Meet Our High School Art Contest Winner

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We hope that you enjoyed meeting Anish, the first-place middle school winner of our 2020 Science Without Borders® Challenge.

I would now like to introduce you to the first-place high school winner of our contest, Stacey Lei, who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attends West Career and Technical Academy. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Stacey. She is very humble when talking about her artistic abilities. To my surprise, I learned that Stacey has not had any formal art training. She truly has a natural artistic ability.

The Reef We Read by Stacey Lei, Age 16, United States

For the contest, Stacey submitted a drawing called “The Reef We Read.” During a short interview, we discussed what inspired her to enter the contest, what she has learned by participating in the contest, and how she hopes her artwork will inspire others.

First Place High School Winner Stacey Lei
First Place High School Winner Stacey Lei

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

A: My teacher showed me this competition, and I entered because I have always found the ocean a calming and gorgeous place. It was heartbreaking to know that the once flourishing coral reefs are gradually fading. I believe this challenge would be a good opportunity to share my thoughts on how we can save coral reefs.

Q: What inspired you to create your art piece?

A: I remember hearing about coral bleaching in school and researching it when I got home. If I had not learned about marine ecosystems at school, I would not have known about the extent of coral reef endangerment. This inspired me to create an illustration focusing on how spreading awareness can save coral reefs.

Q: What do you want people to get out of the artwork you created?

A: I want to inspire others to raise awareness for coral reefs and realize the vital role education plays in the preservation of our aquatic ecosystems.  

Q: What did you learn by participating in the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

A: While participating, I learned how interconnected every ecosystem is. A lack of public awareness results in a significant decrease in human actions towards preserving coral reefs, which, consequently, causes a decrease in healthy ecosystems. 

Q: What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to pursue a career in art or science?

A: I plan on pursuing a career in science. I hope to become a biomedical engineer in the future. 

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is considering entering the Science Without Borders® Challenge? 

A: I would advise anyone who is entering the Science Without Borders® Challenge to relate the theme to their daily lives and think of how it has personally affected them.


Corals reefs are dying because of negative human activities. The lack of awareness surrounding the reefs have contributed to its destruction. Education paves our future. When awareness is spread, the ocean is bright and full of life. The plants and other organisms above the book live in a healthy ecosystem, free of negative human interventions. However, when the awareness of our environment ceases, pollutants begin to destroy the coral reef. This is illustrated underneath the book where the ocean is lifeless, corals are bleached, and fish are entangled in human waste. Pollution is steadily creeping into marine life and joining the jellyfish. The book will close, and coral reefs will only exist in history books if the pollution is not stopped. We must take immediate action by spreading coral reef awareness and stop the cycle of waste before it is too late.

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