Challenge.gov

Website review by
Conny Coon, Common Sense Media
Challenge.gov Website Poster Image
Problem-solving site challenges teens to innovate.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Positive Messages

Embraces the idea that a nation can collectively solve its problems, and that experts don't always have the solutions. Even teens can contribute to making the world a better place.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this federally funded website provides a safe forum for people of all ages to help solve problems or reach goals identified by various federal agencies. In an effort to find innovative solutions from the citizens, government agencies announce "challenges" on the site and open them up to the public. The challenges cover many categories, including health, science & technology, defense, and the economy. Challenges can range from super simple (design a poster, create a logo, provide an idea) to significant (develop a compelling solution to assist the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps). Challenges are open for a pre-determined length of time and then prizes (some monetary, some not) are awarded. The size of the prize varies depending on the challenge. Anyone over 13 can participate, and users can support or discuss a challenge, propose and/or vote for the best solution, and share information about challenges through social media outlets.

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Is it any good?

At CHALLENGE.GOV, the federal government takes a web-based approach to finding solutions to problems and issues that plague the nation. By providing a one-stop spot to bring together innovative thinkers, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) can tap into potential ideas and solutions from the general public. Posted challenges can be simple and thought provoking for teens, such as finding ways to reduce waste at college football games or creating a carbon monoxide safety poster. Others are extremely complex, such as suggesting a microgravity laundry system to help astronauts wash clothes in space or developing a model that catalyzes finance for small and medium enterprises. Even if your teen isn’t interested in creating solutions to the challenges posted here, it’s a fascinating, safe place to spend some time. Not only does the site provide a unique opportunity to see what issues the government and nation face regularly, but it also demonstrates how all ideas are valuable in some way.

Online interaction: Users are encouraged to click and support various challenges and vote on their preferred solutions when the challenges are made open to public voting. Challenges can be shared via Twitter, Facebook, and email. Users can choose to be notified by email and/or RSS for challenge updates.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how bringing people together to solve a common problem can work well. What are some of the positive things about getting a collection of ideas together online? The negative? When sharing ideas online, what is the proper etiquette for interacting with others?

  • Talk about how the Internet is a source for a tremendous amount of information. What are teens’ favorite things to learn online? With all of the new media available to kids today, has learning -- and teaching -- changed since our parents were in school? How can schools keep up with it?

  • Talk about what to do if someone in an online community is using inappropriate or suggestive language? What can teens do to stay safe online?

Website details

For kids who love to solve challenges

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