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EF Honors Winners of Annual Glocal Challenge

Jupiter Westbard, Contributing Writer

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Since 2015, the Glocal Challenge has been an event that encourages high-school students to do something good for the community, whether related to the environment, the economy, or anything in between. In previous years, the Glocal Challenge has enabled students to implement programs that are made to benefit the Cambridge community in some way. Every year, the Glocal facilitators choose a theme for the city-wide challenge.

Similarly to last year’s focus on sustainability, the theme of this year’s Glocal Challenge was how climate change impacts the city. For the duration of the project, 60 students participated in the challenge, working in nine groups.

Each developed a creative, original idea for dealing with climate change. From November until January, each group researched and crafted their plan until it was ready for the panel of judges. The five finalist teams, which the facilitators announced a few weeks ago, created projects to educate citizens about the effects of climate change, such as informing Cambridge residents about rising sea levels.

In designing the projects, all teams strove to meet specific criteria, including feasibility, creativity, impact, and sticking to a budget. One team created an original cartoon superhero, “Captain Change,” the mascot of a citywide campaign to teach Cambridge how to adapt to a changing climate. Other teams created art installations that depicted rising sea levels, as well as a virtual reality presentation of the effects of heat and flooding caused by global warming. Last but not least, the fifth finalist team planned to create an online board game for elementary school students designed to educate them about the effects of climate change on the city.

“I thought it was cool that people from the community got to come in, like it was a real presentation.””

On January 22nd, all nine teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges at the headquarters of Education First (EF). Shortly afterward, the judges chose four finalist teams. The fifth team was chosen by popular vote the next day in a social event involving Cambridge residents.

Sophia Price ’21, a member of the team “No Back Up Plan(et),” said of the final event, “I thought it was cool that people from the community got to come in, like it was a real presentation. It was also fun to present to my family and to the families of other groups.”

After the community presentations, the second half of the event took place in a large auditorium. Each of the five finalist teams presented one last time to a panel of judges, and shortly afterward, the winner was chosen. The group that won, team “Climate Change Impact Attack,” created a zoetrope—a series of images, which, when people walk by, create a sort of animation, in this case depicting flooding in Cambridge. This particular zoetrope was designed to be placed in a T Station in Cambridge to emphasize rising sea levels both to citizens of Cambridge and visitors.

According to Leo Austin-Spooner ’21, one of the Glocal finalists on the team “No Backup Plan(et),” the Glocal coordinators surprised the participants by announcing that all five teams would be going on a trip to Panama in addition to receiving a paid internship and seed money. Kenny Figueroa ’19, a member of the “Lifeguards” team, said that “it was kind of surreal” to find out that after all the hard work he and his group had done to develop their project that they would get to go on the trip, even though they didn’t win first place.

For years, the Glocal Challenge has not only inspired high schoolers to promote change through interactive citywide projects, but it has prompted city officials to consider developing some of the previous winners’ ideas into possible tangible projects. Price concluded, “I liked that it was about climate change—it’s a pressing issue today, and I think it’s good we got the chance to tackle that.”


This piece also appear in our February 2019 print edition.

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EF Honors Winners of Annual Glocal Challenge