2020-2021 Topics

These are the topics for the 2020-2021 competition season:


2020-2021 Topics

PP#1 Youth in Competitive Sports
PP#2 Wearable Technology
Regional Human Environmental Impact
State Personalized Medicine
International To be announced in March 2021


PP#1:  Youth in Competitive Sports

Millions of children around the world participate in competitive youth sports every year. Involvement in organized sports teaches many essential life skills – teamwork, confidence, the value of hard work, and discipline. While some competitive sports promote activity and a healthy lifestyle, others build skills such as mental agility. The hyper-competitiveness of youth sports raises concerns that children are pushed too hard to win and succeed. The sports options for youth are also evolving, as competitive e-sports emerge. Competitive sports can heighten aggression, pressure to win, and put children – who are still growing and developing – at risk for injuries.

In many places, increasing costs of club sport-memberships and insurance exclude those who need social interaction and fitness the most. The costs of maintaining and running facilities can also limit the accessibility for youth.

How much should we push young people to participate in competitive sports? Do the benefits of structured competition outweigh the costs of over-competitive behavior and possible injury? How does participation in sports impact the well being of youth and their families? 

PP#2:  Wearable Technology

Traditionally, clothing and accessories have all been developed to fill basic needs. They provide warmth, protection from the elements or injury, and even serve to attract attention. Recently, the industry for wearable technology has transformed the way we think about clothing and accessories. Wearables have rapidly expanded to include heating elements, internet connections, watches, body monitors, and more.

As more people grow accustomed to wearables in their daily lives, the possibilities for what the technologies can do are virtually limitless. They already monitor vital signs, send information to medical professionals, and even give individuals the ability to soar like a bird in personal flight suits. Smart sports uniforms can now reduce and identify injuries by regulating body temperature, supporting muscles and tendons, and gauging the force of impact. Attire with virtual reality functions is currently being developed to push this sector even further.

How will wearable technology enhance or jeopardize real-life experiences and connections with others? Where in the world could wearable technologies allow humans to survive? What advantages or disadvantages are inherent in the inclusion of technology in our clothing and on our bodies? 


Regional Competition:  Human Environmental Impact

Humans have always impacted the environment. Over time, the effects have increased as industrialization, urbanization, deforestation, processing of natural resources, the burning of fossil fuels and more technologies have developed. Examples of human’s impact on the environment are everywhere.

Feeding the world’s growing population has adverse environmental effects such as overgrazing, deforestation, and agriculture-induced soil erosion. Water pollution from pesticides and fertilizers impacts the quality of water available for specific populations. Clearing of land and overfishing result in loss of biodiversity and disturbances to ecosystems. Industrialization and urbanization cause the release of toxic solid, liquid, or gaseous waste materials and are the catalyst for serious environmental hazards. Water pollution as a result of poor disposal of sewage wastes, solid wastes, and other industrial wastes, may spread diseases and create an unfit environment for human activities. Industrialization has also increased consumption of natural resources for the production of goods, leading to a significant loss of nonrenewable resources and excessive waste. Activities like mining and dam construction cause habitat destruction. Trends like “fast fashion” contribute to why the fashion industry is the second-leading cause of pollution in the environment.

What are our challenges moving forward to create a balance between basic human needs and our need to preserve or create an environment that is fit for continued quality human existence and growth?


State Competition:  Personalized Medicine

What if your doctor could diagnose you before you experience symptoms? Using information from an individuals’ genetic and molecular profile, researchers have begun to create patient-specific treatments with a level of precision never before seen. Personalized Medicine enables healthcare providers to use a patient’s cells to combat precisely identified diseases at an unprecedented pace.

Researchers at universities, biotech companies, laboratories, and pharmaceutical companies are continually making discoveries. Doctors and other healthcare professionals continue to explore how these discoveries can help patients and increase our knowledge about diseases. The pharmaceutical industry is developing medications that tailored to an individual patient’s genetic makeup. The costs of genetic tests are decreasing as their availability increases.

Even with better affordability, how accessible will individualized advanced treatments be? Will insurance companies cover them? The increasing specificity of personal health information raises many concerns about the protection of personal data. How will Personalized Medicine account for the impact of external/environmental factors on an individual’s health?