Population Education, June 2023

Written by Maria Seitz, Student Engagement Fellow | Published: June 12, 2023

Viewing the World Through a Lens of 8 Billion

Winners of the 2022–2023 World of 8 Billion Student Video Contest Announced

This year, we officially changed the name of our student video contest from World of 7 Billion to World of 8 Billion to reflect the world population hitting 8 billion in November 2022. The name change came with a newly designed website (worldof8billion.org).

Each year, we select three new global challenges for students to tackle. This year’s topics were climate change, gender equality, and waste. Students were asked to make a 60-second video that explains one of the global challenges and how it connects to a growing population. They were also tasked with identifying a sustainable solution to the challenge addressed in their chosen topic.

For the 2022–2023 school year, the contest’s 12th year, approximately 4,800 students from 47 states and territories and 45 countries created over 3,100 videos!

In order to help the students create their videos, we developed a brand new project organizer that guides them step-by-step through the video making process. We also provided filmmaking tips, background research and readings, and a judging rubric. For teachers, we included classroom lessons to set students’ foundation for the video topics.

Videos were initially judged by the Population Education staff to narrow the field of finalist entries sent to our panel of 56 esteemed judges consisting of educators, business owners, journalists, filmmakers, and topic experts. The judges then scored the finalists to determine our 18 winning videos. High school winners received $1,200 for first place, $600 for second place, and $300 for an honorable mention. Middle school winners received $600 for first place and $300 for second place.

We were truly blown away by the quality of content and creativity we saw in the videos this year. The students’ ingenuity and thoughtfulness in addressing their chosen problems, such as greenhouse gases, electronic waste, and education inequality were inspiring. View this year’s winners at worldof8billion.org/winners-2023!


1st Place, High School

“Better Batteries for a Better Future”
Sophia Rico, Grade 10
Legacy of Educational Excellence High School
San Antonio, Texas

Sophia has always been interested in how battery technology could help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and was surprised, when researching for the contest, that there weren’t many articles on the topic. She is interested in continuing to learn about how aluminum ion batteries can mitigate climate change. Sophia plans to become an electrical or materials engineer in the future.

2nd Place, High School

“Reducing Emissions With Direct Air Capture”
Arnav Bali, Grade 9
South River High School
Edgewater, Maryland

Arnav is a three-time winner of our student video contest and continues to participate because he enjoys the challenge. It also provides him with an opportunity to showcase his new ideas and filming techniques. He shared that “climate change impacts all of us, and its solutions require a lot of resources, which is a great way to bring us together.”

1st Place, Middle School

“Earth’s Fate on Your Plate”
Eera Deshpande, Grade 8 Hidden Oaks Middle School
Prior Lake, Minnesota

Eera focused her video on the connections between raising livestock and climate change, in part because of the book Eat for the Planet, which she read last year. Eera was stunned to find out how much more water and land are needed to grow livestock than the amount of water and land needed to grow vegetables. She really enjoyed the “learning along the way aspect” of this project and looking back on how far she’s come since she first started it.

2nd Place, Middle School

“Monitoring Climate Injustice”
Jade Lan, Grade 6 Coleytown Middle School
Westport, Connecticut

Jade decided to participate in the contest after one of her teachers encouraged all of the 7th graders at her school to create a video. She was interested in producing a video on climate change because she knew it was shaping our world significantly. After reading a New York Times article about a young Houston family losing their home to a weather-related natural disaster, Jade made the decision to focus her video on environmental justice.


1st Place, High School

“Close the Gap: Gender Inequality and Labor”
Maria Aurelio, Grade 12
Olympia High School
Olympia, Washington

Maria knew a little bit about how population and gender equality intersected before creating her video, but she really valued the learning opportunities presented by this experience. As someone planning on going into the health care field, and as an active member of her high school’s equity team, Maria is always interested in learning more about how different fields intersect with one another.

