Digital Essay Competition

The essay competition was created to inspire students to explore connections between human rights and science, engineering and the health professions. Students may write on any topic at the intersection of science and/or technology with human rights.

The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Student Essay Competition is made possible by the AAAS-Andrew M. Sessler Fund for Science, Education, and Human Rights.

Past Winners:

2017

66 students from 32 different countries entered the competition. The essays covered a wide range of topics at the intersection of science of human rights, including reproductive technologies, food security, artificial intelligence, data privacy, and access to water.  The winners will be recognized at the July 27, 2017 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C. 


Graduate Student Winner
Miriam Aczel, Imperial College London 
Essay Title: "Fracking and Human Rights: Using a Rights-Based Framework to Regulate a New Technology"


Undergraduate Student Winner
Church Lieu, California State University – Los Angeles
Essay Title: "The Augmentation Gap"


Honorable Mentions
Kylie Orme, University of Utah
Essay Title: “Mr. Robot: Morality, AI, and Personhood” 

Elaine Huang, Lafayette College
Essay Title: "Doomed to Digital Dependence? Children in the Age of Persuasive Technology"


2016

42 students from 10 different countries entered the competition. The essays represented a wide range of scientific topics, including child psychology and development; personalized medicine; assistive technologies; food security; information technology; research ethics; environmental disasters; forensic science; and the place of ethnic, racial, and gender identity in scientific research. The winners were recognized at the July 2016 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Graduate Student Winner
Julie Fleischman, Michigan State University
Essay Title: “Skeletal Analysis after Crimes Against Humanity and Genocides: Implications for Human Rights”

Ms. Fleischman is an Anthropology doctoral student at Michigan State University.  She is completing her dissertation research on human remains from the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia; she is focusing on the skeletal injuries as well as how the remains are understood in contemporary Cambodian society.  Her primary research interests include forensic anthropology, human rights, and skeletal trauma. 


Undergraduate Student Winner
Tanner Rolfe, University of Dayton
Essay Title: “Living Water: A Catholic Social Teaching Perspective on PFOA and Human Rights”

Tanner is currently a junior at the University of Dayton majoring in mechanical engineering with an intended minor in mechanical systems. He has a special interest in applications of shape-changing mechanisms and is currently involved in undergraduate research focused on kinematic synthesis of variable geometry linkages. He says, "I love the design process: it allows me to express my creativity while giving me the opportunity to apply my skills in a practical and significant way.After graduation, he hopes to attend graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree in engineering, and aspires to one day earn PE licensure. 


Honorable Mention for Creativity and Originality
Priyanka Menon, Harvard University
Essay Title: “Mathematics and the Question of Human Rights”

Priyanka Menon graduated from Harvard College in 2016 with a B.A. in Mathematics and a secondary in History. She is primarily interested in the histories and theories of human rights, political violence, and civil disobedience.


2015

29 students from 8 different countries entered the competition. The essays represent a wide range of scientific topics: neuroscience, biology, ‘Big Data’, forensic anthropology, science policy, STEM education, wildlife ecology, environmental sustainability, sociology, medicine, global health, science ethics, stem cell research, materials engineering, crowd-sourcing, computer science, biotechnology, genetics, agricultural sciences, climate change, and information technology. The winners were recognized at the July 2015 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Graduate Student Winner
Wasima Khan, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Essay Title: "Profits, Medicine, and the Human Right to Health in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Educating (Future) Business Leaders"

Wasima Khan, J.D., is a PhD candidate in Corporate Law at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Wasima’s forthcoming dissertation focuses on how responsibilities toward distributive justice can be implemented in law, business, and society.


Undergraduate Student Winner
Lauren Y. Chan, Queen's University
Essay Title: “The Pursuit of Perfection? Fetal Genetic Screening"

Lauren is a first year medical student at Queen’s University in Canada, and was one of ten students accepted into the inaugural year of the Accelerated Route to Medical School program in 2013. She is passionate about scientific research and human rights, and hopes to incorporate global health into her future medical career.


