Professor Fate
The Great Leslie
Maggie DuBois

Push the button, Max!

Professor Fate was always shouting, "Push the button, Max!" in the movie, The Great Race (1965). This comedy was loosely based upon an actual event, The Great Race of 1908. The movie starred Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, Tony Curtis as The Great Leslie, Natalie Wood as the suffragette, Maggie DuBois, and Peter Falk as Max, the wonderful sidekick of Professor Fate.

The Great Race – a Global Collaborative Classroom Project

This project stands to be the largest, highest quality, most relevant, global collaborative classroom project to date. Initiated by Anne Shaw, Director of 21st Century Schools, this project is more than just an e-pen pals project between two or three classrooms; students from around the world will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a significant historic event, collaborating and conducting research on issues important to humanity and questions that matter.

The topic itself, a record-breaking, global automobile race, immediately grabs the attention of students and teachers. This curriculum is real-world, project-based, interdisciplinary, relevant and definitely rigorous. 21st Century Schools and the members of The Great Race Project Advisory Board will be providing participating schools with free assistance in curriculum and instruction through The Great Race Wiki and the free Great Race Virtual Classroom, where participants from around the world can meet live and in real time, collaborate in meeting rooms and breakout rooms, see and hear each other, share desktops, work on collaborative whiteboards, view videos and PowerPoint presentations, and visit web sites. These sessions will be recorded and saved for later viewing by others in the project.

This project will begin in April of 2008. Participants may join the project at any time, since it will be an ongoing project through the next school year, although some schools may elect to participate for a shorter time period. They will still be able to benefit from the global, technological, historic research-based experience, and they will still be able to create quality products during the current school year.

Key Words: project-based, real-world, relevant, historically significant, multicultural, global, 21st century technologies, interdisciplinary, authentic assessment, service learning, virtual classroom, videoconferencing, exceeding the standards, student motivation.

The Great Race of 2008

An auto race from New York City to Paris, France! The purpose of the race is twofold: 1.) To celebrate the centennial of the greatest auto race in history, The Great Race of 1908, which holds world records to this day, and 2.) to add momentum to the auto industry’s campaign to push renewable fuels. Entrants are encouraged to display any new automotive technologies that could be showcased in the Great Race.

According to the organizer of this significant historical event, Bill Ewing, Chief Executive Officer of Great Race Sports, Inc., "Private teams, manufacturers and educational institutions from countries around the world are taking up the challenge. What we’ve created – and I’m very proud of this — is a unique opportunity for engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and institutions to showcase their ideas and designs.”

The Student Project – It’s Green and More!

Anne Shaw, founder and Director of 21st Century Schools is the initiator of this global collaborative classroom project. ( or

The Great Race Curriculum - We are designing a real-world, project-based, interdisciplinary curriculum framework that may be adapted for any grade level or subject area. Use the Great Race Curriculum Wiki to explore possibilities for student participation, projects and final product ideas. Although it is interdisciplinary, you are not required to participate in the project in every discipline. We understand that many teachers do not teach every discipline.

Teachers and students around the world will collaborate with each other through our wiki, The Great Race Wiki, thus forming our interdisciplinary, project team. Students will be conducting independent, self-directed and interdependent research. They will also be interviewing experts from many fields, from automotive to zoology, at universities, industries, museums, the media and more from countries around the world.

We would like the students to do the following as part of their research documenting this event and connecting it to history as well as issues of today and the future:
  1. Conduct thorough background and related research
    1. During pre-race period (now through May 30) – so they will have foundation of knowledge when following the race
    2. During the race – document events during the race itself, collaborating with students from countries around the world, along the race route and elsewhere. Interview race participants, witnesses/observers of the race, researching media coverage of the event including newspapers, television and videos.
    3. Post-race – utilize information gained prior to and during the race to create documentaries, photo essays, articles, etc., which will serve as a living museum or historical archive.
  2. Interview experts at universities, museums, and industries.
  3. Interview teams prior to, during and after the race - correspond with teams during the race via email, text messaging, and sending photos and videos via cell phones and email. (for those teams that are willing to participate in our project.)
  4. Follow the teams through GPS as well as via “ham” or amateur radio.
  5. Investigate connections in all disciplines, connecting to the national standards in education for their country.
  6. Create community events such as :
    1. Local, state or national races of other types: these may be real, virtual, or simulated.
    2. Present student-made products to the community, for example, film festivals of student-made films.
  7. Utilize cutting-edge 21st century technologies in their research and in development of their products.
  8. Conduct analyses of environmental issues which result in predictions for the future, recommendations to solve problems, and creation of innovations as agents of environmental change.
  9. Conduct analyses of other topics and issues which derive from the theme of The Great Race - New York City to Paris.
  10. Present quality products to museums, archives and other institutions in countries around the world.

This level of participation in the event will provide students with excellent real-world experiences in the use of multiple 21st century technologies, a deep knowledge and understanding of the sciences and mathematics, especially related to energy, the environment, and inventions/innovation.

