With about one month to go before the world of 7 billion (W7B) student video contest submissions are due, we thought it would be helpful to dig into what makes a winning video for this contest. Through some diligent research we identified some interesting correlations and suggestions for creating winning videos for the W7B contest! Don’t forget, submissions are due February 28th and are open to all middle and high school students!

So what are winning videos like? We reviewed the past 5 years of World of 7 Billion winners and identified key statistics about the videos that might help you create a winning video of your own this year. Here they are:


  1. Problem & Solution

Make sure that your video includes information about both the problem and your solution. It is not enough for W7B just to describe the topic that you are creating a video about, you must also describe how you would create a solution to that challenge! Every winning video over the last 5 years has some information about the problem followed by a good description of a solution.

  1. Music Track

Although it is not a requirement from the W7B rules, the vast majority of winning videos over the last 5 years included some background music or audio to supplement the voices. 97% of the winning high school videos, and 56% of the middle school videos selected as either 1st or 2nd place included a background music track to support their video.

  1. Video versus Animation?

There was little correlation between the type of video and winning. We grouped videos into four categories: (1) Video, (2) Stop Motion, (3) Slide Show, (4) Animation. Many winning videos included multiple types in one video. However, overall there was little correlation and it does not seem to matter which type of video you create. For high school winners, 30% used animation, 30% used video, 20% used stop motion, and 17% used a slideshow style (remember some videos used multiple styles). So there is little correlation between winning and what style you use. Use whatever style works best for you. There are great video editing apps available for free online, as well as other apps you can use to create simple animations or stop motion videos.

  1. Statistics

Statistics are important! 90% of first or second place award winners in high school included multiple statistics about the problem or solution they are proposing. These are actual numbers about the topic they’re describing. Additionally, 72% of winning middle school videos also included specific statistics. So make sure to include some detailed statistics in your video to help improve your chances.


Remember, you don’t need to be a professional film-maker to be successful at the World of 7 Billion video contest! In fact, only 10% of the rubric focuses on production (including visual and sound elements). Make sure your video follows the competition guidelines, and try to use these recommendations from our review of past winners, and you’ll have a great shot! Of course, following these recommendations is not a guarantee you will win, but based on our review of the past winners, they could help. Good luck!

New apps, computers, phones, and many other technologies are being released an ever increasing rate pulling on our attentions. With them, many schools see an increasing challenge in keeping students engaged in the classroom. However, there is at least one great way that smart phone apps can be used to help engage students. With the increasing use of smart phones, video creation apps have become easier and easier to use with ever better functionality. Today’s students are used to creating their own Instagram clips and Youtube posts on a daily basis. Rather than being considered a distraction, this can actually provide a great opportunity to engage students in academics through video creation.There are many video contests available for students. Some are more refined than others, and each has its own specific requirements; however, there are some common tips that can help students be more successful at these competitions.

Featured Competition: the World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest helps students learn about global population growth and its impacts. Don’t miss this video contest, the submission deadline is February 28th, 2019.

Students don’t need to become professional film-makers, but they should learn to incorporate few new skills. Here are 6 common tips we encourage students to follow when submitting to one of the great video contests that are available.

  1. 1. First, make sure you know your content.

Student video contests typically have a theme for your videos. Sometimes the theme changes each year, but sometimes it remains constant. Before beginning to create a video, students should spend time to research their competition’s theme. The more they know about the content the better the video will come out. Competitions typically don’t just score videos based on the quality of the filming, but they also focus on how well the students demonstrate specific knowledge or understanding of the theme. So make sure to do the background research in depth before you begin filming! 

  1. 2. Ensure the video responds to the challenge prompt.

In similar lines to knowing your content, students also need to double check that the video actually responds to the contest’s prompt or requirements. Typically student video contests will have certain requirements for your video. Not only will they require the video to be a certain length or of a certain quality, but they may also ask for the video to respond to a specific question, or include a particular type of information. Students need to double check that they understand all of these requirements before beginning to film. Many high quality videos have been disqualified because they didn’t follow the specific requirements of the contest prompt.

  1. 3. Create a storyboard and script before filming.

