Announcing! Winners of the 2015-2016 World of 7 Billion contest

Seventeen students from ten U.S. states and Belgium earned the top spots in the 2015-2016 World of 7 Billion student video contest. The winning videos were announced on May 10th and can be viewed, along with bios of the student filmmakers, online now. The contest name refers to the Earth’s population growth – we reached a global population of 7 billion in 2011 and continue to grow, exacerbating strains on our resources and adding to the social issues facing the world today.

Open to both middle and high school students, the competition challenged students to take on these environmental and social issues. They were to create short videos that “illustrate the connection between human population growth and one of three global challenges: deforestation, public health, or water scarcity.” In addition to making the population connection, each video was required to include at least one idea for a sustainable solution.

The videos had to be less than one minute in length and awards were given by topical category, with middle and high school students judged separately.

Winners in the deforestation category

High School
First place: Joanna Gerr, McLean, VA – Video title: One Stump at a Time
Second place: Victor Elgersma, Brussels, Belgium – Video title: Deforestation and Population Growth: a Visual Essay
Honorable mention: Josh Joireman, Pullman, WA – Video title: Our Job
Honorable mention: Bryan Sturm, Ventura, CA – Video title: Deforestation – A Problem For All

Middle School
First place: Holly Golightly, Noblesville, IN – Video title: Why Take it All Away?
Second place: William Griffith and Daisy Andrejco, South Orange, NJ – Video title: Habitat Loss in the Rainforest

Winners in the public health category

High School
First place: Laura Paglicawan, Sugar Land, TX – Video title: Loving Her
Second place: Mia Freund, New York, NY – Video title: Global Maternal Health
Honorable mention: Victor Elgersma, Brussels, Belgium – Video title: Public Health and Population Growth: a Visual Essay
Honorable mention: Joe Montesano, Succasunna, NJ – Video title: 7 Billion People Reducing Air Quality

Middle School
First place: Dahna Yoon, Wormleysburg, PA – Video title: Spread of Communicable Disease
Second place: Leilani Hyatt and Kayla MacPherson, Virginia Beach, VA – Video title: A step for our population

Winners in the water scarcity category

High School
First place: Jacob Furniss-Yesk and Leo Bopp, Chicago, IL – Video title: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Water
Second place: Sophia Wu, San Francisco, CA – Video title: How Water Can Change a Girl’s Life
Honorable mention: Christelle Chavannes and Dorynn Mentor, Chicago, IL – Video title: A.I.D.-R-Planet Project
Honorable mention: Philip Jones, Snellville, GA – Video title: Think

Middle School
First place: Henry Castillo, Carrollton, TX – Video title: What Would We Do Without Water?
Second place: Samantha Guerrier and Reese Thornton, Virginia Beach, VA – Video title: The More, The Less

Videos were received from 42 U.S. states—plus Puerto Rico and American Samoa—and 28 other countries with 1,983 video submissions. The scale of participation this year greatly exceeded previous years, showing how the contest has gained momentum since its inception in the 2010-2011 school year. Pam Wasserman, Vice President for Education at Population Connection, noted “we expected more videos because there was a larger potential audience with the addition of middle schoolers. But even comparing only high school submissions, we saw a 64% increase in the number of videos received.”

The contest was promoted throughout the 2015-2016 school year, opening in September with final submissions due February 25th. A panel of 47 judges, including college and high school educators, filmmakers, and professionals working in the topic fields, selected the winners.

*Visit the World of 7 Billion website for more information on the contest.
*View the winning videos and read bios of the student filmmakers.
*Want to use the contest in you classroom or share with future students? Sign-up today and you’ll receive updates and information on the 2016-2017 contest as it becomes available.