend more time preparing students for the project or extend the project from two days to one week
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Comments (28)
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Keith Gilliam
4/29/2017 1:22:05 PM

Teacher from Lithonia, GA
My students just completed their 52 Minute Challenge Project (used approximately 3 days), and several groups created excellent projects. The budget for this project is excellent, especially if you have access to items such cameras, computers, etc. I am very appreciative that my students experienced this opportunity. Thanks ADE!

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Keith Gilliam
4/19/2017 5:19:08 PM

Teacher from Lithonia, GA
This project for me has been great! It was a superb idea, and I appreciated the $50.00 budget because we did need a few supplies. After showing my students the web site, they really became excited. I did tell them that we may be on this web site, but I am not sure. In any event, I appreciate my students, and each group did their absolute best!

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Jenny Burns
11/2/2016 3:45:56 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Thanks for this added insight Kellie!

Now that you explain it, $50 does indeed seem like a value that 2nd-5th graders could understand. It's also great to know more about your plans to further adapt this project in the future. Expanding this project to three classes is a good idea, especially since constructive feedback is such a valuable component of this project.

Your last statement is moving "I wanted to promote the idea that [students] are capable of creating change and making our world, not just our school, a better place."

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Kellie Taylor
11/2/2016 2:11:46 PM

Teacher from Eagle, ID
Hi Jenny,

I used the $50 budget because I felt it was an value that all the grade levels could understand the value. Many students were curious as to whether they would be able to implement their ideas. However, with a total of 14 classes in 2nd -5th grades, that would not have been possible. I see a total of 22 classes each week K-5th grade. This project was completed by four 2nd grade, four third grade, three fourth grade, and three fifth grade classes.

In the future, I will break the project development portion of the challenge into two classes, with a third class for peer reviewing the projects and adding feedback through comments. Furthermore, my students found it difficult at times to think critically about the projects and provide constructive feedback. Next time, I will offer sentence starters for the comments at grade-appropriate levels. We use Bono's Thinking Hats in our classroom for group collaboration. The four roles fit well with a collaborative project like this.

One goal for the project was that students begin to see money isn't the only way to solve a problem. In addition, I wanted to promote the idea that they are capable of creating change and making our world, not just our school, a better place.

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Jenny Burns
11/2/2016 11:56:39 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Kellie,

Thanks for joining the conversation. Your $50 budget idea is an interesting addition to this project. This limited budget is nicely aligned with the real-world business simulation that this project was founded on. After students completed their projects, were they given $50 to implement their idea? Did any follow-up projects result from this?

For clarification, I’m also curious if you teach a multi-age class 2nd-5th grades or if you teach separate classes throughout the day. If you teach a multi-age class, please share insight about how you differentiated instruction during this project to reach students in different grade levels.

Many teachers have reported similar feedback to yours – that this project was eye opening to learn about problems in the school from the students’ perspective. I’m glad to hear that your students also felt empowered by this project.

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Kellie Taylor
11/2/2016 11:31:49 AM

Teacher from Eagle, ID
I completed a modified 52 Minute Challenge with my elementary students in 2nd-5th grades. They were asked to think about problems in our school that could be solved with little or no money. The maximum budget was $50. It was very interesting to see how some student groups handled the limited funds. While some groups opted for problems that could be solved without going over the budget, other groups wanted to create fundraisers. Although I honored their creativity, I did not let them use fundraisers to solve the problem.

The project offered great opportunities for students to develop an understanding for budget constraints. It was also very enlightening as the teacher to learn of problems in the school that appeared in each of the classes. This was a fantastic project the was empowering for the students and eyeopening for the me.

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Jenny Burns
8/16/2016 2:00:47 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Thanks for this additional insight Diane!

Learning to work well in a group setting is as challenging as it is important.

I’m glad to hear your plan to incorporate more team building exercises into your curriculum next school year as a result of your experience with this project! Additionally, I like your grading rubric idea and think that self-assessment would work well in this context.

What type of team building lessons are you considering, or what lessons have worked well already?

