Over 170 students and teachers from 15 schools throughout southwest, west-central and central Minnesota gathered at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center on October 22nd for the eighth annual YES! Fall Summit. This year’s Summit provided a variety of energy-related experiences around the theme Explore. Excite. Engage. Throughout the day, students were able to connect with their peers, resource experts, and information to position themselves for success as they prepare to engage in team-based projects that not only lead to dramatic demonstrations of renewable energy technology and conservation practices, but also build student skills like problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and project management.
Rotating through two morning breakout sessions, students participated in a Projects, Posters, and Planning activity and a session on Community Connections and Communications. The Projects, Posters and Planning session happened quickly but produced cool results. The teams created posters in 15 minutes that depicted their past projects. Teams then had the opportunity to explore the posters made by each of the other teams and ask questions. Using sticky notes posted directly on other team’s past project posters students identified questions, suggestions, and potential collaborations with other team projects. It was great to see the students become the experts on their own projects while presenting to other teams. In the end teams left the session with their own future project poster and connections that will make accomplishing that project fun!
During the Community Connections & Communications session students explored and mapped their existing community networks to develop a better understanding of the assets and resources available to them. Teams then got a chance to hone their communications skills by identifying media and outreach opportunities and practicing an “elevator speech”. The session finished with a riveting round of the Game of Sustainable Futures, in which teams authored and shared creative stories of successful projects in the face of outrageous, random scenarios.
Teams left filled with energy, inspiration, and ideas for energy-related projects to tackle in their schools and communities this school year!