2020 Catalyst Conference Award Winners Announced

Conferences everywhere are being cancelled and postponed or, in some cases, moved online. At GOA we’ve run the Catalyst Conference, an online conference for high school students, for five years. At the core of the conference: young people aim to make a difference in their local communities by researching and acting on a problem worthy of attention. These projects raise awareness, promote grassroots actions, and advocate for institutional change. How this endeavor happens takes varied forms, as students launch their projects from content in classes, including Positive Psychology, Climate Change and Global Inequality, Game Theory, Bioethics, and several others. Further, their approaches to inspiring local change are diverse, especially because the nature and needs of the problems they explore are as well.

This year the student presenters came from 76 GOA member schools, which reside in 18 different countries and 27 states in the United States. In addition to hundreds of students from GOA courses, we welcomed tenth grade United States History students from founding GOA member Head-Royce School in Oakland, CA, who used the conference as a capstone for their Catalyst for Change project. At a time when we face great uncertainty and ambiguity, given the global economic and health crisis, the “beautiful questions” (Warren Berger) that served as both the titles and the focus for all projects were inspiring and provocative. A few examples:

What are the impacts of food waste and food insecurity during the coronavirus crisis?

How might digital tools change how students are graded?

Segregation is “legally dead but factually alive”: how can we combat gentrification?

GOA Citations

Project by Jenna, West Point Grey Academy (British Columbia, Canada)

Of the 356 projects, 77 received GOA citations, an award that comes from teacher nominations and that recognizes an exemplary project process, which includes careful, thorough research and excellent crafting of a beautiful question and an original and well considered response. Explore the projects that received GOA citations.

Audience Choice Award

Project by Megan, Head-Royce School (California, USA)

The Audience Choice Award goes to projects that capture the greatest audience attention and enthusiasm, as revealed by views and likes by conference participants. The following projects received widespread and enthusiastic attention from participants:

Catalyst for Change Prize

Project by Taggert, Blake School (Minnesota, USA)

The Catalyst for Change Prize goes to student projects that present the most compelling and inspiring case for change. Given that the heart of the conference is local change, this award recognizes student learning focused on responding to real-world challenges in local communities. Six projects received the Catalyst for Change Prize:

At a time when across the world we all face new and daunting challenges, each of these student projects presents inspiring ways that young people are seeking to make a difference. We invite you to spend time with these projects on the conference website. The Catalyst Conference is part of the GOA student experience, which brings students from around the world together in passion-based online classes.

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