By Christian Lum
On April 22, MHS held it’s annual Youth Envisioning Sustainable (YES) Future Science Symposium, created as a way for students to give back to our Earth, while furthering their own scientific knowledge. On the day of the symposium, students showcased their experiments to the public and how they helped the environment.
“(YES) Future is a project that is part of AP Environmental Science and has been a part of regular environmental science for four years. I don’t think it’s all about memorizing stuff and passing tests, it is project based learning. The students basically choose what they are passionate about it in terms of environmental problems, a place where they want to focus on, an issue where they want to focus on and they do these things,” said Sandra Webb, who is in charge of the YES Future Symposium for the school.
The event was an opportunity for the students to connect with peers across schools, while at the same time expanding their knowledge of the subject matter. “My project was on the watershed and I chose to communicate my issue out to (students) by educating them through (my project)). At first I did a powerpoint then afterwards I did a hands-on activity with them to show them the importance of our water quality. I worked with another school which was (Waipahu Intermediate School) because my project was based in Pouhala Marsh,” said Senior Heyuuikalani Sampaga. “We did a little ground cleanup. There was a service day that went on before the Wednesday and we kind of did a ground cover cleanup for the plants that they planted for the lesson, and the impact that they had on the Pouhala Marsh was that they were able to plant a native plant called Akulikuli that they planted and (took care of).” Senior Tori Yamauchi added, “My project was bringing aquaponics to elementary schools, specifically mililani mauka elementary school, so what I did was I taught kindergarten and first grade special education students about aquaponics and plant sustainability.”
Unlike other science fairs, the YES Future Symposium is not a competition. Webb said, “What separates the YES Future Symposium from a regular science fair is the action, by far. In a regular science fair you just do the scientific inquiry and sometimes the research, but you don’t do anything to help solve the problem. I went to the International Coral Reef Symposium, all these brilliant marine scientists from all over the world were at our convention center. Even they said at professional scientist level, if all you do is the science and you are not using it to impact the health of the reef and to impact policy and to educate the public and to involve the community, it is just nerds talking to nerds. This is just scientists describing themselves.”
There were students in the YES Future Symposium that were invited to the International State Science Fair or were awarded for the scientific portion of their project, but the purpose of the YES Future Symposium is to get students actively involved in helping the community and environment. To go above and beyond merely doing a science fair project; The students are actually going out and cleaning a polluted marsh or teaching the younger generation about the environment.