It’s that time of year again when we announce the winners of the World of 7 Billion (W7B) student video contest. Now in its sixth year, the contest continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year we received a record 2,913 entries with over 5,500 student participants—a nearly 50-percent increase over last year. The contest has become a truly international event, attracting entries from 45 countries (including 48 U.S. states and territories and six Canadian provinces).
W7B has drawn a loyal following among middle and high school science and social studies teachers who assign it to help build their students’ research and communication skills around critical global issues. This year’s contest themes—climate change, ocean health, and rapid urbanization—presented plenty of possibilities for classroom learning.
As in past years, students were challenged to create a short video (up to 60 seconds) that connects one of the given themes to human population growth, and also includes sustainable solutions. We encouraged students to focus their videos on a subtheme (e.g. coral bleaching or overfishing for ocean health) to tighten their message. To help students begin their research, we provided background readings and links to other sources.
A panel of 33 judges, including college and high school educators, filmmakers, and professionals working in the topic fields, selected the winners. For high school contestants, first place winners in each category received $1,000, second place winners received $500, and honorable mentions received $250. Middle school winners received $500 for first place and $250 for second place.
One of the highlights for our staff each year is interviewing the winners and finding out about the inspirations for their videos. Common to most of the winners is a personal connection to one of the contest themes. One student based his urban sprawl video on the smog he sees over the winter skyline in his hometown of Salt Lake City. Another was motivated by the overfishing off his island near the Korean peninsula.
Earlier this spring, we sent surveys to all of the students who submitted videos to get their valuable feedback on their participation. This year, we asked them if they’d be interested in engaging in some kind of activism. Of the nearly 1,000 survey responses, a full 70 percent indicated an interest in doing more. The most popular choices? Volunteering for a non-profit (65 percent), sharing their newfound knowledge on social media (55 percent), and starting/joining a school environmental or global perspectives club (49 percent). In the coming months, our PopEd team will work on a toolkit to support teens in these initiatives.
High School First Place Winners
Douah Shakshuki: Climate Change
Maya Redden and Maya Peters Greño: Ocean Health
Elizabeth Langer and Emily Phillips: Rapid Urbanization
Middle School First Place Winners
Pramana Saldin’s Team: Climate Change
Ethan Xiong: Ocean Health and Rapid Urbanization
High School Second Place Winners
Rockaway, New Jersey
Northampton, United Kingdom
Middle School Second Place Winners
Claire Knutsen, Julia Loritz, and Tae Ellisen
Aurelio Santiago and Michael Smith
Lumeria So, Zorina Holod, and Grace Kelley
Long Beach, California
High School Honorable Mentions
Carrie Hu and Julia Henry
SooMin Hwangbo and Faith Moon Hwang
Yongin, South Korea
Pete Kim, Jason Tark, and Henry Ko
Jeju-Si, South Korea
Katie Krofta and Rose Krofta
Sawyer Nunley and Jeff Morales
Salt Lake City, Utah
Ethan Taylor, Jeffery Whitmire, and Gavin Meeker
Mineral Bluff, Georgia