Austin students write pen pals about election, key issues


    Students at a Round Rock ISD school are learning about key issues by connecting with students all across the country. (CBS Austin)

    Voters aren't the only ones doing their research before a new president is elected. Students at a Round Rock ISD school are learning about key issues by connecting with students all across the country.

    At Deer Park Middle School, Mrs. Pazos' sixth graders are studying up for Election Day. Monday's topic is healthcare. Students learn the basics and share opinions with each other.

    "Should the government help people make choices about their health?" Mrs. Pazos asked.

    But the sharing doesn't stop within the walls of the classroom. With their iPads in hand, students discuss the same issues with students across the country -- their pen pals.

    "They both think Hillary is going to win," sixth grader Luke Svoboda says of his pen pals. Svoboda's pen pals are Gabriel and Nigel.

    Sixth grader Gray Poore's pen pals live in Seattle and Chicago.

    "It seems like in Austin a lot of people have the same opinion on who they want for president and all that, but across the country it was very different," says Poore.

    Throughout the school year they've talked about environmental issues, immigration and education.

    "They have a lot of different opinions," Poore says.

    "The pen pal is way to get them engaged and excited," says Joe Troyen, founder and CEO of PenPal Schools. Their courses are taught in 170 countries around the world.

    "PenPal Schools is a way to learn about other cultures and ways of life and to also really share perspectives on issues that affect us all," says Troyen.

    "It's really fun. I get to see peoples' decisions across the country and what they think and I really like it," adds Svoboda.

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