Our Stories

Milton Students Win Regionals in Cadena Social Entrepreneurship Competition

April 26, 2020 by Ronit Greenstein (Faculty and Staff)

Congratulations to eighth graders Mira E. and Gabriella K.-E. on winning first place in the Cadena Initiative Regional Competition and kol hakavod to Nava F., Eleanor F., and Ilana K. 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. This is the first year that Milton has participated in the competition.

Milton’s Design Lab became an incubator for ideas to streamline and revolutionize disaster preparedness and response this year. For months, students in Grade 8 worked in teams to research the needs of people affected by disasters or humanitarian crises, and then developed ideas, built prototypes, and tested solutions. In January, we had an in-house competition to narrow our 11 teams down to several finalists. On April 24, two Milton teams competed against four other teams from CESJDS and Berman Hebrew Academy. To participate in the competition, the teams submitted written proposals, digital posters, videos, and prototypes of their ideas. The Cadena judges were so impressed with the quality of the research, the commitment of the students, and the talent and ingenuity of all the students from Milton, CESJDS and Berman Hebrew Academy.

First place winners Mira E. and Gabriella K.-E. won for the SODIS Starter Kit, an educational kit designed to help people in Yemen contend with the current cholera outbreak. The project, which includes directions in Arabic, helps users to understand the SODIS method for cleaning water. It works by having users put water into a bottle made of PET plastic and place the bottle in UV light for an extended period of time. The combined effects of ultra-violet light (UV)-induced DNA damage, thermal inactivation, and photo-oxidative destruction inactivate disease-causing organisms. The team’s kit also has a UV-sensitive cap that changes color with the intensity of the sun to provide guidance to users as to the necessary amount of time the bottle must remain in the sun. The benefits of the SODIS Starter Kit are the  disinfection system’s proven reduction of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa in water, simplicity of use and acceptability, and low/no cost if using recycled plastic bottles. See the promo video they made about the SODIS Starter Kit project.

Kol hakavod to finalists Nava F., Eleanor F., and Ilana K. for their project: The Privacy Shield. According to their research, Washington, D.C. has the highest rate of homeless women in the US. To address the unmet need for privacy in shelters, the team developed a simple, inexpensive solution. Their prototype uses parts of an umbrella, fabric, and a music stand to create a space that is easily assembled and then stored.  The team’s solution is cost-effective, can be replicated easily, and considers the needs of the user as well as the space constraints in shelters. See the promo video they made about the Privacy Shield project.

We are so inspired by all the students who participated in this tikkun olam initiative! Special thanks to Milton STEM and Design Lab Coordinator Elana Cohen Schwartz 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.

In past years, the winning team had the opportunity to travel to Mexico City to be part of a service project and to compete with teams all around the world. The winner/s of the International Competition had their project implemented by the Cadena Organization. We will share updates on the competition (organizers are working on their new plans) as we receive them.