Describe the work you’ve done related to the environment and climate change.
Well, my work really started in the sixth grade (when) I became interested in fuel cell technology. My interest came after watching ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ by Al Gore and after watching that documentary, I wanted to see what kind of alternative energy types there are. I am the generation of the future, so why not start now? When I was researching alternative energies, I came across fuel cell technology somehow. (I thought), why can’t we use this to fuel our cars because it’s so practical? The issue is cost and we can definitely improve that technology, so I actually did research fuel cell technology for five years. I started it my sixth grade year and ended the project my tenth grade year.
Pavane presents her research on fuel cell technology
I researched how we can make fuel cells more feasible and implement them into future cars. For my research, I was able to travel to international science fairs and symposiums to present. I was able to meet with scientists and talk with them and present research to other students who are interested in helping the environment and are also interested in fuel cell technology.
The fuel cell technology research ended and the conclusions I came up with were that this is a very feasible option and the only problem that’s an obstacle is the issue of cost.
Fuel cell vehicles are currently being researched, but the technology remains expensive.
Around the same time, my interest really shifted from just alternative energy to educating our peers and inspiring teens to make a difference for their world. That is when I founded my nonprofit organization ‘Warning about Warming.’ Through this organization, I was able to start projects in my local community and other communities. The real goal of the nonprofit organization is to inspire teens to make a difference in their own community on environmental issues.
What are some examples of projects your environmental club accomplished?
Some of the projects that I did were distributing environmentally friendly grocery shopping bags that you could reuse. We also did a similar campaign called green bottles. I saw a major problem at our school where plastic bottles were lying around everywhere, constantly being used and purchased every single day, and that just seemed like such a waste to me. Our most recent project was an idling initiative last year. A major problem in our school that I saw was parents, while they are waiting for their kids, relentlessly idling the car. I thought, this is not just an environmental issue, it’s also a health concern because of the pollutants that are coming out of the car. I approached my principal and talked to him about the idea of implementing a ‘no idling zone’ within our school and we were able to get that accomplished as well.
I also published a children’s book called ‘A Buzzy Bee Tale.’ I’m inspiring teens and I wondered, why isn’t this inspiration coming sooner? Why aren’t people more interested at a young age? I thought a children’s book would be perfect and so my classmate and I worked together to create this and it’s actually being sold on a self- publishing website. I was able to take some books to China and India and some other places around the United States.
I was also invited to the White House to meet EPA Director Lisa P. Jackson and talk to her about my ideas. I was able to meet with her and I was able to meet with senators and even President Obama, that was an incredible experience.
Pavane and fellow youth scientists meet with President Obama at the White House.
What was the most rewarding moment in all of the projects that you’ve done?
I think everything that I’ve done has helped me to develop in some way or another and has helped me progress to be the leader that I want to be in this movement. If I had to pick one movement that really stood out and made an impact on my life, it would be when I went to Washington, D.C. and was able to meet these policymakers and leaders of change. It wasn’t so much meeting the person as being there and seeing that an individual can make a tremendous impact. I think it was then and there that I knew that I wanted to be someone who did that, who instilled change not only in youth but even, hopefully, within the country or within the world.
What was the most challenging part of starting a nonprofit and working on environmental issues?
I definitely think delegating (was a challenge). It’s a new experience, you are a leader and you can’t handle everything on your own. I felt that was probably one of the greatest difficulties that I had to really overcome, being able to learn how to delegate tasks and be able to be that leader.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to continue on my nonprofit through college and then maybe I can start something bigger. I recently traveled to China to research food insecurity and how the environment plays a direct role in it. I researched why the environment is affecting food and security, and how we can improve food production. So, another life-changing moment was (in China) when I saw how much climate change is putting a strain on food resources and on land space. The whole issue of food insecurity is truly detrimental and truly surprising, so continuing that research is something that I want to pursue.
Pavane recently traveled to China to do climate change research.
What advice do you have for other young people who are passionate about an issue?
If you have an idea, take charge and do it because you can accomplish so much. If you have passion for something, that will make it that much more worthwhile and you’ll have that much more fun. One tip that I always want to give people is that if you ask for help, you will always receive help. Ask, because you can accomplish amazing things just with partnership and cooperation.