Students Do The Teaching at Unique Energy Summit

A student skit on “Hydrogen Hero,” a student-built hydrogen combustion engine and a debate on hydrogen versus gasoline cars were just a few of the projects highlighted at Progress Energy’s YES Summit held at the University of Central Florida on April 20.

The student-led event, kicked-off by a rousing energy cheer from elementary school students, was designed to let students from elementary through high school take the energy-related concepts they had studied during the year — especially in renewable energy and hydrogen — and share that knowledge with the community to reduce our nations energy use.

Susan Schleith of the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), who directed coordination of the Summit and related workshop activities, noted that “This was really a very inspiring event. We had more than 120 students from five schools around Central Florida putting together a variety of fascinating educational approaches to help them inform other students and community members about the benefits of the technologies and why they are important to their future. We were all amazed at the great job these future leaders did.”

Participants included students and teachers from Polk Avenue Elementary in Polk County, Durrance Elementary in Orange County, J.W. Mitchell High School in Pasco County, Lakewood High School in Pinellas County and Nature Coast Technical High School in Hernando County.

As part of the activities, teachers participated in a two-day workshop presented by FSEC on solar thermal energy, photovoltaics, building energy efficiency and hydrogen. They were also given curriculum materials for use in their classes and a wide variety of educational materials to help meet the growing interest in energy in science, geography, economics and other courses.

Schleith added that it was clear that “the work the students did in preparing for the event showed them that we really have a lot of options for preparing for our future energy needs. And listening to the comments from the community members who attended, everyone learned a great deal about the energy sources that can be used to help lower our energy use, save money and really help the environment.”

For more information on this program and other student energy activities, contact

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, fuel cells and other energy areas. For more information about the center, visit or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at (321) 638-1015.