Announcing the 2020 Our Planet, Our Purpose: #STEMforChangemaking Winners

How are young leaders using STEM to make our world more sustainable?  

 

For the second edition of the Our Planet, Our Purpose: STEM for Changemaking Challenge, Ashoka and General Motors invited changemakers across the U.S. ages 14-18 to share their innovative solutions to environmental challenges.  

 

Now we’re thrilled to announce the 25 winning teams, who will receive $1,000 in seed funding for their initiative, along with the opportunity to grow as changemakers with ongoing mentorship from Ashoka and General Motors.  

 

Later this summer, our 25 winning teams will join Ashoka and General Motors for a virtual Changemaking Summit to celebrate their accomplishments, strengthen their ventures, and collaborate on the urgent issues facing our planet. 

 

Read on to discover the brilliant ways young changemakers across the U.S. are working to improve the wellbeing of people and the planet. 

 

BIODIVERSITY 

 

BEEAware (California)  
An app that analyzes the threats faced by bees, including pesticides and poor air quality, and offers step-by-step action items for community members to help the bee population. 

 

CLIMATE 

 

FireWatch (Virginia)  
A low-cost monitoring device that can accurately detect and localize a fire with hardware that costs only $103. 

 

The Electric Monkeys: Cool Electric Cars for Everyone (CECE) (Connecticut) 
A site that will offer educational online resources for converting a vehicle from a combustion engine to electric, in order to break the barriers of cost and complexity for clean energy technology. 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION 

 

Climate Youth Ambassador Program (California) 
A youth-focused program that teaches the causes and effects of climate change along with strategies to reduce your carbon footprint and resource consumption. 

 

Go Green - EcoEye (North Carolina)  
An initiative that engages the community through free educational events around waste and recycling, and an app that uses your phone’s camera and AI recognition to classify waste and its recyclability. 

 

Project Exchange’s Digital Exchange Program (Washington)  
A youth-led nonprofit that runs free, 12- week online cultural exchange programs for middle & high school students in 23+ countries.

 

STEM & Buds for Sustainability (Pennsylvania)  
A peer mentorship program that aims to spark and support STEM innovation at a young age by pairing students in grades 4-8 with high school volunteers to design their own research project, conduct an experiment, and present their findings at a science fair. 

 

The Tomorrow Project (Washington)  
An organization that partners with schools and builds customized curricula to foster sustainable practices and normalize environmentally conscious behaviors. 

 

Youth Climate Action Coalition (California) 
An organization that’s partnered with 57 schools to bring together like-minded youth who want to take initiative to do their part in helping the environment. 

 

FOOD 

 

Food tech for the Future: Growing Digital (California) 
A program that offers low-income students across the state an opportunity to build “Food Computers”— tabletop-sized, controlled environment agriculture tech platforms that use robotic systems to control and monitor climate, energy, and plant growth inside a specialized growing chamber. 

 

Imprinting the future: Accessible 3D Printing for a sustainable environment (Arizona) 
An initiative that procures 3D-printers for local community organizations in farming regions and hosts classes that enable students to invest in their communities by printing solutions to issues like difficult working conditions and invasive bug species infestation. 

 

JEE Foods (Ohio) 
An organization that rescues and stores would-be-wasted food, dehydrates or flash-freezes some produce to prolong shelf life, and delivers the food to those who are food insecure. 

 

Lunch Pre-ordering System (California)  
A system that will enable students to order a pre-packaged lunch ahead of time, resulting in faster service, increased revenue, and reduced food waste. 

 

GARDENING 

 

Gardenia (Michigan) 
An initiative based on the idea of a mobile greenhouse, which will display a variety of plants, vegetables, and fruits that can be affordably purchased by the community.  

 

Ian’s Giving Garden (Texas) 
A program encompassing seven sites in Austin, Texas that has provided over 9.5 tons of organic produce to local families and activates students and neighbors to grow food in their own yards. 

 

Speak UP Green UP (Illinois) 
An initiative seeking to eliminate pesticides/herbicides from public spaces by using a natural pesticide alternative and raise awareness among students and administrators about the health hazards of pesticides. 

 

The Urban Garden Initiative (TUGI)  (Delaware)  
A bi-annual workshop at schools and community centers that empowers youth through environmental education and hands-on container gardening—an accessible way for schools with less space or resources to garden. 

 

WASTE 

 

Linens N Love (California)  
A nonprofit that donates castoff hotel linens to shelters including animal shelters, homeless shelters, & teen orphanages. 

 

Sustainable menstruation to eliminate plastic waste and period poverty in marginalized/lowincome communities (New York) 
Menstrual hygiene education sessions in low income communities that break the taboo by explaining the biological process of menstruation, while also demonstrating and advocating for the use of eco-friendly reusable cloth pads, which are distributed for free after each session. 

 

The Green Sleep Project (Connecticut)  
A project that reduces plastic pollution through partnering with local schools and businesses to take in used plastic bags and transform them into sleeping mats for the homeless community who lack a comfortable place to sleep. 

 

WATER  

 

Aqua-Pods (California) 
A simple, innovative solution to water scarcity: Biodegradable sponges soak up excess water, and when the plant needs water, release the already-absorbed water to the plants through osmosis. 

 

Stormwater Management and Research Team (SMART)  (Maine)  
A youth-led water quality management team which aims to provide female students with opportunities to explore environmental STEM. 

 

Study on the Performance Identification of OpenCV in Cashew Nut Shell-based Activated Carbon (New Hampshire)  
A project that uses cashew shells to prepare activated carbon for Cambodian villages and derived an algorithm and a model to evaluate its efficiency. 

 

The Neptune Project (California) 
An initiative that leverages big data to identify communities the greatest risk for lead contamination and provides them testing. 

 

The Water Effect (Michigan)  
A solution for pollution in the Detroit river: a river bin that collects trash and chemical solutions and absorbs the toxins until they are disposed of properly. 
 

Follow the hashtag #STEMforChangemaking for updates from the upcoming Changemaker Summit!