If you’ve ever wondered whether today’s youth understand that our warming planet is causing a growing crisis, or whether my peers are serious about solving the problem then you only needed to be with me last week when I spent a day with 1,500 Middle and High school students at MAST Academy. And if you’ve ever been concerned about whether kids can quickly swing into action to create those solutions then you sure would have been impressed by the kids that I met on campus that day.
MAST Academy is a nationally recognized school, the only maritime and science technology magnet middle and high school in the Miami-Dade County system and has a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) focus.
It also happens to be located on Key Biscayne, a beautiful barrier island just off the coast of Miami, that is only one of the most susceptible places on earth to a future of sea level rise. In fact, at the rate we are going it’s likely that MAST and much, perhaps all, of Key Biscayne will be under water in a few decades unless those kids and others like them join me in solving this problem.
I started my morning with presentations to two groups of high school students that filled the school’s auditorium. These young people were very engaged, had excellent questions, and were eager to learn more about what they could do to help.
I then spoke to the school’s environmental clubs and we discussed ideas to help make their school and community more sustainable. Prior to my visit I was asked to help the children think of new projects, to inspire and motivate them. We talked about their recycling initiatives, beach cleanups and campus greenhouse. And we talked a lot about solar power, a topic that the students were fascinated with.
While my time with the high school students and clubs was amazing, perhaps the highlight of my day was the enthusiasm of the middle schoolers that packed every seat in the auditorium after lunch. In fact, after my lecture these students had over an hour of questions and comments about climate change, sea rise and solutions to these problems.
The children were so enthusiastic that day that the school’s leadership was spontaneously inspired to create a school-wide sustainability committee. Over 50 children volunteered on their own volition to participate and then joined me to discuss how they could raise money, approach local political leaders, design, plan and implement a range of projects on their campus and in their community.
When I say that these children were motivated, I really do mean it. They were hungry to learn and become involved and, most importantly, to solve the climate change crisis with one another. As I have said and seen many times before, Kids Get It and that sure is true at MAST Academy.
Thanks to Michele Drucker for kindly inviting me and being so enthusiastic towards the children as well as me and my work.
Thanks also to MAST’s Principal Ms. Otero for allowing me to visit her school as well as supporting the children’s excitement for the future.
I’ve promised to return to MAST and help the children in any way that I can and I look forward to doing that so as to build on their enthusiasm. It’s exactly that type of enthusiasm that gives me great hope that by working together my peers and I will, in fact, solve the climate crisis.