Climate change, ocean health, rapid urbanization—each of these major global challenges are affected and exacerbated by human population growth. Population Education’s World of 7 Billion student video contest challenged students to tackle one of these topics by creating short, creative videos addressing the issue and offering at least one idea for a sustainable solution.
More than 5,500 middle and high school students submitted entries to this year’s contest—submissions came from 48 U.S. states and territories as well as countries as far flung as Singapore, Canada, South Korea, and the United Kingdom!
Now in its sixth year, the World of 7 Billion student video contest has challenged thousands of students across the globe to be more aware of the vast connections between population and the world’s most pressing challenges and to explore the complexities of these “population connections” through film.
This year’s winning students (and their amazing videos!) are:
Seventh graders Pramana Saldin, Nick Bucciarelli, Riju Dey, and Adit Gupta received first place for middle school students in the “climate change” category.
Pramana and his teammates created their video as an assignment in their Geography class. Their video, We Only Have One Planet, illustrates the correlation between increased population and high carbon dioxide levels. They suggest the use of alternative energy sources (i.e. wind and solar power) to combat population’s impact on the environment. Judges enjoyed the video and found the messaging to be “sharp and crystal clear!”
The production team knew about the human impact on climate change before they received this assignment. Pramana explained, “Humans are putting carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere and the more humans on earth means more people putting these harmful gases into the world.”
Pramana says that winning the competition was inspiring and he looks forward to joining the competition again next year.
Douah Shakshuki submitted the winning video for high school students in this category.
Douah learned of the video contest from a poster in school. Her video, Combat Climate Change, Starting with the Food We Eat, focuses on the major impact meat consumption and food transportation has on climate change.
In her video, she wanted to emphasize what individuals can do to lessen the strain food production has on the climate. “I have a vegetable garden in the summer,” Douah told us. “If I can do it, other people can do it, too.”
In her free time, Douah enjoys drawing, clay sculpting, and decorating cakes. Additionally, she has a passion for volunteering to help people in need. Her philanthropic spirit helped her win the Lt. Governor’s Respectful Citizenship Award in 2014 for raising funds for local charities and building interfaith relations in her community.
Ethan Xiong won first prize for TWO categories in this year’s contest—ocean health and rapid urbanization!
Ethan had been searching for an international video competition with little luck before finding the World of 7 Billion contest: “As soon as I found out about the contest, I was very eager to participate and start creating my videos.” Ethan’s ocean health video, What’s to Lose, suggests solutions to the problem of plastic waste in the ocean by creating barriers to collect the plastic. In his rapid urbanization video, Breaking the Chain of Pain, Ethan explores slum conditions and suggests national governments invest in education as a way to combat poverty and eliminate slums. He was moved by witnessing the slum conditions in Indonesia where his grandmother lives.
From this experience and what he’s learned while making his videos, Ethan says that he has gained a much deeper and more complete understanding of population and the effects it has on us right now, and the effects it may soon have in the future.
Maya Peters-Greño and Maya Redden were the winning high school entrants in the “ocean health” category.
In their AP Human Geography class, their teacher used the video contest guidelines for a class project on the impacts of human population, and the girls decided to enter their video into the contest. Their video, Plastic Soup, addresses how smaller plastics like microbeads are polluting the ocean.
Maya Peters-Greño, who recently moved to the U.S. from Spain, first became aware of ocean pollution while growing up in Barcelona and seeing plastic litter left on local beaches. Maya Redden likes visiting the ocean where she makes frequent snorkeling trips. They decided to focus their video on microbeads after Redden’s father shared an article with them on the topic.
In her free time, Redden is a dancer and volunteers at an interactive art museum. Peters-Greño also enjoys art but is currently focused on learning more about her new home and making new friends like Redden.
Watch Ethan Xiong’s winning video in the “rapid urbanization” category!
Seniors Emily Philips and Elizabeth Langer won in the high school division of this year’s contest.
The video began as an assignment for their AP Environmental Science class. Emily’s filmmaking experience and Elizabeth’s artistic abilities gave the girls the push they needed to create a video that was both lighthearted and informative. Their video, Urban Sprawl: An Expanding Problem, uses stop-motion and animal figurines to highlight the effects of rapid urbanization, and solutions individuals can take to alleviate the strain on the planet.
When asked why they chose this topic, Emily shared, “I think it’s something that we didn’t really know that much about and we were interested in learning more about it. It was new information and it gave me a new perspective on climate change and other environmental factors.”
Emily and Elizabeth will be graduating this spring and their summer plans include traveling around Europe before heading off to Loyola Marymount University and the University of Edinburgh, respectively.
We hope you enjoyed viewing this year’s winning videos! See all the winning videos, including the second and third place winners in each category here.
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