Students from Harvard and Stanford launched an international education challenge in March to encourage students to get involved in global issues during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Crown Education Challenge — whose name derives from the English translation of “corona” — invites elementary, middle, and high school students around the world to submit original artwork, writing, and scientific research centered around the theme of “hope during a pandemic.”

Amy Y. Jin ’22 and Stanford student Anne L. Lee founded the initiative in response to global school closures and educational disruptions caused by the rapid spread of COVID-19.

“We were looking at several different parent blogs and Facebook groups online that expressed some of the frustrations behind homeschooling and this new virtual learning that parents were now faced with,” Jin said. “So we sort of had this idea of starting a K-12 international education challenge.”

Since the pair first began brainstorming less than two weeks ago, their team has expanded to include other students from Harvard and Stanford — including David A. Paffenholz ’22 and Stanford students Yannie K. Tan, Dhruvik S. Parikh, and Adam A. Pahlavan.

“Given the current challenges created by the coronavirus, there’s a lot of education that’s not happening as regular,” Paffenholz said. “We as college students experienced that with the transition to online classes, but while it’s arguably fairly well-managed at Harvard, that is certainly not the case for the majority of schools in the U.S. nor around the world.”

The challenge’s theme of “hope during a pandemic” was inspired by the team’s aim of contributing a positive story to a news cycle “dominated by COVID-19,” Lee said.

“The whole thing about ‘hope’ is kind of two-fold here. In one sense, we want the kids to think about their own representations of hope and things that give them hope during this type of time,” Parikh said.

“For the world at large, seeing the amazing things that children and students are doing during this kind of time, we think that this could give the world itself hope during a pandemic,” he added.