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The Five Best Projects from the Gates Foundation's Education Technology Competition

Here are our five favorite projects from the Gates Foundation's education technology grant competition.

On Tuesday the Gates Foundation announced 19 winners of the second phase of its Next Generation Learning Challenges grant competition. The NGLC's priority is using technology to improve college readiness among low-income students, and what makes these new grantees noteworthy is that they're working on targeting the critical seventh- through ninth-grade years—well before students can either drop out or fall too far behind in higher level math and science. Each project is also aligned with the new Common Core Standards, which are all about developing higher-order thinking skills. While all 19 grantees are noteworthy, here are five that really stand out:

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According to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, only a third of Americans can name one of the three branches of the federal government of the United States. (Executive. Judicial. Legislative. Whew! We're okay.) Now that the first woman ever to serve on the high court is off the bench, she's going back to schools around the country to preach the importance of education in civics and American history. She appeared on Good Morning America last week to discuss her effort.

Her message has a distinctly 21st century ring to it, as she's actually promoting learning about government through online education, specifically a website called iCivics.org. The internet-based games are already a part of the curriculum at Democracy Prep Charter School in Harlem, and O'Connor is trying to get all the states to adopt it as part of their standards.

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