Middle-school guidance counselor and wellness coordinator Rachelle Vallon describes in this blog post how her New York City public school uses two-week group challenges each trimester to assess students' academic knowledge, as well as their problem-solving and collaborative skills. For instance, sixth-graders built a machine that includes elements discussed in science class such as inclined planes, and levers and pulleys. "The application of acquired knowledge in a creative space keeps them engaged and empowers them to take ownership of their learning," she writes.

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