What started as a way to commemorate the “7 billion” milestone in 2011 has turned into an annual, international event, engaging students and teachers worldwide to “make the population connection” through moving messages.
This year’s contest saw a sharp rise in entries—1,983 (more than double last year’s contest), with over 3,800 students participating. Part of this increase can be attributed to opening the contest up to middle school students this year. But even among high school students, we received 64 percent more entries than last year, with many more teachers using it as a class assignment to engage their students on critical global issues central to both environmental science and social studies curricula. Videos were submitted from schools in 28 countries and 42 states plus Puerto Rico and American Samoa.
For the 2015-16 contest we focused on three global challenges: deforestation, public health, and water scarcity. Students were challenged to create a short video (up to 60 seconds) about human population growth that highlights one of these challenges. To be viable contenders, videos had to include connections to population growth and at least one idea for a sustainable solution. Because the challenges were broad, we also offered some subthemes to help students narrow their focus, and suggested resources and background readings to start their research.
Earlier this spring, we sent surveys to all of the students who submitted videos to get their valuable feedback on their participation and to help us craft future contests. One survey question asked them about their choice of topics. Many mentioned first-hand experiences with their film subject:
“We are experiencing the Southern California drought so we thought that it would be a great idea to spread awareness about the problem.”
“Deforestation is a really huge issue everywhere, including the country we live in (Nicaragua). We wanted to express ourselves and our concern in every way possible, and we thought this would help. Even the smallest candle can bring light to a dark room.”
A panel of 45 judges, including college and high school educators, filmmakers, and professionals working in the topic fields, selected the winners. Winners received certificates and cash prizes.
You can view this year’s winning entries, along with the students’ photos and bios on our contest website, www.WorldOf7Billion.org.
High School—2nd Place
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Middle School—2nd Place
South Orange, NJ
Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach, VA
Joe Morris Montesano