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Youth Climate Action Summit

By Gabrielle and Madeline Pollock 

Opinion and Culture Editor

On Sat., Nov. 10, The Tech Museum of Innovation hosted its first Youth Climate Action Summit. The museum’s student board put on the nine hour event from 8:45 AM to 6:00 PM, which aimed to get teenagers involved in reducing climate change and saving our planet. The student board consists of 12 high school students that are involved with The Tech For Global Good program at The Tech and aim educate their peers on global issues.

Throughout the day, students could sign up to receive notifications on their phone about when the various sessions and events were taking place. Everyone also received a pamphlet with not only information, but a notes section where students would reflect on that they learned and how they could implement it to make a difference.

Checking into the event, students received a tote, water bottle and t-shirt. Additionally, students were treated to a breakfast buffet full of nutritional options.  

At 10:00 AM, everyone gathered in the IMAX dome theater to hear a welcoming speech from Tim Ritchie, the CEO and President of The Tech Museum of Innovation, and the 12 student board members who created the Youth Climate Action Summit. Their overall goal for the event was to create a day full of action and change.

Next, oceanographer Robert Ballard spoke to the audience via Skype from the Channel Islands about climate change. After his lecture, students had the opportunity to ask him questions about climate change. Following Ballard, Rikard Steiber of HTC informed students on the benefits of using virtual reality to inform the public on climate change. Simulations such as the rainforest, deep sea diving and more allow individuals to get a first hand look at our environment and the ways we can help it.

At 11:15 AM, students made their way downstairs to experience various activities and action. From 11:15 to 12:15, Breakout Session one took place where Austin Meyer, documentary filmmaker and photographer, took students on a storytelling journey. Students also got the opportunity to save the rainforest through an escape room activity. Drop-in activities were also available to students during this time. The National Geographic Basecamp gave the students an opportunity to enter a raffle and learn more about climate change. NTC hosted various virtual reality simulations, and students could take action by signing up for an EcoChallenge which challenges students to apply what they have learned in the world. Additionally, the documentary “Before The Flood” was shown in the IMAX dome theater and a session where students would interact with their peers in the Galapagos and Florida.

From 12:15 to 1:00 PM, the event offered an Impossible Burger bar featuring the environmentally friendly, plant-based burger. Students were able to mingle and enjoy a healthy meal.

Jumping back into the madness, National Geographic hosted two Explorer Panels from 1:15 to 2:15 where individuals got the opportunity to meet various educators and scientists. Next, until 3:30, Breakout Session two and three allowed students to get into character as a UN representative and negotiate plans to control climate change, learn about threats to animals, and quiz Nobel Prize Winner Bill Collins. Also, the documentary “Before The Flood” played again in the IMAX dome theater. Ending with the last Breakout Session of the day, individuals were able to look at what social impact looks like as a career until 4:45 PM.

Finally, from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, The Tech student board and fellow Tech Museum leaders closed the first Youth Climate Action Summit. San Jose Mayor, Sam Liccardo, gave his final thoughts on the future of climate change and the steps everyone should be taking to save our earth. Annie Ketmann, a member of the student board stated, “The event went extremely well. We sold over 500 tickets for the event, which we did not expect. The students were really engaged with serious Breakout Sessions that interested them and the speakers were very inspirational about their workforce and technologies. I am so happy and proud of my fellow peers with how the event went.”


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