2nd Place, High School

“Call the Shots on Menstrual Inequality”
Arianna Prado Calvo, Jimena Chacón González, and María Fernanda Zeballos Llerena, Grade 9
Golden Valley School
San Isidro, Heredia, Costa Rica

Arianna, Jimena, and María were interested in gender equality because of a bill introduced in the Costa Rican legislative assembly to reduce the tax on feminine hygiene products. They said that the current tax is hard for many Costa Ricans to afford, and they wanted to shine a light on the issue. The three friends are working on a plan with their social responsibility committee at school to stay involved.

1st Place, Middle School

“Child Marriage”
Alice Feng and Eva Chen, Grade 8
Eastside Preparatory School
Kirkland, Washington

Alice and Eva saw everyone in their class choosing the other contest topics and seized the opportunity to make their video stand out, while learning about the ties between gender equality and population. Through their research, the subtopic of child marriage kept recurring. They felt moved to talk about it and the inequality women face that leads to them having more children. Their original artwork illustrates the role education can play breaking this cycle of gender inequality.

2nd Place, Middle School

“Reproductive Rights”
Adelaide Hobor and Hazel Boerger, Grade 7
South Orange Middle School
South Orange, New Jersey

Addy and Hazel were interested in gender equality because it was the most relevant to their lives. They didn’t realize just how much it overlapped with the topic of population growth! All of the recent events happening in the U.S. surrounding women’s reproductive rights inspired them to make a video on the topic. This was their first time making a video, and they found the process to be challenging but fun.


1st Place, High School

“Creating a Circular Food Industry”
Lara Orlandi, Grade 11
St. Paul’s Girls’ School
London, England, United Kingdom

Lara had an overall picture of the social and environmental impacts of population growth but didn’t know how population growth related to food waste in particular. When talking about the research for creating her video, she said, “It made me more hopeful by watching other people’s solutions about how to mitigate challenges and create solutions to impact the future.”

2nd Place, High School

“Our Fashion Footprint”
Stella Abarca, Grade 10
Plainfield East High School
Plainfield, Illinois

Stella used clothing to create visuals in this powerful, stop-motion video that emphasizes ways to reduce our clothing consumption. She has always been interested in population growth and its impacts and was “shocked to learn about the impact of fast fashion because it is often underestimated.” Stella wanted to create a video to help educate people on alternatives.

1st Place, Middle School

“E-waste: a Golden Opportunity”
Surya Arunkumar, Grade 8
Pearson Ranch Middle School
Austin, Texas

Surya saw clear ties between population growth and increasing electronic waste. He felt that a lot of attention is given to technology’s negative impacts on our mental health but not to the consequences our devices have on our physical health through the toxins e-waste releases into the air, water, and soil. Surya found that there was a clear need for a safe way to extract valuable resources from e-waste, as the current methods of extraction cause a lot of harm to people.

2nd Place, Middle School

“E-waste: the Growing Problem and Solutions for a Sustainable Future”
Benjamin Kurian, Grade 7
Olentangy Liberty Middle School
Powell, Ohio

This is the second year that Ben has placed in our student video contest. He participated again because he really loved the process of creating a video. “It was fun, especially editing and filming.” He was drawn to the topic of e-waste because the majority is not recycled properly, and it is a challenge that will continue to grow with an increasing population.

High School Honorable Mentions

“Setting a Cap to Climate Change”
Ryan Lee, Grade 11
Issaquah High School
Issaquah, Washington

“Mass Transit: The Express Train to Sustainability”
Roberto Quesada, Grade 12 Brooklyn Technical High School
Brooklyn, New York

“Women With Water”
Tammy Nguyen and Ella Stack, Grade 10
Loyola Sacred Heart High School
Missoula, Montana

“Girls Can Learn Too”
Bisola Akintunde, Grade 9
Crestwood School
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

“Composting: Build Your Solution to Food Waste”
Yoonseo Kim and Hyunseo Kim, Grade 10
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Aurora, Illinois

“Look Up to Feeding 8 Billion”
Grace Puma, Grade 11
Princess Anne High School
Virginia Beach, Virginia