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2018 Science Without Borders® Challenge: Meet the High School Winners


Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation

International Coral Reef Initiative

Each year the Khaled bin Sultan’s Living Oceans Foundation launches a Science Without Borders® Arts Challenge. An international student art competition that highlights important ocean conservation issues. This year they teamed up with the International Coral Reef Initiative for the theme “Why Coral Reefs Matter”. The theme was chosen to highlight the importance of coral reefs as part of the International Year of the Reef (IYOR) celebrations.

Over 600 entries were received, with a winner and two runner’s up announced from the High School and Middle School categories. We are pleased to introduce you to our High School winners!

Selena Yang, 1st Place Winner

Q: Why did you enter the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

A: I came across this contest online and found it interesting because I had just learned about coral reefs in my Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science Class. While I came across this Science Without Borders® Challenge, I connected ideas that I learned from my Environmental Science class and the message I wanted to convey.

Q: How did you create your art piece for the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

First Place: The Last Coral Reef, Selena Yang, 16, US

A: Before creating my artwork, I researched coral reefs, specifically endangered fishes, turtles, and other organisms. Then I created a piece of art that personifies a mother earth-like figure, symbolizing the last coral reef. I wanted her to be surrounded by a vast, empty dead ocean to contrast life and death. My best friend Allie, helped by modeling for me.

Q: How did you start making art? 

A: My mom liked to teach me art was I younger and it is the main foundation for my art skills. When I was five my mom went through a whole entire art book, step by step, teaching me how to draw dolphins, people, and architecture. My dad, who is a plant cell biologist, also inspires my artwork. Having a scientist as a dad helps me to create paintings that are theoretically and scientifically accurate. I recently did a 12-piece art portfolio in the shape of a puzzle, inspired by my dad and history class. My artwork combined science, humanities, and art to demonstrate how everything in the universe is connected.

Q: Do you plan to pursue a career in art or science? If so, how?

A: When I was a child my mom taught me art and science. I plan to pursue a career that combines art and science somewhat like architecture. I recently did an internship at an architecture firm and it has inspired me to pursue a career along the lines of design and engineering.

Xinyue Du, 2nd Place Winner

Q: Why did you enter the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

A: When I first heard about the Science Without Borders® Challenge, I had no interest to enter at all. I knew nothing about the topic and I didn’t want to spend time researching it when I already had a busy schedule. One day, I started doing research about coral reefs, and I began to understand the reason behind the contest. I knew more about how important coral reefs are to the nature and to human beings, and how much we are hurting them. Then I realized, that I could at least use what I am good at to express my thoughts and concerns. That is why I entered the Science Without Borders® Challenge.

Second Place: Fading Away, Xinyue Du, 16, US

Q: What inspired you to create your art piece for the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

A: The portfolio that I was making for my art class in school inspired me to create my art piece for the challenge. They have the same style. Also, there are a lot of ways that coral reefs impact human life and vice versa, so I thought it would be better to combine them together into one piece. Therefore, I created an imaginary coral world.

Diana Vasileva, 3rd Place Winner

Q: Why did you enter the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

A: To be honest, when I found this contest, my goal was to improve my artistic and creative abilities and try to win the contest. But when I began to learn about these amazing creatures, I was really upset by how critical the situation is. I have entered in Science Without Borders® Challenge because I really care about the fate of corals.

Third Place: SOS, Diana Vasileva, 16, Russia

Q: What inspired you to create your art piece for the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

A: I was inspired by the idea that by drawing, I really can help corals, despite the fact that I come from faraway Siberia. My heart is warmed by the idea that not only was I ​​helping corals, but also my friends, acquaintances and teachers.