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How an Online Competition is Rallying Teens Around the World

Published June 02, 2020

By Global STEM Alliance Team

How an Online Competition is Rallying Teens Around the World

With schools closed and classes moved to online platforms due to the new coronavirus, teens around the world are faced with the challenge of staying engaged through remote schooling. In mid-March, the Academy launched, Combating COVID-19, a new innovation challenge aimed at giving teens, aged 13 to 17, the chance to build their STEM skills and participate in the global response to the new coronavirus.

In their own words, students shared why they joined the competition, what they’ve learned throughout the process, from working with teammates across the globe to celebrating a birthday with newfound friends, and more.


What motivated you to join the Combating COVID-19 challenge?

Taylor Lee, San Dieguito Academy (USA): Finding a way to combat COVID-19 is about using my interests in technology and social good to help communities around the world. It’s about finding like-minded individuals who want to make change and impact lives for the better.

Akshaya Pai, The Shriram Millennium School (India): I’ve noticed that ideas come from the most unusual places. What if I can find a solution? What if I can help change the world like I've always dreamed. Why not use this opportunity to help people?

Osaiyekemwen Ogbemudia, Valley Stream North High School (USA): Some of my relatives are “essential workers”, so I wanted to use my programming skills to better the lives of people who are on the front lines and toil every day to keep me safe. 

Alexandra Boniu, Avenor College (Romania): I wanted to push my limits and come up with new ideas and also try to work with new people from other countries. 

Noel Shaji Mathew, Excel Public School (India): If change is required, I realized that I should try putting in some effort and be the change I wish to see. I get to meet different bright minds my age and interact with them. Looking at the challenge through their eyes has helped broaden my perspective.

Arya Suneesh, Our Own English High School (United Arab Emirates): I was motivated to join because I wanted to contribute as much as I could to a COVID-19-free future. It was breaking my heart to see so many deaths and casualties and wanted to contribute in the way I could. 

Diya Garg, Newport High School (USA): COVID-19 is changing the lives of people and communities around the world. For me, and 91 percent of students, parents, and educators around the world, the challenge of adapting to learning from home is critical. The ingenuity required to transform our lifestyles is impressive. Overnight, it seems that students just like me have had to alter their definition of a classroom, while adults have had to take on the stress of maintaining or finding a job without a truly structured workplace. Students and teachers are forced to adapt on the fly to online classrooms and video sessions. Businesses have had to mobilize their services. Before this pandemic, we never fathomed that this was possible. The remote education system isn't ideal, but all the creativity to make this system possible is commendable. We need to unite to confront the consequences COVID-19 has laid out for us.


What was your favorite part of taking part in this challenge?


Rasee Kachchakaduge, Dr. Charles Best Secondary School (Canada): The ability to connect with different people around the world. It allows me to have a global perspective and see that this is a problem that the entire world is facing together, which equally means, that this can be a crisis that the world ends up solving as one. 

Skyler Basco, Sanford H. Calhoun High School (USA): I'll always cherish the close bonds and friendships that have been fostered with individuals across four time zones and countries during this challenge. In particular, my favorite event of the Combating COVID-19 challenge was when my wonderful teammates surprised me during a team call with a joyous "Happy Birthday" serenade. 

Rashik Chand, Rato Bangala School (Nepal): Getting to work with an amazing bunch of people and gaining firsthand experience about how COVID-19 was affecting them was an incredible feeling. At a time when media sensationalization and misinformation is a huge issue, having such interaction did help a lot. One particular instance comes to mind, I had just read an article regarding Sweden's approach to suppressing and mitigating the pandemic, and one of my team members is from Sweden so we ended up having a really productive discussion about how things were there while comparing and contrasting the situation here in Nepal. 

William Hou, Montgomery High School (USA): Getting to see my entire team collaborating and pitching in their own unique ideas was a refreshing experience, since I could see that they all shared the same passion and motivation. Despite the fact that we don't get to see each other in person, we probably grew closer due to our combined efforts in this challenge. 

Saif Ahmed El-said, STEM 6th October (Egypt): The best part of this competition is working together to implement the solution that we chose, staying up late to gather information and finish our project. 

Winners of the Combating COVID-19 Challenge will be announced in June 2020. Members of the grand prize team will gain automatic acceptance into The Junior Academy of the New York Academy of Sciences in Fall 2020 and will become Young Members of the Academy, which entitles them to free access to selected Academy content, a digital Membership Certificate, which is shareable on social media, and a complimentary year of full Academy Membership when they turn 18, and more.

To learn more about the Academy’s Global STEM Alliance, our STEM programming for teens, as well as professional development opportunities for educators please click here.