There are over 8.7 million different kinds of plants and animals on earth, according to National Geographic. This diversity of life is what scientists call “biodiversity.” Due to climate change, pollution, and changes to the environment caused by humans, the earth’s biodiversity is under threat. 

Animals and plants need our help. Otherwise, an estimated 1 million species may go extinct. That’s not good for our planet, and it’s not good for humans. To help put a stop to the problem, the global nonprofit EarthEcho International has launched the 2021 OurEcho Challenge, a STEM competition for U.S. middle schoolers in grades 5-9. The competition challenges teacher-led student teams to identify, address, and solve problems that threaten natural resources and biodiversity where they live. 

“During last year’s inaugural OurEcho Challenge we were blown away by the ingenuity, passion, and determination of young leaders ready, willing and able to take on the growing global decline of biodiversity,” Philippe Cousteau, Jr., founder of EarthEcho International, stated in a press release. “The Challenge provides students with a platform to turn their love of nature into a plan of action to support the diverse native species and habitats that exist in their own communities and to inspire others to do the same.”

In the spring, EarthEcho will choose 10 finalist teams to compete for three project grants worth between $1,000 to $5,000. The finalists will draft a final presentation and/or prototype design of their solution between May 7 and June 4. Teams and mentors will present the project virtually to EarthEcho International on June 11. The top three teams will receive grants to turn their projects into real-life solutions.

Click here to apply.

Do you need more middle school/high school resources? Check out IEEE TryEngineering’s collection of resources for high school and secondary school teachers to enhance STEM curricula and encourage students (ages 13-18) to explore STEM.