In March 2020, the United Kingdom went into lockdown, schools were closed, and exams were cancelled as the country and the world faced its greatest challenge in COVID19 since World War II. With so many students deflated from the removal of their exam goals, we decided to set students in our network a challenge: commit to 8 weeks of on-line training to learn about MIT Sloan's Climate Interactive En-ROADS Climate Change Solutions Simulator. Their goal was investigate what the integrated causes and effects of climate change are, and to work with the model to explore which co-ordinated policies and actions need to be taken to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. We were delighted so many students took on this challenge!
With this new-found knowledge the collective group from 5 schools went on to produce their own TEDx Countdown event, and with the ambition to do more we have worked together to create the Youth Climate Action Network. We sincerely believe that the youth of the world have a significant contribution to make in the fight against climate change. This founding group of young students are evidence of this. This platform will encourage, support, enable and recognise youth contributions to mitigating the effects of climate change.
We all have our part to play. Let’s connect and begin now.
Becky Parker co-founded the Y-CAN initiative with Katherine Priestley in March 2020.
After a physics degree and research at the University of Chicago, Becky taught in a variety of schools and found when she offered genuine research opportunities to her students they thrived in the subject - girls and boys alike. Becky has supported students' work with the UK Space Agency and NASA putting a payload in space, and has developed many research projects with CERN, the Wellcome Trust, UK universities, and research institutes. Becky extended this ground-breaking work by setting up the Institute for Research in Schools in 2015 with the aim to scale up the approach of offering students the chance to do experimental work across the county. The goal was to unleash a huge enthusiasm for authentic science from both school students and teachers alike. Becky’s focus now, in addition to her role as Head of Science and Head of Physics at Benenden school, is to empower young people to innovate and share actions to tackle the climate crisis by helping them release the amazing potential that they have to help fix their future. In recognition of her significant contribution to education, Becky was awarded an MBE in 2008 and Honorary Fellowship of the Institute of Physics. Becky chairs the Education and Outreach committee of the Royal Astronomical Society and is the UK representative on the CERN Teacher Student Forum. Becky is the Visiting Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Queen Mary, University of London. In the summer of 2016, Becky was awarded the Kavli Education Medal from the Royal Society.
Becky became an En-Roads Climate Ambassador with the Y-CAN youth in the summer of 2020!
Becky Parker MBE
Katherine Priestley co-founded the Y-CAN initiative with Dr. Becky Parker in March 2020.
Katherine is the Managing Director of Park Vale Capital Ltd, an investment firm that focuses on
investing in global transformational technology. Especially, in the areas of biotechnology, AI, efficient energy and clean technology. Katherine sits on a number of technology company boards and advisory boards and mentors young entrepreneurs. She also has had the privilege of serving on the advisory Board to the President of the Royal Society since 2010.
Katherine met Becky Parker at TEDx Cern in 2013 and has been a big supporter of her work ever
since. They both joined the NESTA panel to create the pilot program for the Longitude Explorer Prize in 2014. Katherine believes that the single biggest challenge facing humankind today is climate change and believes a recognised youth education program would incentivise young people to take action to a greater effect.
Katherine became an En-Roads Climate Ambassador with the Y-CAN youth in the summer of 2020!
Jackie Flaherty was one of the first teachers to embrace the Y-CAN concept and has been a significant contributor to the success of this first year of learning and building, including her important involvement in the Y-CAN TEDx Countdown. Jackie is a physics teacher and is Director of STEM at Chipping Campden School, a secondary comprehensive school in the North Cotswolds. She set up the STAR (Science Training and Research) Centre there in 2016 which acts as a hub for numerous student and teacher enrichment programmes in partnership with organisations such as ESERO-UK, STEM Learning and IRIS. It is the national hub for Space Camps UK in partnership with the Stephen Hawking Foundation. Jackie firmly believes in education beyond the curriculum and the importance of developing students’ communication skills and has developed a series of student led STEM Clubs both regionally and nationally. Jackie is delighted to be working with Y-CAN and The Royal Institution to develop a series of student led Climate Change Masterclasses to allow young students across age-groups to work together in the vital area of climate change.
Jackie is also the Teaching & Learning Lead for The Ogden Trust with responsibility for designing and delivering their national CPD programmes. She was awarded the Teacher of Physics Award by the Institute of Physics in 2020.
Emma Crisell was one of the first teachers to embrace the Y-CAN concept and has been a significant contributor to the success of this first year of learning and building, including her important involvement in the Y-CAN TEDx Countdown.
