Investigating Climate Change With the Watershed Academy

July 19th, 2019

Sixteen high school students explored global warming problems and remedies during the weeklong Climate Change Academy, hearing from experts in classrooms, laboratories, and field trips.

As one of five courses for high school students at The Watershed Institute, this academy aimed to strengthen students’  understanding of the impact of climate change on wildlife populations, human diseases, ocean acidification, and weather patterns. The academy also hoped to inspire students to consider careers in renewable energy, energy efficiencies and other possible solutions to global warming.

Giancarlo Grullon, 15, of Trenton said the academy provided a broad overview on “climate change, things like hydrogen fuel cells, how greenhouse gases affect our environment, and how we need to stop climate change before it gets too hot.”

Several experts, including Jennifer Brady from nonprofit Climate Central and state climatologist David Robinson, illustrated the impacts with computer modeling that showed rising waters submerging Philadelphia, melting mountain snowpacks and heavy rains contributing to soil erosion.

On various field trips, the students from various towns in Mercer County observed bird populations and other wildlife on the Watershed Reserve. At Princeton University’s engineering labs, they saw scientists working on solutions such as soil carbon storage, emissions controls, and development of sustainable concrete.

On another Hopewell Township field trip, the students learned about alternative energy by visiting the off-the-grid Hydrogen House, fueled entirely by hydrogen cells. Owner Michael Strizki showed the students how he took energy from the sun, stored it and used it to power everything on his property, including his lights, air conditioners, motorcycles, cars, and other household devices.

Mariam Swaray, 15, Trenton, said she chose to take this academy course “because climate change affects our environment a lot. I loved the inside of his [Hydrogen House].”

Back at The Watershed Institute, the students played the Climate Change UN game and discovered the global interconnectedness of energy use. The game simulated how Third World countries are impacted by the energy consumption of developed nations and how negotiations could alter climate change worldwide.

Academy students learned about the magnitude of climate change and how changing peoples’ habits and behaviors could contribute to solutions.

“We not only learned about how much of a problem climate change is, but what we can do about it. We can reduce carbon gasses, switch to hydrogen fuel-cell cars and electric cars …” said Jacob Brown, 13, of Hopewell Borough. “We can install solar panels and wind turbines, we can reduce all greenhouse gasses and start to switch to more renewable energy.”


The students finished the week by demonstrating what they learned with presentations, poster boards and interactive games before an audience of their families and Watershed staff and trustees.

By Payton Tuorto, Media Intern





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