Our Stories

Milton Students Win Regionals in Cadena Competition for 2nd Year

May 20, 2021 by Ronit Greenstein (Faculty and Staff)

Congratulations to eighth graders Gabriel A. and Mayer F. on winning first place in the Cadena Initiative Regional Competition and kol hakavod to Aliza L., Nava F., Michal N., and Josie S. who were named finalists in the social entrepreneurship competition. The Cadena Initiative challenges middle school students to develop projects that mitigate the effects of disease, natural disasters, or humanitarian crises with low-cost, actionable, and replicable solutions. This is the second year that Milton has participated in the Cadena Initiative, and the second year in which our students won the regional competition.

Students in Grade 8 worked in teams to research the needs of people affected by a variety of humanitarian crises, and then developed ideas, built prototypes, and tested solutions. The student’s extensive research enabled them to deeply understand the needs and complex set of challenges faced by the end users – in the case of the winning project, school-age children in Niger with limited access to education. The project – School is in the Waves – catalyzes innovation and partnerships in the region to address issues such as illiteracy, limited economic mobility, and gender equity, among others by utilizing radio to deliver education to underserved communities. See their School is in the Waves presentation. Finalists Nava F. and Josie S. submitted a proposal for UV light filter kits to address the Sudan water crisis, which has far reaching implications including disease, famines, and gender equity. See their Rejuvenator project presentation. Finalists Aliza L. and Michal N. focused on the climate crisis and energy reduction by developing an invention that can be placed in the air ducts of buildings to cool them, decreasing energy use, cost, and usage of fossil fuels. See their Full Circle project presentation.

Three Milton teams competed against three other teams from CESJDS and Berman Hebrew Academy at the regional competition, which took place virtually earlier this spring. The Cadena Initiative International Competition will take place Sunday, May 23, 2021, at 10:00am EST. We invite you to attend this global event and cheer on the students as they present their projects to viewers around the world. Find the Zoom link to the event in the May 20 HaShavua or the Parent Portal. The winner/s of the International Competition have their project implemented by the Cadena organization.  

Ahead of the virtual event on Sunday, Gabriel and Mayer created a one-minute informational video about their project and connected with other Cadena Initiative entrants. Today, they met with regional winners from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Israel, Spain, and cities across the U.S., and played games with children who attend a school in Mexico that partners with Cadena. 

To participate in the Cadena competition, teams submitted written proposals, digital posters, and prototypes of their ideas. The Cadena judges noted the high quality of submissions by all the students. These projects reflect in-depth research, innovation and new thinking in devising solutions, flexibility and grit in delving into complex, multi-layered challenges, and the hard work of applying critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communications skills to use as teams refined and reshaped their projects. We are incredibly proud of and inspired by all the students who participated in this tikkun olam and STEM challenge! Special thanks to Milton STEM and Design Lab Coordinator Elana Cohen for her leadership, guidance, and support to all our students. Thank you to Board Member Billy Begal and to Rabbi Adam Raskin from Congregation Har Shalom for joining Annie Vainrub from Cadena Foundation to judge the competition.

The Cadena Initiative social entrepreneurship competition is an idea incubator and hotbed of leaders: this contest for middle school students seeks innovative and disruptive solutions to prevent or better respond to disasters and humanitarian crises globally. The goal of their programs is to leave a better world for our children and better children for our world. Learn more about Cadena.