For those creative students jumping into video contests, it can be hard not to just jump in and start filming, but you really should put the breaks on a little bit and make sure that you have a good plan for what you are going to film first. We suggest to create two things before you get to the filming. First build out a storyboard for the video. What is it going to show when? What kind of imagery do you want to have? And what are the main points that the video will make in each scene? Then actually write your script. If you are going to have a lot of talking, this could take some time. Finally, when you have these two guides wrapped up, you’ll be ready to make a great video!

  1. 4. Select a style that matches your personality.

Every video is different, and each videographer has their own style. A video that one person thinks is excellent could be what the next person cringes at. Don’t worry too much about making videos in a specific style to try and meet everyone’s interest. Instead focus on defining your own style, and don’t switch styles in one video. Following a style that matches your personality will end up making it easier to create a high quality video with good content that meets the contest’s prompts. This alone will make your video easier to score highly than a video that is trying too hard to fit into one specific style that doesn’t match that of the students themselves.

  1. 5. Check the video for errors!

This may go without saying, but don’t submit a video that has bad audio, misspellings in its text, or other errors. Just like with a writing competition, you need to check and double check the video for errors. Make sure the playback is smooth and that there are no problems with your transitions. Having a seamless experience will help the contest judges score your submission highly.

  1. 6. Don’t worry too much about the bells and whistles.

It is very tempting to put on as many fancy transitions and exciting overlays in a video as you can. Students see a lot of interesting new features in the editing software or apps and think we should cram them all into a video! Unfortunately, this doesn’t help much in scoring videos well. Sometimes a well-placed transition feature, or interesting text overlay can make a difference, when it works well with your actual storyboard. However, don’t overdo it! Too many of these bells and whistles can distract judges from your real message just as easily as they can add to it.

Overall, video contests can be a great way to learn educational content while also flexing creative muscles. We encourage students and educators in all fields to explore these competitions. Although each contest has its own specific rules and guidelines, there are common traits that, when considered carefully, can help students produce better videos for any contest or competition. But make sure that you also review the competition’s website for specific guidelines.

Many competitions will post recommendations that are unique to their program to help you create videos that are specifically suited for what their judges are looking for. For example, the World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest includes a whole page with 15 specific recommendations to help you tailor your video to their challenge. In addition to our overarching items to get you started on the right path, the W7B team recommends things like choosing a specific audience for your video, and identifying a video “tone” before you even begin. You can check out these, and other guidelines for the W7B contest here.

W7B and many other video contests have deadlines in early 2019, so don’t miss this chance to flex your creative muscles and get involved in an academic video contest today!

Article Highlights

  • Large scale problems need to be broken down into bite-sized chunks.
  • Students need easy entry points to global change-making.
  • Competitions like the World of 7 Billion provide a great starting point for students.
  • 3 simple steps can get your students involved.

At one point or another, every student has dreamed of saving the world. They still have the exuberance of youth and the spark to go head-long into the unknown. They see challenges in their schools, communities, or watch videos on Youtube of environmental catastrophes across the globe, and they want to do something about it. Thousands of students have these feelings every year and yet global challenges persist. Why? Well, because global change is hard. And many of the young enthusiastic change-makers get disillusioned by the sheer magnitude of our challenges. They simply decide that they want to take on something a little easier.

One thing we know from competition sciences is that when people are faced with extremely complex or difficult challenges, more often than not, they give up or choose to not even take on the challenge. They choose to spend their time on something that is a little more “winnable.” So what does this mean for the future of such large complex challenges as environmental or social change? First is that it's critical to break them down into manageable parts. For students just getting introduced to the ideas of global change-making, it is most important to give them a place to start that doesn’t ask them to tackle a whole global challenge on their own from the get-go.


Start small and grow.

Asking students to take on projects that tackle large-scale global challenges as their first entry into global change-making may be daunting for many students, and may actually have the opposite effect as environmentally minded educators would like. For teachers it can be very difficult to help students get excited about global change making without getting disillusioned by the size of the problems or the amount of work there is to do.

World of 7 Billion Competitionthis featured challenge in the ICS environmental competitions database helps students take the first steps into global change-making by researching challenges associated with global population change, and creating a video describing their solution to the problem. Check it out today.


