PacSci Perspectives


Local Teens Leave Lasting Mark On Pacific Science Center

by | Jan 22, 2018

Michaela Leung, Wesley George and Daniel Piacitelli

Meet Michaela Leung, Wesley George and Daniel Piacitelli: three local high school seniors, and members of Pacific Science Center’s Discovery Corps program. Discovery Corps is a youth development program that puts youth ages 14-18 on the front line of our mission where they build science literacy, gain professional and life skills, and are exposed to a variety of STEM professions. Participants enhance their presentation technique and public speaking abilities, complete research internships at local universities, and are given access to a vast network of alumni, all while fostering a love for science.

These three Discovery Corps teens are also part of the Seattle Youth Climate Action Network, a joint program through the Science Center, Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo, that empowers teens to address climate change in their communities through education, leadership, and action. Workshops, trainings and other events are held monthly to connect teens with local climate experts and support action campaigns. This program inspired Leung, George and Piacitelli to spearhead a sustainability project, one that would both improve Seattle’s sustainability and create awareness for the public.

Because of the connections and resources available to the trio through Discovery Corp, they chose to focus their project on the Science Center. After some research, they decided to take on a task that had been contemplated before, but never fully realized: making use of the Science Center’s unused roof by installing solar panels. They spent over a year on the project, meeting with senior administration, contacting solar panel installers to collect estimates, and researching grant opportunities. Ultimately, they chose to apply for Seattle City Light’s Green Up Grant, a voluntary program which allows City Light customers to support renewable energy and development education.

When asked why solar panels were such an appealing project, the teens responded that it was in line with the Science Center’s guiding principles. As an organization, the Science Center aims to run a smart and responsible business and be leaders in socially and ecologically responsible behavior. With solar panels, the Science Center takes one more step towards an even more sustainable footprint. The solar panels also offer more opportunities to educate guests about solar and other types of renewable energy, aiding the Science Center in its quest to serve as a community laboratory and living room. “Pacific Science Center is a place where people go to learn about science. It’s important for it to be at the forefront of things like sustainability,” said Leung. The trio’s hard work paid off: in September 2017, the Science Center was awarded $164,851 to install solar panels through the Green Up Grant. As for the future of sustainability at the Science Center, Leung hopes that this grant is just the beginning. She hopes the Science Center will find more funding for even more solar panels and offer more education on climate change.

George, Piacitelli and Leung will all be graduating high school this spring. Their time in Discovery Corps has helped them gain valuable skills for the future, and discover what they’re most interested in. “I’ve been given access to multiple disciplines of science. This program acts as a taste test of a bunch of different areas to see what is interesting to us,” said Piacitelli. While these three will soon graduate from Discovery Corps, they have certainly left their mark on the Science Center.