- Jenny

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Diane Buchanan
8/16/2016 5:39:35 AM

Teacher from Indianapolis, IN
Hi Jenny,
Ultimately every team but one made the deadline! Some of the challenges the students faced were letting go of their own idea in favor of someone else's, creating a hierarchy within their team to divide tasks, and finally, having all team members staying focused and on task.

One adaptation we made to the DIY Guide was to build in team building lessons and activities prior to the project. Each lessons included some form of hands on task and a debrief. Students did well with these hands on tasks, but that ease did not transfer as well to working together on a more academic task. I have planned to introduce team and community building lessons into our curriculum on a weekly basis for the 2016-2017 year. These tasks will rotate from traditional hands on to academic. I'm planning to have students use a rubric to rate themselves on their growth as a team player.

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Jenny Burns
8/15/2016 8:59:16 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Diane,

Thank you for sharing your experience implementing this project with your 4th grade students. Can you share more about the challenges your students faced with teamwork? Were they successful meeting the deadline?

Do any other teachers have recommendations for teaching and supporting teamwork skills in the classroom?

- Jenny

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Diane Buchanan
8/13/2016 8:38:25 AM

Teacher from Indianapolis, IN
Hi everyone!
I adapted the challenge for 4th grade students (10 years old). While finding a problem and addressing it, was the overall driving factor, my major focus for the children was how to truly work as a team with an aggressive deadline. I felt these were real world skills that students would be able to carry with them throughout their education and into their careers. Contrary to popular belief, teamwork does not come easy to ten year old children. :)
Diane Buchanan

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Jenny Burns
7/25/2016 9:02:37 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Carole,

Great idea to adapt this project with a focus on computer science! I’m curious to know more about the projects your students came up with or if, through their research, they decided to implement an existing technological solution to address a problem at your school.

Also I’m curious to know how this project was received by parents and school administration.

Thanks for sharing this Carole!

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Carole Ng
7/24/2016 3:48:22 AM

Teacher from San Jose, CA
I teach computer science, and I used this project to ask students to come up with a problem in school, document it, and then find a technological solution. The cool part is that they had to document their competitiveness. This helped students to understand what sort of solutions were available already, and why we were not using these solutions. This means that their solutions had to be somehow "better" than the current ones.

It was an awesome project. At the beginning, it was hard for students to finish in 52 minutes. I let them use 90 minutes, but when I did it again, most students could get their work done in 52 minutes.

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Adam Burns
6/6/2016 5:16:58 PM

Teacher from Troy, MI
Thanks, Jenny.

I have had the opportunity to see the effects of the guide on different groups. This year I would say it was probably about 75% of the students that continued with what they started with the guide as their project. Last year we obviously did not have the guide at all.

The difference is pretty stark. Of that 25% who pursued other things, some of them were successful, but those who did our best work were definitely part of that 75%

I think the crucial difference, mainly between this year and last, is that the time frame specified in the guide forced students to start small. Last year (the first year of Innovation as well) we didn't really know what we were in for, and students took on way more than they could handle by setting their sights high. It was admirable at the time and what we thought we needed, but in hindsight we were setting ourselves up for failure.

With the guide in mind, students began small. That allowed them to have some little victories and success in the early stages which they could build upon. This gave them a lot of momentum, momentum that they never really achieved last year. Most of the projects went far above and beyond what they set out to do because the projects grew into things they wouldn't have foreseen at the start.

It makes sense that Glenn uses this as a starting off point. It is what I will use in the future.

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Jenny Burns
6/6/2016 3:05:15 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Adam,

It's great to hear how this project provided a helpful new structure and perspective to your innovation and broadcasting curriculum. Your adaptation to use the 52 Minute Challenge as a starting-off point seems to have really worked well for your class as part of your larger school innovation project. Similarly, Glenn Corey uses this project to establish structure and an early example of entrepreneurial thinking.

Those videos and student examples are fantastic! Thank you for sharing them. The PSA is well done and very moving, it’s clear it see why this video is award-winning. The Haiti Project video provided a good snapshot to the authentic connection between your students and their learning.

You mention that students who began their projects with the 52 Minute Challenge really thrived. Can you share more information about this and how their work compared to student groups who began their projects without the 52 Minute Challenge?

