Catalyst Conference Student Award Winners Announced!

Last week, Global Online Academy hosted its third annual Catalyst Conference, featuring student presentations from over 400 students, attending 60+ schools, occupying 12 countries. The conference is a global, online event for students in the GOA consortium to share projects designed to spark change in their communities. Each presentation is the culmination of a capstone project that asked students to transform learning from their courses into research-based solutions for real-world issues.  This year’s conference was a huge success, drawing over 4,500 visitors in the last week who racked up nearly 50,000 page views and left over 2,500 comments on student work.

In a year when student voice has a newfound momentum, student Catalyst projects with messages intended to spark change, raise awareness, and promote grassroots actions gained traction and prompted conversations like we haven’t seen before. Among the several hundred student presentations, a few stood out as exceptional and were awarded commendations.

GOA has three categories of commendations: GOA Citation, the Audience Award, and the Catalyst for Change Prize.

GOA Citations were awarded to exemplary presentations that Global Online Academy and participating member school faculty determined best represent the goals of the conference: 1) Raising awareness, 2) Promoting grassroots action, 3) Promoting institutional change. You can see a list of the 95 presentations that received GOA Citations here.

The Audience Awards are awarded to presentations that capture the buzz of conference attendees by generating the most audience engagement. The following three students captured the attention of conference visitors, acquiring over 200 likes and dozens of comments:

Finally, the Catalyst for Change Prize is the most prestigious prize at the Catalyst Conference, and reserved for a small number of presentations. A panel of recruited advocacy experts and organizations reviewed and awarded the Catalyst for Change Prize to eight presentations that demonstrated exceptional thoughtfulness, planning, and potential for enduring change. Panel experts used the conference presentation rubric to guide their evaluation. In addition to a badge on their presentation and GOA public promotion, recipients of this award are granted an opportunity to consult with an expert on the panel in the field of social change about the ways to further this project or seek guidance on a new idea their Catalyst Presentation has sparked. GOA proudly celebrates the following students as 2018 Catalyst for Change Prize recipients (in no particular order):

  • Sara Covin received a Catalyst for Change Prize for her presentation for Head-Royce School’s on-campus course US History: Problem Solving Past & Present titled, An IOU for Women: The Disparity in Pay between Men and Women Since 1930. One of the panelists reviewing this presentation wrote, “Very thorough and well-researched project that not only gave solid and comprehensive background, but also put a detailed plan of action into place. This project — also very relevant in its timing given the #METOO environment — has a strong chance of inspiring immediate change, as specific tools are given to the reader to act now.”
  • Kiran Sundar, student at Durham Academy, participated in GOA’s Gender Studies course and received a Catalyst for Change Prize for Coming Out at a Crossroads: Intersectionality in Durham Academy’s LGBTQ+ Community.  One panelist commented that Kiran’s “use of capturing and sharing individual voices was powerful and compelling in creating enduring awareness and empathy. I appreciated the sensitivity that was taken in protecting individuals while enabling a safe environment to share personal and difficult journeys. The presentation, complete with research, interactive polls and multi-media, created an effective experience and caused me to consider more individually the struggle many face to be themselves.”
  • Sydney Medford, Head-Royce student, received a Catalyst for Change prize for her work in GOA’s Architecture course, creating a proposal she called Oakland, CA Temporary Homeless Shelter. She impressed panelists with “her professional ideas and execution,” and they applauded her for having “clearly identified a significant global problem but made it relevant by examining its impact on her home city, Oakland. Sydney’s presentation illustrated advanced architectural thinking and skills and was well documented.”
  • Hyunshuh Kim attends Jakarta Intercultural School and took GOA’s Game Theory course this semester. She titled her presentation Pulling Out the Roots of Food Waste Problem. One panelist remarked, “I was impressed with many things in this project. Hyunshuh incorporated engaging activities and information that revealed more and more about the problem of food waste. I learned from this project and know it will personally impact the way I shop and plan and consider the food I have on hand. The information she included about imperfect foods, pull-dated foods (expired or near expiring), and ways retailers could deal with it was sound. I think her goal of triggering change will work, especially if more people read her work. It was well done, attractive and comprehensive. Bravo!”
  • Gayatri Singla’s presentation titled The Polluted Sounds of the Sea was inspired by participation in Head-Royce School’s course US History: Problem Solving Past & Present. Gayatri’s project garnered the praise of evaluators, one writing, “The first thing that impressed me was Gayatri’s long-held interest in marine science. Gayatri is passionate about it and did a great job articulating the dire problems experienced by whales. I knew very little about whales or that anything had been impacting them. This project brought their plight into focus. The end result of reading this project: I want to know more, and if I can help, I would now be interested in learning how.”
  • Peggy Li from West Point Grey Academy applied what she learned in GOA’s Graphic Design course to a project titled: Women in STEM: Why are there so few? and prompted one reviewer to say, “Peggy is in the early stages of a promising STEM career,” and another, “As a professional graphic designer, I was impressed that Peggy did the research, then went through the process to create a visual to make a complex issue more understandable to more people. I applaud her efforts and hope it helps educate people.”
  • Siena Martin received a Catalyst for Change Prize for her presentation, The Right to Choose: History of Birth Control, for Head-Royce School’s on-campus course US History: Problem Solving Past & Present. A reviewer describer the project by saying, “I was impressed how the author outlined a cogent history of reproductive rights over time, and in doing so illustrated how frustrating and exhausting it is that we are still fighting this fight. The author provides concrete solutions for us to consider as we move forward.”
  • Elizabeth Novogradac of Head-Royce School, captured the attention of panelists with her presentation “They Did Not Listen” : Sexual Violence after Title IX.  Panelists praised the relevancy of the project, “The timing of this research and project is excellent. In light of the #METOO movement, there could not be a more relevant time to inspire and affect change in the world for increasing awareness among and reducing cases of sexual abuse among female athletes. This project was particularly well-researched with numerous excellent sources used and cited. The videos included — with firsthand accounts — were particularly illuminating and moving. Very well done.”

We are so proud of all the work all of our conference presenters (more than 400 of them!) produced and cannot wait for the Catalyst Conference to return in 2019!

If you weren’t able to visit the conference last week, you’re still invited to peruse student presentations and filter by topic, class, school, and awards. Pages will remain available at for several weeks.

Global Online Academy (GOA) reimagines learning to empower students and teachers to thrive in a globally networked society. Professional learning opportunities are open to any educator. To sign up or to learn more, see our Professional Learning Opportunities for Educators or email with the subject title “Professional Learning.” Follow us on Twitter @GOALearning. To stay up to date on GOA learning opportunities, sign up for our newsletter here.

Be a part of what's next
Connect with us

Contact Us