Emma is the Deputy Headteacher at Richard Taylor CE Primary School and is Yorkshire Ridings
Primary Maths Mastery Specialist. She feels passionately about supporting young people and providing ways for them to have a voice to express their thoughts and feelings around climate change through education, research and making a difference in their communities. From her wonderful work with Primary school children, she has seen firsthand that when we work together, amazing things are possible.
Sue Harris was one of the first teachers to embrace the Y-CAN concept and has been a significant contributor to the success of this first year of learning and building, including her important involvement in the Y-CAN TEDx Countdown.
Sue Harris is Lead Technician as well as the STEM outreach and project coordinator at Benenden
school in Kent. Sue works with students and universities, to facilitate independent scientific research in the school environment. The passion, creativity, and knowledge that students have is inspiring and Sue is a mentor to students who are interested in undertaking any level of Y-CAN climate engagement. Sue has particular interest in and knowledge of projects that are based on chemistry, green energy development, our oceans and sea level rises, up cycling/recycling and ecology and ecosystems. Sue also won a WISE award in 2019 for her work with STEM projects in schools.
Kaspar is studying for his A levels at King's College Wimbledon. Through studying Math, Further Math, Economics and English and extending learning from science and news publications, he became increasingly aware of and concerned about the effects of climate change, and in particular how it would affect the future of all young people. During 2020 UK lockdown, Kaspar was very grateful for the opportunity to delve into the complexities of the global climate change issues through the 8 week on-line training course offered by MIT Sloane's Climate Interactive on the En-Roads global climate simulator and was pleased to become an Ambassador in the summer 2020. From this work Kaspar has led more than a dozen workshops and presentations of En-Roads to a wide ranging audience including fellow students, teachers, business people, bankers, clean-tech investors and producers in the world of entertainment. Kaspar was proud to contribute to the Y-CAN TEDxCountdown program. Kaspar is currently working with Y-CAN colleagues on developing Youth Education Masterclasses based on the En-Roads model for peer learning which he hopes to present through a number of channels including the Kings School network, the Royal Institution and the Y-CAN platform. Kaspar looks forward to continuing to learn and engage in climate action and in mentoring students who want to get involved. Kaspar has led the design and creation of the Y-CAN website and has researched and written the CC information content, alongside his colleagues.
Fara currently goes to Benenden School in Kent and is in her last year there. As Fara applies for university in America, she is excited to move on to the next chapter of her life. Fara studies Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Philosophy & Religion; she is aspiring to reform the health and education sector of Africa. As a Nigerian, Fara has been exposed to the potential of African nations and is determined to do everything she can to untap that potential. Fara runs a non - profit organization called STEM In Africa (SIA) and their mission is to encourage and galvanise more young African students to go into STEM related careers. SIA does this by hosting events through a well-established mentorship scheme and a radio show. The mentorship scheme focuses on teaching students from local communities how to tackle climate change in Africa and the importance of sustainability. In addition, SIA are building a science hub for students in Nigeria, and this building will be built from repurposed plastic bottles and run on solar energy. This project aims to tackle plastic waste pollution in Nigeria whilst providing a space for their students to be innovative. Fara aims to be the representative of Africa at Y-CAN and inspire other young people to take on climate action however big or small.
Lucas is currently studying for his A levels at King’s College Wimbledon. He takes a combination of Philosophy, Economics, Geography and English, and is a writer for both the Philosophy Journal, The King’s Geographic and Southside Economics Journal. During the first UK lockdown, upon initially becoming interested in energy and the geopolitics behind it's sustainable future, he embarked upon MIT Sloane’s Climate Interactive En-Roads ambassador course. After becoming an ambassador, and achieving full certification, he went on to give numerous virtual talks around the world to leaders in various industries, exploring with them in detail the dilemmas and complexities of the En-Roads climate simulator. Lucas similarly helped lead the Y-CAN TedxCountdown event and has aided in the development, research and writing of the Y-CAN website. Going forward, Lucas and two peers will be leading and curating an international masterclass series in partnership with the Royal Institution, MIT's Climate Interactive, and Y-CAN, in order to spread their acquired knowledge and encourage more young people to tackle climate change and the current energy crisis head on. The masterclass series will be broadcasted to various schools across the world, including institutions in Thailand, Monaco and China. Lucas is also an ambassador for the company Young Professionals, and in his own career hopes to work in the energy industry after attaining a degree in Geography at university and a masters in Geopolitics.
Kate is a student at Chipping Campden Sixth-Form and taking Maths, Physics and Geography at A levels and she is interested in the engineering of the world especially the water systems and natural hazards. So far Kate and a group of students have been involved with the Royal Institution to take part in training for planning and teaching RI masterclasses themed around climate issues. These masterclasses will be shared to younger students across the UK. Kate has worked on the seaweed project with Southampton University and is working with Fara on her plastic bottle collection scheme for Stem in Africa. Kate aims to help Y-CAN in mapping the awards criteria, and the different levels within the scheme, o that there is a broad and well accredited spectrum of recognition for climate projects.