All the best,
- Jenny

PS: It sounds like you do a lot of fundraising work in your class as well. You may be interested in the philanthropic engineering work by 2016 ADEs Dawn DuPriest and Tracey Winey. Visit > bit.ly/TraceyDawnADE to learn more about their work.

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Adam Burns
6/6/2016 10:48:57 AM

Teacher from Troy, MI
I love this project because it fits seamlessly into the curriculum of two of the courses I teach--Innovation, which requires students to develop and produce a project throughout the course of the year--and Broadcasting, which involves students making short videos for our film festivals and daily news broadcast.


Innovating an aspect of our school has always been a project within the classes, but this guide helped give us a little more focus. In the past, we have attempted to have the entire class work together, but with this guide, they broke into smaller groups. One group immediately tackled an annoying issue at our school--the total lack of sense in our room numbering system. They spent their time walking through the halls and looking at a building map to try to come up with a better system...which they did! It was approved by our administration, who agreed to fund the new name plates required for our new system. The feedback has been great, and the best part is that if it makes even just a tiny bit of sense we will already be ahead.

Another issue identified was a little more abstract...the increasingly lack of kindness. The group began by scripting and shooting a PSA and eventually started the Athens Do Random Acts of Kindness (DoRAK) club, which did things throughout the year like a teacher raffle for Charity Week, which raised $500, celebrated Kindness Day, a day devoted to kindness, and distributed uplifting notes on random days and holidays.

Their video went on to win the Best Public Service Announcement in the state at the Interscholastic Film Festival, an Award of Excellence at the Detroit Arts, Film, and Television Festival, Best in Show PSA at the Orchard Lake Film Festival, and was nominated for a state student EMMY award. It can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iHesPvL-PM

Our biggest achievement with the guide was our Haiti Project, which began the day we did the guide and some students were frustrated by the level of waste we seemed to generate--not like garbage, but in the amount of things we all have that are just sitting around. A student who had recently traveled to the Joan Rose Foundation in Haiti overheard them and they started talking. By the end of the hour, they had the idea that they would travel there with supplies--instruments, donations, anything people were not using here that could be used there.

Well, it exploded. The Joan Rose Foundation became the charity for our Charity Week, during which we raised $84,000 for the Foundation. The students continued with their own tangible donations, and, over spring break, traveled to the Foundation as they set out to do. A video overview can be seen here:

https://vimeo.com/168278933

In short, this guide was awesome. While we were following the spirit of the guide prior to learning about this opportunity, the extra level of structure gave us the focus needed to succeed. I really liked that there is flexibility built into this as well. While some students did do theirs in the allotted time, it seemed rushed and the finished products reflected that. In the future, I imagine they will improve as I will know more what to expect.

However, those that used that first 52 minutes as their starting off point really thrived. I would say that is the biggest thing--I like the time frame given because it forces students to buckle down and focus, but if they have a good idea, a big idea, it is great if you can give them further time to run with it.

I will absolutely continue to do this year after year and I look forward to adapting and improving it or each class.

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Jenny Burns
5/24/2016 8:29:50 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Karoline,

I'm glad to hear your students loved the project and I'm curious to know more about their room for growth when it comes to understanding competitiveness.

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Jenny Burns
5/24/2016 8:27:38 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Andrea,

Thanks for sharing that video, it is fantastic! You added such a creative twist this project and it seems to really embody the core learning objectives outlined by Glenn. Working collaboratively under a deadline is hugely relevant to the 21st century workforce and it looks like your students experienced that in a truly authentic and engaging way.

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Karoline Towner
5/23/2016 6:35:28 PM

Teacher from Chicago, IL
We finally finished. I had to middy a few things though, but my students loved it. It got them out of the classroom and observing their surroundings. We still need work on understanding competitiveness.

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Andrea DeGette
5/19/2016 9:35:34 AM

Teacher from Hillsborough, NC
We enjoyed this project and all of my students participated! I have 10 completed videos for the challenge as well as the following link to our completion video! Thanks for this project...I will definitely keep it in my curriculum!
Thanks again,
Andrea DeGette
Videography Instructor, CRHS
https://vimeo.com/167298219

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Jenny Burns
4/25/2016 8:33:06 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Karoline,

This is exciting news, I hope your students are well-rested after spring break and ready to rock & roll with this project too! You are encouraged to adapt this project in ways that will fit the unique needs of your students and classroom environment.

