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From Virginia to Mexico: A Journey of Environmental Discovery and Collaboration with LUV's Global Scientists

Pembroke Meadows Elementary School, USA and Colegio Champal, Mexico


As an Instructional Technology Specialist, Lauren Pate sought ways to expand her students’ experiences beyond the confines of the traditional classroom setting. Her goal was to equip them with essential skills for the future, foster a global perspective, and cultivate empathy. Six years ago, she discovered Level Up Village (LUV) and has since facilitated connections between 1-2 classrooms each year. The impact of LUV courses on both teachers and students has been profound, reshaping their worldview. In the spring of 2024, one of the courses Lauren implemented was “Global Scientists,” focusing on vital water-related topics like pollution, scarcity, and solutions. Through hands-on experiments, students designed aquifers and water filters, empowering them to tackle real-world challenges. Two fourth-grade classes from Pembroke Meadows Elementary, where Lauren teaches, collaborated with their peers at Colegio Champal in Mexico. They exchanged video messages after each lesson, fostering cultural exchange and understanding. Initially, the focus was on sharing aspects of their respective cultures and gaining insights into daily student life. As the academic lessons and experiments progressed, the video messages evolved to include brainstorming and analysis. At the end of the project, the two schools arranged a live chat session to further enhance cultural understanding and conclude this enriching educational experience.
“Engaging in the LUV Program was an amazing learning experience, fostering creativity and problem- solving skills in our young learners. Connecting with kids from another country enriched the experience by promoting cultural understanding and collaboration. This project not only cultivated a passion for STEM but also instilled valuable global perspectives, preparing students to thrive in an interconnected world. We can’ t wait to do it again next year!”

Charlene Widel, Gifted Resource Teacher


Pembroke Meadows was looking to equip students with the following VBCPS Future Ready skills: Cross-Culturally Competent, Socially Responsible, Problem Solvers and Value Creators, and Communicators and Collaborators.


Pembroke Meadows adopted the Level Up Village virtual exchange platform, connected with a school in rural Mexico, exchanged videos about a project over 4 weeks, investigated human effects on the environment, specifically, access to clean water, and designed experiments on three different water filtration systems as solutions (aquifer, charcoal filter, desalination filter).


Pembroke Meadows students successfully designed three water filtration systems, gained a deeper understanding of how humans affect their environment and issues with access to clean water facing communications around the world, improved communication, collaboration, and digital literacy skills, and enhanced their understanding and appreciation of other cultures.

“The enthusiasm was transparent among the students. The engaging nature of the project catered to students of diverse abilities and interests. They eagerly participated in weekly activities, often stopping me in the hall to inquire about upcoming lessons or share newfound facts about aquifers from their water bottle labels during lunch.”

Lauren Pate


This inquiry-based learning approach seamlessly integrates real-world skills with cross-curricular connections. From literacy components tied to research, to geographical knowledge acquired about another country, and the interactive experience of product design and building, the students engaged in a multifaceted learning journey. By the project’s conclusion, they demonstrated increased cultural awareness and content knowledge, transitioning from novice to proficient learners