Kates hopes by helping to bring this scheme to life it will create interest and advances in ways we can help reduce our impact on the climate.
Sophia currently studies Biology, Chemistry and Maths at Benenden School. After attending a climate protest a few years ago, Sophia realised that so many people from her generation are also really passionate about the environment, which inspired her to start taking action. Sophia and another student are currently building a wind turbine and installing solar panels to power a telescope, in order to demonstrate that green energy is accessible and convenient. Through Y-CAN, Sophia hopes to support others who are interested in doing projects like this and to connect them with professionals for further guidance.
Rosie is a Climate Ambassador from Chipping Campden School, taking Maths, Physics, Computer Science and Further Maths for her A-levels. Rosie enjoys problem solving and is interested in engineering which she hopes to pursue in the future. The climate crisis has become a large concern globally and Rosie believes that we need to take action now to try to solve these issues. Rosie got involved in this climate programme over the summer, starting off with the En-roads course. After this Rosie attended the seaweed project with Southampton University which helped her with coding and social science skills related to the topic of climate change. She is currently working with the Royal Institution to produce a series of masterclasses that will be presented to primary schools across the UK. She is also helping Fara with her bottle collection scheme over in Nigeria. Rosie aims to help young people complete the Y-CAN programme in the future.
Rafael is currently at King’s College School Wimbledon preparing for his A-levels: Maths, Economics, Geography and Spanish. In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, Rafael found himself engrossed in the climate crisis, its potential long-term effects as well as the solutions of this ever growing and emerging dilemma. He found an output for this concern within the En-Roads training program, undertaking an 8-week online course offered by MIT Sloane, Climate Interactive and Ventana Systems. It was here that he was introduced to the complexities of the global climate solutions, and with this simulator was able to explore combinations of government policy and intervention tackling this international issue. The momentum of becoming an ambassador to En-Roads in summer 2020 pushed Rafael to run more than a dozen climate workshops with two of his colleagues. He was able to present the intricacies of this climate simulator to a variety of audiences ranging from schools to financial analysts and world entertainment producers. Rafael then donated his time and efforts to the TEDx Countdown program. In collaboration with King’s College School, he is now sharing his expertise on the En-Roads model through an masterclass course and will be presenting to a variety of international schools in Monaco, Thailand, China and London. With all this preparation Rafael is now hoping to contribute to the creation of the Y-CAN website, hoping that with his fellow students, they can transform the idea into a platform that is internationally recognised.
Science and climate change have always been some of Alex's main interests, and when Alex joined STEM club in 2019, she learned through research that she could make a small impact on the mitigation of climate change herself. The idea she came up with was to build a biogas generator for the school, which when it’s built will enable the school to produce their very own carbon neutral and environmentally sustainable energy. In the coming years, once it is well established, the generator will help lower our school's carbon emissions immensely.
Emma is an S5 from George Watson’s College. She is currently sitting her Higher exams and her favourite subjects that she is thinking of continuing are English, History and Music. She got involved with climate change through her school’s Eco Group and was keen to get involved when asked to be a part of this group that has formed Y-CAN. At her school she is part of a team of four who are working to create a climate change education website for young children in hope to instill positive climate actions in society from a young age. She aims to help the Y-CAN team to create the best possible climate action and make sure it is wide spread by having a large social media presence. She can’t wait to see what it grows into.
Anna is an S5 student at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh and is studying Highers in Biology, History, Music and English and plays the cello and piano. Anna has been involved with eco projects since primary school and has always enjoyed exploring nature, especially in the highlands and islands of Scotland. She is part of a team within school who are designing a website to help encourage younger students to make conscious decisions when it comes to protecting the environment, as well as bringing to light the unheard struggles of indigenous communities in the face of the climate crisis. She is keen to contribute to Y-CAN by helping to structure the award programme and finding ways to get people involved with climate change as a whole.
Georgia is currently a fifth year student at George Watson’s College, Edinburgh. She is doing five highers in chemistry, biology, geography, maths and English. An active person, Georgia loves swimming and the great outdoors. Georgia became interested in the natural environment at a young age after joining an eco group in primary school. She has since accelerated this passion for protecting nature by getting involved with MIT Sloane's En-ROADS programme over the summer. She’s hoping that through Y-CAN she will be able to educate a wide number of people and get higher numbers of younger students involved in doing their bit for the climate!