Each year, the entire Mount Carmel Academy student body collaborates on a school-wide Design Cycle Challenge (DCC). The challenges change from year to year, but two things remain constant. First, the challenges are always rooted in the Catholic Social Teachings, and second, the students find solutions by working through seven steps: Ask, Research, Imagine, Plan, Create, Evaluate, and Improve.

In January 2024, Mrs. Richard, MCA’s Director of Academic Innovation, announced that students would be participating in the National Geographic Slingshot Challenge, a video competition for students ages 13-17 from any country in the world. Participants must address an environmental issue and present their solution – all within a one-minute video. Focus areas include cleaning our air, restoring the ocean, protecting nature, reducing waste, and addressing climate change. Last year, the Slingshot Challenge reached a global audience with submissions from 80 countries, with approximately 10,000 youth and 5,000 educators participating.

While students had the option to consider solutions for any issue – global or local, they were strongly urged to consider community-level concerns. Mrs. Richard stressed that thinking small can make big impacts. Additionally, she encouraged them to explore solutions that already exist but could benefit from increased awareness.

Students were also tasked to consider the entire community, including how various members might perceive the same issue in different ways. They were reminded that environmental issues can be complicated and that solving one problem might introduce another. They were also asked to reflect on why people make specific choices, especially if the goal was to encourage different decisions.


Ask, Research, Imagine

The groups explored available resources, brainstormed together as a team, and shared ideas.

Evaluate and Present

Groups reevaluated their ideas and determined which one would be the most viable. After each team pitched their top idea, their homeroom selected one to invest in.

Plan and Create

Each homeroom formed a Core Team and Advisory Committee. The Core Team took charge of planning and shooting the film, while the Advisory Committee provided feedback and continued with additional research.

Evaluate and Improve

The Core Team met with the Advisory Committee, final edits were made, and the film was submitted.

Students watched and voted on the submissions from each homeroom. The highest-rated entries in each grade level will progress to a school-wide competition, where they will be evaluated by a panel of alumnae and community experts.


Teachers played a crucial role as mentors, offering assistance and knowledge across a wide variety of areas, including media, design, brainstorming, creation, and project refinement. Labs, accessible throughout school, addressed a variety of needs. The Brainstorm Lab focused on organizing groups, establishing norms, and generating creative ideas. The Design Lab covered questions related to the choice of media, effective messaging, and ensuring consistent branding. The Tech/Media Lab provided support for technical aspects, including shooting, editing, audio capture, and the selection of music or B roll. The Drafting Lab offered assistance in developing storyboards or scripts, while the Research Lab provided guidance on research methodologies and citing sources. Additionally, Mobile Mentors circulated around campus to offer feedback and support to students.

The Top Videos from Each Grade:


Compost Krewe



Cycle Up! The Recycling App




Composting Food Waste




Welcome to New Orleans



8th Grade

Erase Waste





More News