My name is Alexander Lewton and I’m a rising senior at Walter Johnson High School. I became familiar with the Peer Outreach With Energy Resources (P.O.W.E.R.) program via an email sent out by my school’s College/Career Coordinator, and decided to apply seeing as it matched my interests and seemed like a valuable opportunity to work in the community. The program itself sees high school students from across the county work together throughout the school year to plan and present an interactive presentation centered around energy conservation and environmental mindfulness to young children as part of the summer reading program and Montgomery County Public Libraries. It is headed by Diane Lill of the Audubon Naturalist Society, Larissa Johnson of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, and Caroline Dinh, a freshman at the University of Maryland College Park who participated in the program years prior.
At the core of the P.O.W.E.R program are the weekly meetings, which this year were held over Zoom due to the pandemic. Engaging with fellow high schoolers from a range of grades and towns across the county, we learned about energy production, habitat conservation, and a variety of programs and initiatives underway across DMV working towards a greener future. The most fascinating activity was working with the infrared camcorders, a novel device that allowed us to enter any space and determine the efficiency of any lightbulb simply through viewing the lenses. In real time, I was able to quickly determine which light bulbs in my house were inefficient, energy wasting incandescent bulbs and replace them with much cleaner LEDs.
Over the course of the year we developed this year’s P.O.W.E.R. presentation, Oceans of Possibilities. We selected every elementary schooler’s favorite subject – pirates – to be the theme of our presentation, and I’m really proud of the action packed, fun filled swashbuckling adventure that we have in store for our participants. They’ll play games, learn a lot about how energy is made, and maybe even find a little bit of buried treasure. It’s an all around great experience, and definitely one that I know I would have loved as a young kid.
While my decision to apply came as a result of my deep seated interest in environmental science and environmental conservation, the most rewarding part of P.O.W.E.R. came in an area I didn’t expect. No amount of learning about the electrical efficiency of appliances or water efficiency of showerheads came close to the incredibly enlightening experience of actually getting to interact with young children and see that they can become just as excited about making a difference for their planet as getting to meet Earl the electric eel (ok, maybe not as excited. But it’s close!). Seeing their passion and enthusiasm makes me hopeful for our future and has inspired me to pursue more opportunities to engage in energy conservation and interact more with young children.
Sure, for these kids it’s just one afternoon. But hey, everybody gets their start somewhere, right?
Blog post written by Alexander Lewton, P.O.W.E.R. Student 2021-2022 and Rising Senior at Walter Johnson High School.