Ellie Halstrick ’23 presented her research paper on mass transit systems in Costa Rica at the World Food Prize Pennsylvania Youth Institute on July 10, 2020. Ellie, David Shields ‘23, and Stoney Xu ’23 qualified to participate in the conference by submitting their capstone projects from their AP Human Geography course taught by history teacher Sara Shreve-Price.
Each student researched a real-world problem related to factors impacting and solutions for food insecurity through the lens of a specific country and investigated possible solutions. Their papers identified the problem and proposed a solution based on their work.
“I wanted a project that would encourage students to feel that the research they were doing mattered,” said Sara. “There are real global problems that they could investigate and identify possible solutions. I also wanted them to be able to share their findings with the officials who were trying to solve those problems.”
Ellie’s paper was submitted in the category of Farm to Market that focuses on improving access to markets through infrastructure development. She wanted to see how Costa Rica could make mass transit a reality by looking into ways to finance the system. She looked at different taxation schemes to figure out how to fund a project of this scale. Ellie’s presentation to an online audience of peers and experts included a question and answer session and was followed by a round table discussion to draw together some conclusions and themes from the presentations.
“It was inspiring that one of our students really took on a challenge that she didn’t have to do. This was so much work and Ellie just did it for love of the world and the desire to help. She got to share that with other people who are trying to make the world a better place,” said Sara.
The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by the father of the Green Revolution and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dr. Norman Borlaug. The Youth Institute is an offshoot of the prize founded to get high school students interested in solving problems and to expose them to experts who are on the cutting edge of science and public policy research.