So what’s an educator to do? The key is to start simply. Don’t try to change the world all at once. Luckily, there are levels of competitions in the global change-making space that are good for students who are just getting introduced to this kind of thinking. Whatever age your students are, it may be best to start them with what we call “ideation” or “creative” contests rather than diving head first into outcome-based challenges where they are evaluated on tangible impact. The World of 7 Billion student video contest offers just such a starting point. This contest allows educators to help students get interested in environmental sustainability, and change-making content, without being overwhelming and asking too much of students at the start.


A Step-By-Step Entry into Global Change-Making.

The World of 7 Billion contest provides an easy but valuable entry way into global change-making for your students. We can make it even easier to get started by breaking the contest down into three simple steps (or concrete classroom projects) to help students begin their journey in global change-making. Here’s a simple process to use with the World of 7 Billion, or many other introductory style change-making competitions, to help get your students get going:

  1. Part 1: Research the Problems & Needs (1 Classroom period or a take-away home project).

The first step for World of 7 Billion, and many other competitions is to help your students understand the problem. Conducting a research project or lesson in the classroom can be a great initial touch-point for students on the ideas of global change-making. The World of 7 Billion actually provides a number of great classroom ready lesson plans and activities to help with this initial step. Make sure to check them out. Then, after students have conducted research and learned about the global problems, they can take the next steps toward actually understanding the solutions.

  1. Part 2: Identify what is being done and why (1 classroom period or a take-away home project).

To really understand how to create global change, students must also first understand what has been or is being tried to help solve the problem. Global challenges are not new, and many people have tried many things to combat these challenges. Have your students take their initial research projects one step further by researching specific projects or solutions that have already been tried. Ask your students to identify positive or successful aspects of each solution as well as negative aspects that may have limited its impact or caused it to fail all together. This will help students gain a stronger understanding of the challenge at large as well as giving them better ideas for how they might help create real change in the future.

  1. Part 3: Finally, get creative! (1 to 2 classroom periods or home-projects).

Students love to create things. The final step to introducing your students to global change making is to have them propose their own solutions to specific parts of the challenge in a fun creative medium. The World of 7 Billion contest does this by having students create short videos describing their solutions to one of the global challenge topics. Defining their solution through a fun project like this helps solidify a student’s interest in the topic and show them that there are real, actionable things that they can do in these areas.

Competitions like the World of 7 Billion video contest are sure to help provide an easier first touch to global change-making that may be a critical piece to helping your students actually take action. There’s still time to get involved for the 2018 competition. Video submissions aren’t due until February 22nd. So check out the World of 7 Billion topics and website resources now to get your students taking their first step in saving the world!

In recent years, we’ve seen some amazing millennials graduate college and enter the professional world. Through this generation we were introduced to such global change makers as Boyan Slat, the 23 year old Founder of The Ocean Cleanup, Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist leading global change in women’s rights through Malala.org, and many others.

With such inspiring young change-makers now leading their own organizations, we started to wonder, where are the next great social leaders going to come from? We know that the millennials and their younger centennial counterparts currently in K-12 schools are generations that care a lot about solving global challenges. As the Case Foundation’s 2016 Millennial Impact Report puts it, “Millennials are looking to effect change and make a difference through individualistic and personally gratifying action.”

Unfortunately, the traditional K12 classroom provides little opportunity for these students to engage with the content of global change-makers beyond a few classroom activities or homework assignments. In fact, according to a 2015 Gallup poll of over 1 million K-12 students in the United States, only half of students feel engaged in school, while a fifth are actively disengaged. About 10 percent are classified as both actively disengaged and discouraged. So it’s safe to say that the traditional classroom alone is not the great breeding ground for our next global change-makers.

Our schools need help connecting students with real-world social-change experiences that can show students they can become the next Boyan Slat or Malala. To help create these important connections, many educators are turning to educational challenges and competitions.

The Institute of Competition Sciences has identified over 35 academic competitions for K-12 students in the United States that actively deal with social-impact. In recent discussions with one of our partners, the World of 7 Billion contest, we wondered how data from academic competitions might be used to help identify where our next global change-makers are coming from. So we decided to test it out with a little data dive from the contest.


