Middle and High School Students Create Solutions to Global Problems

Middle and High School Students Create Solutions to Global Problems

Jacobs Teen Innovation Challenge

The winners of the fifth annual Jacobs Teen Innovation Challenge (JTIC) were recently announced. This year, 4,700 students from 32 countries signed up to participate in the challenge by creating innovative, sustainable solutions aimed at improving people's quality of life and addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

The challenge is supported by the Pactful curriculum and app, a free software for design thinking made available by the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education at the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences. 

Two teams won in the category of “Best Overall Social Innovation” and were awarded $2,000 each. A team from La Jolla Country Day School, led by teacher Dan Lenzen, created “Illuminart,” an adaptive interactive sensory device for young patients at the Helen Bernardy Center for Medically Fragile Children at Rady Children's Hospital.

The second winning team for “Best Overall Social Innovation” was from Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Guadalajara, led by teacher Oscar David Rivera Garrido. After seeing the need for low cost toilets for patients waiting outside a local hospital, the team came up with an idea called “Dry Toilet” – an eco-friendly portable toilet that uses calcium hydroxide powder instead of water.

Five other award prizes of $500 were given in the categories of Most Local Impact (Project Mighty Millets, Mt. Everest Academy, San Diego), Most Global Impact (Project Mission to Mars, Mechanical Advantage Nonprofit Organization, San Diego), Joan Jacobs Most Creative Innovation (Project BugLOK, Le Régent International School, Crans-Montana, Switzerland), Advancement of Social Justice and Equity (Project Rolling Towards Menstrual Equity, PrepaTec, Monterrey, Mexico) and Photonics Innovation (IlluminArt, La Jolla Country Day School, San Diego).

“Seeing these youth create such innovative solutions to real global issues, I feel a sense of confidence that our youth are developing the skill set to truly be changemakers in the world,” said Rebecca Ottinger, program manager of Pactful at USD’s Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education. 

The challenge is hosted by the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education team, including Perla Myers, PhD, executive director, Lisa Dawley, PhD, senior innovation fellow and Pactful co-creator, and Anne Avilez, social innovation specialist, and is generously sponsored by Dr. Irwin Jacobs and his wife, the late Mrs. Joan Jacobs. 


Cameran Zech
(619) 260-7448