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Resources to get students thinking strategically

It’s September, which means it’s time not only for pumpkin-spiced everything, but also … it’s International Strategic Thinking Month! Of course, here at The Tech Interactive, we recognize the importance of strategic thinking year-round, but we’re always down to celebrate brain power, so let’s dive into some of our favorite lessons!

We’ve found that students often do their best strategic thinking when tackling one of our Systems Design Challenges. These challenges present learners with a real-world problem, like delivering a vaccine to a remote area or determining the viability of a new green tech product in their local community. Their decisions have lots of ripple effects because they’re part of a complex system. Students examine all the intricate parts of that problem as they design potential solutions.

First, check out our NEW Systems Design Challenges video series for educators to see these challenges in action. These four videos will guide you through the entire process and provide useful tips for implementation in any setting.

Then choose one of our systems design resources and start incorporating them into your classroom:

1. Connecting with Climate – Explore how to problem-solve when approaching large-scale, multidimensional issues like climate change. Lesson plan
2. Emerging Tech – Examine environmental issues through the lens of four emerging technologies then consider the challenges these technologies might face if they were adopted in your own community. Working in teams, students will develop both a potential solution and a pitch to address possible challenges. Lesson plan
3. Data Challenge – Analyze how innovators like our Tech for Global Good laureates use data as a tool to solve problems and effect change. Students will then work in groups to create a plan for collecting and using data to address a problem in their own sphere of influence. Lesson plan and videos
4. Vaccine Distribution Challenge – Consider the complexities of infrastructure, public health and sociocultural landscapes in designing a solution to distribute a life saving vaccine. Lesson plan and videos
5. Save the Species Challenge – Develop a solution that assists governments in protecting species in designated areas. Lesson plan and videos
6. And more! – Go to to find even more resources, including a series of videos and lessons inspired by our Tech for Global Good Program. Developed in partnership with Discovery Education, these resources include: AI Inclusiveness, Medical Supply Availability, Organizing Activism, and The World’s Water Problem.
By the end of a systems design challenge, students are able to articulate a potential solution, the real-world problem it addresses, and the effects their idea might have on other components of that larger system. Through the process, learners build the skills they need to tackle the world’s toughest problems.
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