Discovering American Change-Maker Factories.

Ben Allen, from the World of 7 Billion, helped us take an introductory look at some of their submission information from the past three years to see if we could identify any trends in where students are having the most success in defining their own solutions to global challenges.

In the 2016-2017 school year, roughly 5,500 students participated in the World of 7 Billion (W7B) contest in which middle school and high school students take the first steps in global change-making by producing their own videos addressing a global challenge and offering a self-designed solution. Each year the contest has different themes. Last year, students were challenged to develop videos describing solutions in areas of climate change, rapid urbanization, and ocean health. For the February 2018 submission deadline, students can propose solutions in the areas of: advancing women and girls, feeding 10 billion, and preventing pollution.


We began by examining the sheer number of submissions to the challenge. In 2017, out of 2913 submissions, 2466 were from the United States. Not surprisingly, many of the states with the highest number of submissions were also states with the highest populations. Texas and California top the list with 316 and 167 submissions per year (averages based on submissions from the 2015, 2016, and 2017 contests). New York State also shows up in the top 5 based on sheer number of submissions. These three states are also the three most populous states in the nation.

There are a few notable exceptions, particularly Virginia, which has the third highest number of submissions, but falls in the middle of the pack in terms of population, giving it the highest submissions per million population (17.1) of all states except Connecticut.

Of course, just identifying the total number of submissions probably doesn’t have too much correlation to how many students will ultimately go on to be the next great change-makers. It probably correlates much more closely to how many students have actually heard about the competition. To get a better sense of where there might be outstanding work being done by the school and students, we have to look at the awards. Are there any stand-out states in terms of what awards the students are winning? Can we see stand-outs in the number of awards per submissions, or even awards per million population?

For this, we evaluated the last 3 years of the W7B competition and counted how many awards were received in each state. We used the ICS Badging points system to help evaluate how each state was doing based on all of the different levels of W7B awards received. Here’s what we found:


By pure points, California comes out on top. Over the past three years, California students have brought in a 1st place finish, a 2nd place finish, three honorable mentions, and two additional finalist placements totaling 3450 ICS points. Virginia is again in the top placements, close on the heels of California with 3000 ICS points, followed by Wisconsin at 2600 and New Jersey and Texas rounding out the top 5 with 2200 points each.

But still, simply looking at the sheer number of points, doesn’t really tell us if any one state stands out from the “norm.” California has the most points, but it also has the 2nd most submissions, and the highest population. Taking the next step in our analysis, we looked at the points per entry.

In this table, we’ve included all states that scored points in the World of 7 Billion contest between 2015 and 2017, regardless of how many yearly entries the state had. However, what we should really consider in looking at points per entry, are only the states with a significant number of entries each year. This eliminates states where there were just 1 or 2 entries submitted each year, but they did very well in placing. For example, Mississippi and Idaho and even to an extent, Utah, Minnesota, and Hawaii who scored fairly low in overall points, but because they had so few entries, they come out on top in the points per entry category. It’s hard to say that states with fewer than 10 to 20 entries per year demonstrate a trend in delivering above average numbers of upcoming global change makers.

For the sake of this experiment, we consider an average of 20 submissions per year, to be the minimum for which we can make any relevant inference about above average performance in producing future global change-makers. When we consider this cutoff, we start to see a few standout states.

Chief among them is Wisconsin, followed by Illinois and Pennsylvania. With 49 average entries per year, Wisconsin has a significant base of participation. Wisconsin also comes in ranked 3rd in overall ICS points at 2600. In fact, Wisconsin shines not only in their overall points, but also in both points per entry and points per total population. So in this introductory experiment, we give our outstanding Global Change-Maker Factory award, to … Wisconsin!

What does all of this actually mean? Is Wisconsin destined to produce the next Boyan Slat, or Malala Yousafzai for the United States? Not at all. We must be careful about what we infer from such limited data, this is mostly a thought experiment to start examining how we might use academic competitions to infer larger scale trends. Far more data and deeper mathematical analysis would be needed to make real statistical projections. However, we can say that Wisconsin schools and educational organizations have been great at promoting a connection to global change-making for their students. Will they continue to lead the awards in the World of 7 Billion contest? The chances look good that they’ll at least produce a number of top contenders.

