World Smarts STEM Challenge (WSSC)

World Smarts STEM Challenge (WSSC)

Teacher and students standing in front of table conducting an experiment

The World Smarts STEM Challenge (WSSC) is a virtual exchange program that supports STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in the United States and Ghana. 8th – 12th grade students in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia and senior secondary school students from across Ghana come together virtually to solve global issues facing their communities related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.   

The program improves STEM skills, strengthens cross-cultural communication, and develops global competence while enhancing students’ enthusiasm and commitment to STEM learning and careers. Upon completion of the challenge, students will receive community service hours, membership to the New York Academy of Sciences, and a certificate of completion from IREX.    

Teachers in the U.S. and Ghana will partner via a virtual platform to co-lead a binational team of students through the challenge. Teachers are responsible for facilitating the research, design, and testing of students' innovative STEM prototype.   

 The World Smarts STEM Challenge is funded by the National Science Foundation and is part of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers applied research program. WSSC is implemented by IREX with partnership from North Carolina State University and Karen Peterman Consulting.  

Become a World Smarts Mentor

IREX is currently recruiting educators to serve as mentors to lead World Smarts STEM Challenge teams. For more information on how to apply, please see below:

Eligibility Requirements:    

  • Current 8th-12th grade  educator at a public or charter school in Washington D.C., Maryland, or Virginia

  • Senior Secondary School educator at a Ghana public school

Mentor Responsibilities  

  • Recruit a gender-balanced and diverse team of students within their respective  schools to form their country team;
  •  Lead a team of approximately 8 students as 1/2 of a bi-national team;  
  • Participate in a 3-day workshop on implementing the World Smarts Curriculum, cross-cultural training, technology implementation, and virtual project-based learning; 
  • Collaborate effectively with their co-mentor in the US or Ghana to coach their binational team and complete the challenge milestones together; 
  •  Connect with IREX staff on ongoing communications and support, including weekly coaching, sending of testimonials and anecdotes, and photographs; 
  •  Encourage and ensure that the team completes the challenge milestones and submits all requirements, including collection of survey data; 
  •  Manage and implement the team’s virtual and in-person instruction and collaboration throughout the challenge; 

The mentor will be responsible for ensuring that the team:   

  • Collaborates with their binational teammates throughout the program via Canvas to develop their STEM solution and complete all program milestones such as problem and solution statement, mind-mapping, and prototype development; 
  • Submits a STEM Prototype Presentation and Video Pitch, which will be showcased in the Virtual Global STEM Exhibit; 
  • Attends the Virtual Global STEM Expo to pitch their solution to a panel of industry professionals and guests; 

Benefits for Mentors

  •  Financial stipend for technology and prototype materials;   
  •  Full developed program guide;
  • Dedicated staff support, including weekly, one-on-one coaching sessions from IREX throughout the challenge
  • A certificate for professional development hours in Virtual Project-Based Learning; 
  •  Local and global networking opportunities;  
  • Skills development in facilitating global citizenship and innovation; 

Timeline and Time Commitment

Mentors will be expected to contribute 2-4 hours per week  

November 2022: Mentor Selection and Registration

December 2022 – January 2023: Mentor Training and Student Recruitment   

January – April 2023: 10-week STEM Challenge 

April 2023: Virtual Global STEM Exhibit & Expo  

How to Apply 

Click the button to start your application:



For more information, contact