Announcing the 2021 Catalyst Conference Award Winners!

GOA’s sixth annual Catalyst Conference brought over 400 high school students from around the world to an online conference and exhibition of student-driven action research projects. We are thrilled to highlight several student projects who earned conference awards.

The Catalyst Conference Celebrates Student Capstone Projects

The event is the culmination of a two-part learning process: part one is a student-driven research project, part two is a pubic exhibition of learning at the online conference. In preparation for the conference, participating GOA courses and courses at GOA member schools adopted the following prompt as the launch point for their research projects:

Take concepts learned and research conducted in your course to shape and live out a real-world project that aims at making an impact in a community that’s important to you.

The project requirements ask students to meet three main objectives:

  1. Generate a “beautiful question” (Warren Berger) which serves to focus research and empower students to pursue a topic of personal interest.
  2. Include student voice and perspective in the presentation of their learning. Many teachers frame this as a “for now” response that asks students to articulate an impact for their project: raising awareness of an issue in their community, promoting grassroots action, or advocating for institutional change.
  3. Engage conference visitors with a call to action.

Through this inquiry-based approach, students are able to engage with an authentic audience, gather feedback on their project, and learn from each other. The message to students is clear: You can make an impact.

This year’s student presenters came from 96 GOA member schools in 20 different countries. In addition to students from ten participating GOA courses, we welcomed students from on-campus courses at Head-Royce School, American School in Japan, The Downtown School, Savannah Country Day School, Providence Day School, Cranbrook Schools, and American International School Chennai who all participated in our three-week Catalyst Project Flex Course leading up to the conference.

Several student projects have received recognition for excellent research, the potential to spark change or create an impact in the community they identified, or the project’s overall popularity with conference visitors.

2021 Catalyst Conference Award Winners

GOA Citations

GOA Citations are awarded to the catalyst projects that best represent the goals of the conference: raising awareness, promoting grassroots action, and advocating for institutional change. This year, there were 88 projects that received citations, based on teacher nominations, recognizing an exceptional overall process from crafting the “beautiful question” to thoroughly researching and carrying out their response. Explore the projects that received GOA Citations.

Audience Award

The Audience Choice Award recognizes the student projects that capture the greatest audience attention and enthusiasm, determined by likes and comments shared on project webapges. This year’s Audience Choice Award recipients are:

Catalyst for Change Prize

The Catalyst for Change Prize is awarded to student projects that present the most compelling and inspiring case for change. These projects are identified as having the greatest potential for making an impact. The 2021 Catalyst for Change Prize recipients are:

Congratulations to all of the award recipients! We are so impressed by their impactful work and inspired by their commitment to using what they have learned to make a difference.

More resources on designing student-driven authentic assessments:

The Catalyst Project and Conference is a signature GOA learning experience for high school students. All GOA member schools are invited to participate in the project and conference. To get involved, contact us. If you are interested in learning more about designing student-driven authentic learning assessments in your own setting, please join us for one of our summer design institutes for educators.

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