Honorable Mentions
Jonah S. Rubin, University of Chicago
Essay Title: “Spain’s Laboratory of Hope and Dignity: Scientific Exhumations and the Making of Dead Citizens"

Neha Shah, Georgetown University
Essay Title: "The Structural Human Rights Violations of Malaria"


2014

53 students from eleven different countries entered the competition. Their essays covered almost as many topics, addressing human rights concerns connected to surrogacy, immunization, bio-technology, genetic tests, environmental health issues, and more. Many essays highlighted potential contributions of science and technology to protecting human rights, while others gave thoughtful consideration to ways in which human rights principles can inform scientific research and practice. The winners were recognized at the July 2014 Science and Human Rights Coalition Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Graduate Student Winner
Wasiu Adedapo Lawal, The University of Texas at Arlington
Essay Title: "Water as a Friend and a Right"
Read the winning graduate essay.


Undergraduate Student Winner
Surabhi Chaturvedi, National Law Institute University, Bhopal
Essay Title: “Satellite Imagery in International Human Rights Litigation”
Read the winning undergraduate essay. 


SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS JOIN KENYA’S 5TH ANNUAL DIGITAL ESSAY COMPETITION

Over 5,000 students with original voices all across Kenya answered the question: Ni vipi teknolojia inabadilisha shule yako? Or How is technology changing your school?

The 5th annual eKitabu Digital Essay Competition has for the first time included young writers from the Special Needs Community with participation from schools for the blind and visually impaired in Mombasa, Kisumu, Kiambu, and Meru counties who submitted their essays in Braille. Special Needs winners will be awarded computing devices, scholarship money and public recognition alongside their mainstream peers.

The 2017 Digital Essay Competition was open from 20th April to 1st August and received 5,305 entries from 177 schools in 41 counties. Students submitted essays of 500 words to 800 words to interpret the 2017 question and respond to it in their own original voices. Judging is done in two rounds, first by competent and respected teachers with wide experience marking language subjects for primary and secondary school national examinations. Final Judging is done by a panel of distinguished leaders from Kenyan public sector and private sector organizations in publishing and education.

Prize Giving is Wednesday 27th September at Nairobi International Book Fair, Sarit Center, Westlands from 10am- Noon.

About Digital Essay Competition
The Competition is open to students from Standard 5 to Form 4 in all Kenyan public and private schools. Essays are submitted online at essay.ekitabu.com. Winners are awarded computing devices, scholarship money, and national recognition with Ministry of Education.

DEC Partners & Sponsors are Ministry of Education, Longhorn Publishers, Moran Publishers, Oxford University Press, Kenya Publishers Association (KPA), Kenya Union of the Blind (KUB), Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA), Kenya Primary School Heads Association (KEPSHA), and Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA).

2017 DIGITAL ESSAY COMPETITION WINNERS

NAME AWARD                                              SCHOOL                                             COUNTY
PRIMARY ENGLISH CATEGORY
GRAND PRIZE WINNER PURITY ONGACHI GOLDEN TOTS SCHOOL KAKAMEGA
1ST RUNNER UP DARVYNE AGNES W. NDEGWA TETU GIRLS PRIMARY SCHOOL NYERI
2ND RUNNER UP PRECIOUS DABANI LUKENYA ACADEMY MACHAKOS
3RD RUNNER UP JUDITH NDANU MUTUA LUKENYA ACADEMY MACHAKOS
4TH RUNNER UP JEPCHIRCHIR ASHLEY NANCY GEORGE ACADEMY KAKAMEGA
GRAND PRIZE WINNER PURITY ONGACHI GOLDEN TOTS SCHOOL KAKAMEGA

