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YouthCity’s Energy Science Summit

Energy is key to our societies, communities, health, and more. It’s also an important concept when we consider the environment and climate change.

Our youngest community members play a key role in inspiring our climate action. Helping students engage with topics including energy conservation, renewable resources, and climate action helps us all build a more sustainable community.

That is why we were thrilled to team up with Salt Lake City’s YouthCity to explore energy for their fall after school program. This year, YouthCity has spent 4 months exploring energy and sustainability. And last week we heard from 22 student groups and several of our community partners at the 5th annual YouthCity Science Summit.

What is YouthCity?

YouthCity is Salt Lake City’s after school program for young people ages 8-19. The program provides student-centered, hands-on opportunities for social, emotional, skills, character, and citizen development in an inclusive and caring environment.

Each year, YouthCity’s after school courses help kids learn about physical health, financial awareness, the scientific method, and more. In the fall, YouthCity focuses on STEM subjects, and for the last 5 years the session has culminated in a Science Summit event where students share what they have learned with their families and peers.

This year, the Science Summit applied energy concepts to real world problems. The Summit featured projects on green power, climate and extreme weather, aquaponics and photosynthesis, renewable energy powered cars, solar power, light energy, and environmental justice. YouthCity instructors and students worked through questions with hands-on science and were able to relate energy topics to real-world issues including air quality, recycling, and public health and safety.  

Why Energy?

YouthCity’s Science Summit is an opportunity for students to take a deep dive into a specific subject. Energy Literacy is a great starting point for helping kids learn about energy’s role in climate change and sustainability. Defined as “an understanding of the nature and role of energy in the world and daily lives accompanied by the ability to apply this understanding to answer questions and solve problems,” Energy Literacy is fundamental to understanding the impacts of energy use on the planet and how to start conceptualizing approaches to climate action.

Salt Lake City is committed to reducing carbon emissions and building climate resiliency, as described in the Climate Positive 2040 Plan. Our goal is to achieve net-100% clean electricity for the community by 2030 and an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2040. The plan emphasizes sustainability through clean energy, efficient buildings, equitable food systems, clean transportation, and zero waste.

Meeting the Climate Positive Plan’s goals requires creativity and collaboration. In 2018, SLCgreen and Utah Clean Energy created Empower SLC, an outreach initiative that helps residents save energy and money while reducing pollution on a community-wide scale. Through Empower SLC, we have been able to work with partners including YouthCity to encourage energy efficiency across Salt Lake City.

5th Annual Science Summit

This year’s Science Summit empowered our youngest community members to get involved by applying energy concepts to understand climate change, protect the environment, and have fun!

We learned about basic mechanics, how to create a circuit with graphite, what liquids help plants grow and photosynthesize best, and how inversion holds bad air in our valley. The Science Summit gave YouthCity kids a chance to practice their presentation skills, with each participant taking a turn to present their data, key vocabulary words, and future careers related to their projects.

We are grateful to our community partners who presented alongside the YouthCity Students. Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Save our Canyons, and the University of Utah Chemical Engineering Department brought fantastic presentations to give students a chance to see how energy and sustainability come together.

Check out some of our favorite moments from the 2019 Science Summit:

And catch Salt Lake City Television‘s coverage of the event:

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