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Daily News Lessons (show all)

Connection Challenge: Students leave social comfort zones to build stronger, safer communities

June 3, 2018


Inspired by Parkland students, three schools across the U.S. participated in the Connection Challenge as a way to step out of their comfort zones and connect with other young people at school who they wouldn’t normally interact with. PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs teamed up with Snapchat on April 20th, the day of the National School Walkout, to cover the event.

  • Watch the video and answer the discussion questions. Your class or school may want to hold its own Connection Challenge. Check out the extension activity below.
Discussion questions:
  1. Essential question: How might purposefully reaching out across social groups help make schools a more welcoming and potentially safer place?
  2. Do you think strengthening peer-to-peer relationships through activities like the Connection Challenge could help prevent incidents of gun violence at schools? Explain your response.
  3. What are some positive outcomes of the Connection Challenge? What would you do differently to make the challenge more successful?
  4. Do you think schools should support student walkouts? Do you think school administrators should support activities like the Connection Challenge? Explain your response.
  5. Media literacy: Do you think the media is doing a good job covering the issue of student activism and civic engagement by young people related to the issue of school shootings in the U.S.? Explain your response.
  6. How might empathy end up playing an important role in this exercise? To learn more about ways to build empathy in  your school or community, try this PBS interactive lesson here: Design Apps That Help Others and Build Empathy.
Extension activity:
  1. Take part in your own Connection Challenge at your school and share your experience with @ReportingLabs and @NewsHourExtra via Twitter. You can participate as a class or a grade or division.

2. Read NewsHour Extra’s Student Voices’ blog How teens want to solve America’s school shooting problem. Then share your class’s own solutions @NewsHourExtra via Twitter using #StudentGunReformIdeas. If you’d like to submit a 100-150 word piece about this subject, please email it to