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2024 High School Winners


Breathe Easy with Living Walls

Nila Arunkumar

McNeil High School Austin, TX

Nila Arunkumar is in the 11th grade at McNeil High School in Austin, Texas. She found out about the World of 8 Billion student video contest in her 9th grade social studies class and has participated every year since. She was a finalist in 2022 and 2023 and has really enjoyed competing in the contest because it gives her the opportunity to work on her animation and videography skills. Nila chose health as her topic because she was interested in sharing how prevention is key to most health problems caused by air pollution. She saw a large living wall in a local grocery store, which sparked her curiosity on using plants as a solution to improve air quality. Throughout her participation in the contest, she learned a lot about the impacts of a growing population on health, but this year she learned just how high our carbon footprints are. Nila was surprised to learn about the engineering behind living walls because even though they seem like a simple solution, the design is extremely complex.

Nila has loved filmmaking since she was a kid and has experience creating stop motion videos with Play-Doh and dry erase boards. She fell in love with digital design during the pandemic, which provided an opportunity for her to animate her video using Adobe. The most challenging part of the contest was finding the time to work on it. Nila mentioned that junior year is demanding and even though it is only a one-minute video, it takes hours to animate. Some advice she has for future participants is to “plan and start early, do a lot of research because there’s a lot of information out there and you want to make sure you have the most important information before you start animating and filming.”

On top of filmmaking, Nila loves to travel, plays tennis and volleyball, tap dances, and is the Harry Potter club president at her school. Her role model is her brother, Surya, who is also a World of 8 Billion winner. Nila said that she is inspired by her brother’s work ethic, sincerity and intelligence. “He is the kindest person I know and am inspired by his heart of gold,” she shared. Nila and Surya also participate in Destination Imagination together, a STEAM competition where they qualified for their Global Finals recently. Nila has also recently qualified for the Texas Science and Engineering Fair and was awarded the Superintendent award for science and engineering. Nila is a proud STEMinist and would like to pursue a career in the STEM field in the future. She is planning on saving most of her prize money for college but would like to use a little for a dinner to celebrate with her brother.

Breathe Easy with Living Walls

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