Recent climate change reports paint a startling picture of the earth’s future, but a tiny school of just 400 students is determined to make a difference, one donut at a time!
In 2017, Huonville High School in Tasmania beat out 14 schools from around the world to win the Global High Schools Zayed Future Energy Prize. The school used the $133,000 prize to renovate an old building on their grounds, transforming it into a place where students can learn to apply clean, renewable energy sources to everyday life.
The new building boasts solar panels, triple glazing, insulation, and energy efficient curtains. Inside, 13 student volunteers participate in hands-on studies about clean energy sources. They have even rigged up bicycles to produce enough energy to boil oil and make donuts as a sweet reward for their sweat equity!
Teacher and program coordinator Nel Smit said the new Zayed Huon Energy Hub has become an important place for students to gather on campus, all while drawing attention to a topic many people choose to ignore.
“The energy hub is a meeting place for the students, but it’s also a place where we hold workshops and demonstration events for the whole community,” she explained. “It’s raised awareness of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and opportunities in the community for engaging them around that sort of technology.”
Students say the Zayed Hub project has opened their eyes to the potential impact younger generations have on their own future.
“Being part of Zayed has definitely helped me feel like I’m doing something. I’m making a change, and that has reassured me to not be so worried or frustrated with the world,” said student Aisha Fisher, who volunteers at the Hub.
“At first it seemed like a really cool thing to do, and then the longer I was in [the energy hub] I realized how important saving energy is and how important the world is,” agreed fellow student volunteer Saila Perera. “It’s actually happening way faster than anyone thinks and it’s something that we should all try to stop.”
So far, the students’ efforts at the Zayed Hub have saved their school more than $44,000 on their utility bills! Even better, they’ve inspired a new generation of climate warriors who refuse to take this “code red for humanity” lying down. In fact, these kids are facing the problem head on, and as usual, the first part of fixing a problem is admitting that there is one.
“Running from climate change as a young person doesn’t help,” Aisha said. “The best thing you can do is to look at it from an optimistic, realistic point of view, and see what you can do on your small scale.”
So true! As the saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Kudos to this school for showing the world how to address (and hopefully reverse!) the impacts of climate change.
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