'Coltan' video made by Shorewood middle school students wins worldwide contest

SHOREWOOD -- Teenagers can be known for spending a lot of time on their cellphones, and three Shorewood Intermediate School students just won an award for taking a different look at their devices.

Seventh-graders Lucy Benavides, Noa Biener, and Eleanor Bennett think about technology a bit differently now.

Eleanor Bennett

"In school, there's always pressure to get the newest iPhone, and then you realize, 'I don't really need that because it's going to need more of this substance,'" said Bennett.

That substance is Coltan. It's needed to produce most electronic devices. The girls made a video about the substance and its impact as part of a world geography project. The video is called "Coltan: A Conflict Mineral."

Lucy Benavides

"It's so small in our phones, yet it has such a big impact on other people's lives," said Benavides.

The video discusses how 80% of the world's Coltan is found in Congo, where workers are mostly children paid as little as $3 a day.

"They work differently, and if we want to change things, we have to realize that," said Biener.

Their video won first prize in Population Connection's "World of 7 Billion" video contest. The prize is $500 to share.



Noa Biener

"Not going to lie, I read the email like, three times to make sure the email was correct. I was super excited for them," said Kristina Stridde, teacher.

Teachers Kristina Stridde and Sarah Kopplin heard about the contest three years ago. The students said the lessons learned will stay with them.

"You realize how you try and want to make more ethical choices in the future," Bennett said.

This was the third year in a row Shorewood Intermediate had a group win first place out of the thousands of entries from across the globe.

As of Wednesday, May 29 were still undecided on how to spend the money.