Environment and Energy Conference in Obama
Panel Discussion


This year marks the third annual Environment and Energy Conference in Obama.

   

Since last year, a major feature of the conference has been the active involvement of a student planning committee starting from the initial planning stages. This year’s main event was a panel discussion on the theme, “What Will Kansai Be Like in 20 Years? Looking at the Future through Energy.”

Four schools from Fukui participated: ours, Fujishima High School, Koshi High School, and Tsuruga High School. In addition, four schools from outside of Fukui participated: Kyoto Koka High School, Higashi-Maizuru High School, Nishi-Maizuru High School, and Amagasaki-Oda High School. A student planning committee was formed from these eight schools, and the representatives from each school split into three groups, which communicated and shared ideas through e-mail and social networking services. On the day of the event, each group shared its proposal, and began discussing which energy production plan was the best. The three proposals were “Algae Biomass”, “Best Energy Mix”, and “Energy Special District”. Each group presented its proposal and explained why they thought it was the best solution.












Scientist guests picked apart the students’ plans with incisive questions, but the undeterred students upheld the validity of their arguments. Each group had devised a well-refined plan, looking beyond the scope of their school or local area to consider the perspectives of the energy producing and energy consuming areas.

   

Various questions and opinions were offered from the floor, not only by our students but also students from other prefectures. Discussion was particularly active at this year’s event, and all participants left with greater insight into the topic than before.

   

The planning committee unveiled its plan of having everyone present write his or her opinion on a sticky note, all of which were gathered to create a summary of opinions. Each person gave careful thought to what he or she wrote. In response to the opinions of the participating students and scientist guests, the teams revised their plans. After listening to various perspectives, the students incorporated them into their plans and presented them again.

   

After the hand-revised final plans were submitted by each group, the opinions of all present were consolidated, and the state of energy in the Kansai area 20 years in the future was discussed deeply.



It was a very productive two hours. Ms. Hata, the planning advisor, gave the following summary remarks:

At Wakasa High School’s SSH program, our school-wide theme is the environment and energy. As such, the abilities that the students acquire through their SSH classes do not stop at the skills and methodologies of natural science. They acquire the decision-making power and social science background to act as well-rounded, academic citizens. Wakasa High School’s SSH Environment and Energy Conference exemplifies that ideal, and provides an outlet for students to use what they’ve learned. At this year’s conference, through the discussions surrounding the various proposals, the criteria for an effective energy plan began to become clear. However, this was not necessarily effectively conveyed to the students. I hope that in the future, this conference can be an opportunity for both students and adults to develop concrete criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of energy plans and the value of implementing them.

The Environment and Energy Conference is not only a place for students to use what they learned through our school’s SSH program, but it is also a place where they can further develop those skills. What’s more, we are gaining the cooperation of students from other prefectures, adult researchers, local junior high school students, and citizens of the Wakasa area. After hearing Ms. Hata’s speech, we strongly believe that we must continue to improve and develop our program.