PRIMARY KISWAHILI CATEGORY
GRAND PRIZE WINNER UDANA EMMANUEL INDIAZI KITALE SCHOOL TRANS-NZOIA
1ST RUNNER UP HARRISON NYAMAWI ST. BERNADETTE MARY SCHOOL KILIFI
2ND RUNNER UP JOHN MUTURI MUTHONI CHEMA MIXED ACADEMY NYANDARUA
3RD RUNNER UP CHRISOSTINE OKISAI FLUORSPAR PRIMARY ELGEIYO MARAKWET
4TH RUNNER UP IMMACULATE MOMANYI KITALE SCHOOL TRANS-NZOIA
GRAND PRIZE WINNER UDANA EMMANUEL INDIAZI KITALE SCHOOL TRANS-NZOIA

ART CATEGORY
WINNER MELODY WAMBUI NJUGUNA THIKA ROAD CHRISTIAN SCHOOL NAIROBI

SPECIAL NEEDS CATEGORY
ENGLISH
GRAND PRIZE WINNER OWINO AGNETA ST ODA SCHOOL FTB SIAYA
KISWAHILI
GRAND PRIZE WINNER PHANIS NYABOKE ST ODA SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND SIAYA

ENGLISH SECONDARY SCHOOL
GRAND PRIZE WINNER IRENE MBITHE MACHAKOS GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL MACHAKOS
1ST RUNNER UP SISCO CHERONO STAREHE GIRLS CENTRE AND SCHOOL NAIROBI
2ND RUNNER UP FASSIEH BELINDAH KEVEYE GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL VIHIGA
3RD RUNNER UP JULIET NJERI KAMAU BISHOP GATIMU NGANDU GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL NYERI
4TH RUNNER UP AMOS MUSANGO MULEI MAKUENI BOYS’ HIGH SCHOOL MAKUENI

KISWAHILI SECONDARY SCHOOL
GRAND PRIZE WINNER LINUS LENGO THOYA MALINDI HIGH SCHOOL MALINDI
1ST RUNNER UP RAPHAEL KIPKOECH ALLIANCE HIGH SCHOOL KIAMBU
2ND RUNNER UP DENIS KIOKO MUSYOKA MAKUENI BOYS’ HIGH SCHOOL MAKUENI
3RD RUNNER UP LAETITIA JOY IKHALACHI MOI GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL ELDORET UASIN GICHU
4TH RUNNER UP SOPHIA AKANE FRIENDS SECONDARY SCHOOL-MATURU KAKAMEGA

ART SECONDARY SCHOOL
WINNER OKOTI ALVIN CHAVAKALI HIGH SCHOOL VIHIGA

FRENCH SECONDARY SCHOOL
WINNER LIHAVI DAINAH ESTHER MOI GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL ELDORET UASIN GICHU

SPECIAL NEEDS CATEGORY
ENGLISH
GRAND PRIZE WINNER NANCY KINYUA THIKA HIGH SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND KIAMBU
KISWAHILI
GRAND PRIZE WINNER PIUS MUITE THIKA HIGH SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND KIAMBU

iTOYA Awards
In partnership with CEMASTEA, TSC, and KESSHA, eKitabu successfully launched the first annual iTOYA Award in 2017 to recognize teachers for the best, original ICT-integrated lessons in Mathematics and Sciences. “i” stands for ICT Integration in Teaching and Learning and TOYA for Teacher of the Year Award. The competition requires participating teachers to be nominated by their Principals / Head Teachers for their creative use of ICT integration in the classroom. Presentation of the first iTOYA awards was done at the annual KESSHA Delegates Conference in June. Check details at itoya.ekitabu.com

About eKitabu
eKitabu is a Kenyan and US based company headquartered in Nairobi. eKitabu is East Africa’s leading ebook store, distributing ebooks and interactive content to schools and individuals at eKitabu.com. eKitabu collaborates with leading educational publishers in Kenya and internationally, focusing on books approved for use in Kenyan education by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

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Website: eKitabu.com

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