November 11th, 2018
Fourth annual Student Energy Summit unites youth statewide in solving climate change
Close to 200 students from across the state participated in Blue Planet Foundation’s 2018 Student Energy Summit today at the Hawaii Convention Center. Middle and high school students from 24 public and private schools tackled real world clean energy issues through interactive workshops and hands-on challenges at the fourth annual Summit. The event is sponsored by Clearway Energy Group, LLC.
“I learned a lot about renewable energy,” said Indiana Auchenbach, 11, from Kaunakakai School on Molokai. “One thing I thought was cool was learning how solar panels work—with photons. That’s really cool. Also, electric cars are cool.” Auchenbach’s team won the design challenge in the breakout session on carbon buildup, removing the greatest number of “carbon” ping pong balls with a device they built from cardboard and plastic tubing. Auchenbach wants to help classrooms back on Molokai get LED lights, and help households get solar panels. In other sessions, students put their heads together with community experts to learn about fuel cells, solar power, energy efficiency, and climate campaign strategies.
The theme of this year’s Summit is “SPACESHIP EARTH: failure is not an option.” The theme draws from the story of the Apollo 13 moon mission, which provides an analogy for our climate crisis. When an explosion on board Apollo 13 threatened the lives of the astronauts, they engaged in creative problem-solving with engineers and designers on the ground to return safely to Earth. Our climate crisis calls for an equally inventive and collaborative effort, and the Student Energy Summit gives youth a chance to work together to design solutions.
“We have to instill urgency in people to make a change now,” said Griff Jurgens, Education Coordinator at Blue Planet Foundation. “These students will be coming up with solutions that help bridge the gap to 100% clean energy, not only for Hawaii but for the whole world.”
Attendees will translate their learning into practice on Day 2, working in teams to create energy plans for their communities and schools. Teachers from across the islands also had the opportunity to participate in a professional development workshop on energy curriculum on Day 1, facilitated by Project Learning Tree.
The two-day event coincides with the most destructive wildfires on record in California, which were highlighted in plenary and breakout sessions. The Summit also comes less than a month after the release of a landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns of disastrous consequences if we fail to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Blue Planet Foundation made a special surprise announcement at the event: Student art work from a Blue Planet art contest in August will inspire the design of all new electric tour buses that JTB Hawaii, Inc. will debut in Honolulu in April 2019.
“It’s inspiring to see such enthusiasm among students joining our Summit, whether it’s their first or their fourth year here,” said Francois Rogers, Special Projects Director at Blue Planet Foundation. “This is our next generation of leaders, and we’re honored to have this opportunity to work with them to solve climate change.”