It provides an exceptional opportunity to collaborate in a meaningful way with people around the world as they conduct research and create products on a level of quality to be presented to the world as their audience. Your students will become educational historians, documenting history as it happens, and connecting it to the past and the future. This project also provides them opportunities to create positive change for the environment.

Follow-through, Follow-up and Offshoot Projects for summer and the next school year are being planned. Since the race ends in Paris on August 2, students who participated in the pre-race research and who followed the race and participated in The Great Race Wiki through the summer, will be conducting post-race research, then using their information to create final products.

Authentic Assessment - Their Audience – the World! Student projects will be submitted to organizations such as the Smithsonian Museum, the American Library of Congress and other museums and archives in countries around the world, thus adding to the knowledge that exists in the world.

Service Learning - Service learning is another important component of this project through the creation of historical, living archives, mini-documentaries and films related to the overall theme, and projects in which the students become agents of environmental change. Other service learning projects may include products such as public service announcements; environmental community events; taking action to get laws implemented or changed; designing, caring for and utilizing garden projects; city beautification projects and much, much more.

Multicultural and Global - The race route goes through 13 countries in this order: United States, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland and France. So far teams entering the race represent Australia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Ireland, Mexico, Poland and the United States of America. There will be a total of 40 teams competing. Students from countries all over the world will be collaborating with each other as well as race teams, universities, museums, media experts and more.

This project represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your students to participate in a significant historic event and a chance to connect the curriculum, all disciplines, to a real-life, global, 21st century, multicultural experience.

NCLB and Connecting to the Disciplines

While the basis for this curriculum is a significant historic event, The Great Race of 2008 from New York City to Paris, France, there will be an almost infinite number and variety of projects students can do connected to this theme.

With the assistance of many experts from our The Great Race Project Advisory Board students can design and participate in projects and create authentic products focusing on everything from automobiles to architecture, cultural studies, media studies, literature, science fiction projects, filmmaking, multiculturalism and globalization, philosophy, law and ethics, music, art, dance, to a variety of “green” or environmental projects and service learning.

Disciplines connecting to this project include Art, Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Algebra, Geometry, Basic math for K-8, Language Arts, Physical Fitness, Geography, World History, Career Education, Civics, Economics, Foreign Languages, Health, Technology and more.

Students participating in project-based, problem-based, research-driven, curriculum that is connected to real life, is relevant and rigorous are highly motivated which results in higher levels of learning, actual understanding, and higher test scores. See the supporting research.

Multiple Literacies addressed include, but are not limited to, aural literacy, visual literacy, media literacy, financial literacy, multicultural literacy, ecoliteracy, emotional literacy, cyberliteracy, technological literacy, health and physical fitness literacy, and information literacy.

21st century technologies will be a large part of this project. Students will be utilizing and learning about a variety of technologies, from videoconferencing, to GPS, virtual reality, video game design, photography, videography, filmmaking, web design, wiki design and participation, podcasting, blogging and much more.

Who and How? The Educational Information and Research Center (EIRC) is working on this project with 21st Century Schools. The EIRC is in the process of building the newest NASA Challenger Center for Space Science Education; the building will be 100% green. Project Director, John Henry, serves on The Great Race Advisory Board.

The Automotive High School in New York City is the first school to register for participation. Two members of their staff, Joe Ferrari and Tommy Cassino, are serving on The Great Race Advisory Board. This faculty is strongly focused on project-based learning, interdisciplinary curriculum, full integration of the academics with the automotive courses, and finally, is devoted to environmental projects. Established in 1937 this school has been award-winning since its inception in 1937. Their projects have been featured in a short film, with recent screenings at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and the 2006 Sundance Summit, a mayor’s gathering on Climate Protection hosted by ICLEI and Robert Redford. They have also been featured in various news media regarding their environmental Grease Car Project, in which the students are converting cars to run on used vegetable oil.

Pete Border, Ph.D. represents physics, mathematics, art, and video game design. Mark Swiger of John Marshall High School in Glen Dale, West Virginia is an expert in PBL (problem-based learning), staff development, and curriculum design and currently teaches Honors World History, Civics and Personal Finance.

Having just begun to invite members to the Advisory Board as of Dec. 31, 2008, it is continuing to develop. We anticipate having experts in the environment, physical fitness, all disciplines, media studies, filmmaking, television production, emotional intelligence, multiple intelligences, as well as representatives from various museums, universities, organizations and industries around the world serving on our board.

Who May Participate
K-12 educators, university students and professors, and experts from various industries and organizations may participate. All will be approved for participation by the Advisory Board of The Great Race Project.

Participant Fees
$0.00 No fees to participating schools!

We are very excited about this event, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime significant event that students would greatly enjoy. They will gain exponentially in their knowledge and understanding of what they can do as learners and citizens of a global, 21st century world. And they would have the opportunity to participate in an important historical event.

Contact Information
Contact Anne Shaw at 21st Century Schools.
Register your school to participate in the event at: