By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia high school students are presenting their solutions to real-world problems in a competition called the Aspen Challenge.

“The brainpower in this room is phenomenal.”

Mayor Kenney welcomed students to the Ballroom at the Ben for the Aspen Challenge judging. For the last eight weeks, groups from 20 high schools developed strategies to solve issues such as violence, food waste and preserving the environment.

Bartram High School sophomore Najia Merritt says, “The problem that we had is that there’s a lot of litter in our community.”

Their solution was promoting recycling through social media. People for People Charter High School sophomore Satana Clark’s group created an app to resolve disagreements.

“It will get people to think differently about solving conflicts.”

The challenge is run by the Bezos Family Foundation. Winners from three Philly schools get to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival in June.

But Aspen Institute Program Assistant James White says the competition isn’t solely about winning.

“What we’re really trying to do is inspire these young people to get engaged and lead changes in their communities.”

Superintendent William Hite welcomes students to the Aspen Challenge judging.
(credit: Mike DeNardo)

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William Hite added, “Many of you now are probably recognizing traits within yourselves that you didn’t know you had. What matters is that you had the opportunity to participate in something special.”

Philadelphia is the fifth city to take part in the Aspen Challenge. Previous competitions have been held in Los Angeles, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.