Regardless of where you’re from, using the World of 7 Billion student video contest, students have been able to create their own self-image as a global change-maker, and this is something everyone can celebrate. If you want to jump into the game in global change-making, or get your students involved, the World of 7 Billion contest is a great entry point. There are 3 months before submissions are due for the 2018 competition on February 22nd. Maybe your students can represent your state and start their journey down the path towards solving some of the biggest challenges of our time. Check out the World of 7 Billion to get started.


Article Highlights

  • Millennials have proven to be a very socially engaged generation, but continued support from younger generations is needed.
  • Video creation has been shown to be a great learning tool that can also inspire action in young change-makers.
  • The World of 7 Billion contest provides a unique opportunity for middle and high school educators to connect students with global change on a level they can easily internalize.

It seems like we’ve been trying to tackle pollution, hunger, women’s rights, and other global challenges, for … well, forever. And unfortunately, it seems like the solution is always just beyond our reach. These challenges are so complex and have such a wide ranging set of variables that it is impossible to say that there is one solution. There is no smoking gun where, if only we did X, we would solve world hunger, or we would end pollution, or equalize the rights of all people. Global change happens through the combination of many local and regional changes that percolate into our systems, societies, and economies leading to global trends that move the needle. However, getting students to realize this without being overwhelmed by the challenges ahead can be difficult.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the Millennial generation grow into its own, entering the workforce and creating new social enterprises to help tackle these global challenges. We were introduced to Millennial change-makers such as Boyan Slat, the 23 year old Founder of The Ocean Cleanup, and Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist leading global change in women’s rights through Malala.org, and other Millennials who have taken the plunge into instigating social change. However, these complex challenges will not be solved by just a few leaders. Solutions require masses of new change-makers to build upon what has come before.

The Case Foundation’s 2016 Millennial Impact Report noted that, “Millennials are looking to effect change and make a difference through individualistic and personally gratifying action.” They act locally, as everyday change-makers. With the rise of the Millennial generation and the success of these young heroes, educators all over the world are starting to see that they can actually inspire students to take action and become mentors to a generation of global change-makers.

Of course, it’s not easy to showcase how students can actually have an impact on such complex, global challenges. For many educators, inspiring action in these areas can seem daunting, especially to students who have as of yet had little to no experience fighting for social change. Sometimes the tasks simply seem too complex to even understand where to start.

So what are educators to do if they want to help inspire their students to become the next global change makers?

One proven way to inspire action is through video – not just watching video about global change – but creating videos where students can use multiple skills to internalize the content. In 2014, Dr. Peter Willmot and his colleagues at Loughborough University and Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom demonstrated that, “there is strong evidence that digital video reporting can inspire and engage students when incorporated into student-centered learning activities.”

Dr. Willmot and his colleagues found that when students create their own videos, they are effectively combining the learning-through-teaching principle with a number of other skills that help to build deep, intrinsic connections to the content and internalize their own learning. In one study, conducted at Loughborough University, Dr. Willmot, found that 3 out of 4 students said they enjoyed a learning activity using video creation as its primary learning tool. While this research does not compare these student responses to those of other learning tools, it does show that video development can be a significant way to engage students. 

The World of 7 Billion student video contest provides a unique opportunity for educators to put this research to practice and use video creation to not only educate students on global issues, but inspire them into action. The academic contest will not only help your students learn about global challenges, but it will also engage them in conceptualizing actionable solutions of their own.

In the World of 7 Billion contest, students create their own 60 second video connecting population pressures with one of three global challenges: advancing women and girls, feeding 10 billion, or preventing pollution. Students must also include their own concept on how we can move forward with solving the challenge, and showcase this to the world through their video.


The majority of last year’s student participants said they actually wanted to expand upon their video projects and work on helping to implement a solution!

Students throughout the world are eligible for awards, but more so than just winning prizes, they are included into a global community of young change-makers. Go beyond the traditional research project and encourage deeper learning for your students. Video submissions for the 2018 contest are due in February, but accepting on a rolling basis. So now is the time to start thinking about projects, and getting your students ready to go!

Check out all of the details at World of 7 Billion.