Honolulu (KHON2)- On Nov. 14, Blue Planet Foundation kicked off the 2020 Student Energy Summit, a three-day virtual workshop on clean energy for middle school and high school students. Over 100 students from all across Hawaii learned how to identify climate issues, work within a team, and present solutions to a panel of judges.

The Summit’s theme this year was “Road to Recovery.” It was centered around working together towards a clean energy future while focusing on the many injustices and inequities that have come to light in this year alone. While the breakout sessions discussed energy efficiency, clean transportation, and policy, they brought in that element too of climate equity. The students were extremely passionate about it which was great to see. The goal was to foster community and teach students how to support one another. That is how we move forward.

While it was a little more challenging this year with the Summit having to go virtual due to the pandemic, Education Director Griff Jurgens found ways to make it interactive for students.

“It was definitely a different experience because I always love seeing the students in person. But we really embraced the virtual platform while still ensuring that personal connection. Prior to the Summit, we sent students self-care kits in the mail,” explained Jurgens.

The event itself had amazing special guests, like keynote speaker Maxine Burkett, a performance and Q & A with the talented Honoka Katayama, and then they also found ways to gamify the event. They had clean energy trivia and an online scavenger hunt. Those types of activities really were a lot of fun for the students when they were not in their breakout sessions or presenting their projects.

The winning climate solution project for the middle school students was the team from Hilo Elementary School. They addressed clean transportation, specifically looking at overcoming some of the roadblocks that electric vehicles have when having to go long distances. The panel loved that they researched solutions that impact their own island and they were so innovative.

The winning team for the high school students was the team from Waipahu High School. They presented on soil erosion and its relationship to food waste and scarcity, and of course its effect on the climate. Their solution included composting and outreach with local farms. Everyone did so well, and the winning teams actually received funding for their projects.

In 2021, Blue Planet Foundation wants to be even more involved with the kids, working with more schools, and making an impact in our community. If people want to help support the work we are doing, they can visit blueplanetfoundation.org/donate, and any donation, however big or small, is greatly appreciated.