Check out more comments below to see how a middle school teacher, Alaine Davis, modified and implemented this project already.

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Karoline Towner
4/23/2016 4:22:51 PM

Teacher from Chicago, IL
I'm beginning this project next week with my students. A little nervous but ready to rock & roll. I'll start with the Whack Pack first to get their creative juices flowing; since students will be coming back after spring break.

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Jenny Burns
3/30/2016 4:48:44 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Alaine! Thanks for this feedback. The pencil/printer idea is so creative! Your statement that "the time crunch really kept them productive and focused for the entire time" is so true to Glenn's vision of this project as a tool to show students what real-world professional "time crunches" feel like.

Your mock-up addition to this project sounds like it worked really well. Did you find that your students connected more with the project when they had a tangible deliverable to show? It's also great to hear your students enjoyed using Google Slides, do you plan and using Google Slides in more lessons moving forward?

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Alaine Davis
3/30/2016 3:55:57 PM

Teacher from Bothell, WA
I teach at Woodinville Montessori School, and I just used this guide in my class today with a group of thirty 7th and 8th grade students. I adapted it to do the entire project in one 2-hour and 15-minute block, which worked great. The time crunch really kept them productive and focused for the entire time. I had students work in groups of five, and we started with a 5-minute warm-up, which consisted of asking students to come up with as many product "mash-ups" as they could in their small groups. They had to combine an existing object found in the school environment and combine it with something else to invent a new product (one example was combining pencil and a printer to make a device that prints with graphite so you can erase parts of it to change it). Once we discussed brainstorming guidelines, I asked each group to identify a problem in the school environment that they thought could be solved with a new product design. One piece I added to the project was having each group also build a mock-up of their product using just cardboard, masking tape, and a black sharpie. This was a lot of fun and was a great way to involve the kids who benefit from hands-on projects. Most of my students hadn't used Google Slides before, and this was also a positive learning experience. Not only could several students in each group be working on the presentation at the same time, but when they were finished they just shared the presentations with me and I could project them without having to change computers. Overall, students were very engaged and positive about this project. I would definitely do it again with a new group of students--or possibly something slightly different with the same group of students!

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Jenny Burns
11/30/2015 11:24:39 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Great points Tina!

Thank you for sharing your ideas on how you would modify and adapt this project. I like your idea to tailor this project per school for specific subject areas. Certainly this project will encourage out of the box thinking as you pointed out. What grade students do you teach?

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tina cornely
11/28/2015 7:06:25 AM

Teacher from miami, FL
Kudos on a great concept! Teaching kids how to think on their feet, love it! My thoughts on how I would implement this? Well, at first I thought it might be helpful for the teacher to do a trial run to prep the students ahead of time. However, this takes away the surprise element. Here is my "balcony" view of this project. Today we have a multitude of magnet schools ie architecture, art, stem, tech, etc. Why not tailor the 52 minute challenge per school? For instance at the architecture school the teacher could ask the students to come up with an urban planning problem (and solution) in their neighborhoods. And allow the students to make due with what ever tools they have available to them. I would also invite the students to do a peer review afterwards. Lastly, I would make it fun. Overall, this type of teaching is the perfect example of #AlternativeEducation that can jumpstart students into thinking outside of the box. No matter the results, everyone is a winner.

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Jenny Burns
11/18/2015 1:44:49 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Hi Karoline, thanks for your feedback!

We would love to hear how you plan to implement this project with your 8th graders. You bring up an interesting challenge about managing this project through an inner-city environment. What other environments do you think could work for the 52 minute challenge? We believe this project could work both within or outside of a school, what are your thoughts?

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Karoline Towner
11/17/2015 8:17:04 PM

Teacher from Chicago, IL
Interesting indeed, I can see my 8th grade students highly engaged in this activity. Maybe an issue with management though in the inner- city environment. Can stay within the school?

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Jenny Burns
11/9/2015 11:07:53 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
This is such a fascinating project. We are especially impressed with how engaged, busy and creative students are when working on the 52 minute challenge. How are teachers planning to adapt and implement this project in their own classrooms??

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