Attentive Energy Reflects on a Successful NYC Student Day

November 14, 2022

On Saturday November 5th, Attentive Energy partnered with SUNY Maritime College and Horizons National to host the inaugural “NYC Student Day: Youth Power and Offshore Wind.” This partnership brought middle school students from underserved communities across New York City to the SUNY Maritime campus in the Bronx to engage in an immersive exploration of the offshore wind and maritime industries as well as related career pathways. Students also had the opportunity to connect directly with Attentive Energy team members on their roles in offshore wind and how they got there from past experiences.

Throughout the day, students had the opportunity to:

  1. Pilot a virtual vessel through an offshore wind farm in a bridge simulator;
  2. Get a glimpse into the job of a Wind Turbine Technician by climbing up wind turbines through virtual reality headsets;
  3. Build model wind turbines to demonstrate how wind energy is captured and converted to electricity;
  4. Experience the Billion Oyster Project’s oyster reefs in the East River via boat.

Following a successful program, Attentive Energy, SUNY Maritime, and Horizons obtained valuable feedback from all the students as well as educators. Here’s what we learned:

  • Based on a rating scale of 1 (negative) to 5 (positive), 75% of student responses rated the overall programming with a strong 5 and the remaining 25% rated the day with a solid 4.
  • Nearly 70% of students indicated they learned a lot about offshore wind, from power generation to turbine size.
  • Nearly 70% of students also indicated they were interested in an offshore wind career.
  • Nearly 80% of students noted interest in making the environment healthier.

In total, the students’ favorite activity was observing oyster reefs and learning about their support in improving water quality, followed by the virtual vessel navigation and Wind Turbine Technician simulation. Most students noted having more time within each activity would have been beneficial for them to thoroughly explore the virtual programming. The primary takeaway here is that hands-on learning is critical for this new industry and we need to make sure there is enough time to dive into the full experience within a program – real world exposure leaves a lasting impression on the student and creates long-term familiarity with the content and opportunity.

Here’s what else we learned:

  • Representation in the classroom matters. The diversity of the partnership team on the ground helped foster genuine connections with the students and provided real points of reference into what offshore wind professionals can look like. It matters who is facilitating and developing the programming and content.
  • Virtual reality is an excellent way to take a break from the traditional classroom setting and pique student interest in learning – especially for engaging with abstract concepts like offshore wind and maritime that they are learning for the very first time in some cases.
  • Students must be engaged on these topics early and often. NYC Student Day was an excellent opportunity for students to get initial exposure into these industries and it will be important to continue educational partnerships to introduce offshore wind into the curriculum for ongoing learning.
  • It’s important to start with a broad and diverse group of students but then as you measure interest levels in the follow up, it’s as important to funnel the group of students that are more engaged than others with additional programming and experiences to keep that overall interest growing and create a long-term relationship with offshore wind content. Continue the engagement throughout their time at school and never stop incorporating their views and feedback.
  • Engaging parents in the learning process is beneficial for continuous cultivation of student interest in these topics and bringing new knowledge into local communities. Students were provided with offshore wind materials that they were eager to take back home.

The Attentive Energy team would like to extend a huge thank you to SUNY Maritime and Horizons National for their partnership in bringing students closer to the offshore wind and maritime industries. NYC Student Day affirmed that young people are interested in fighting climate change but are lacking the proper avenues and tools to participate in positive action. The prioritization of early K-12 engagement in offshore wind is paramount to forging a new industry, strengthening our communities, creating a future workforce, and achieving our shared climate and economic goals. Our team looks forward to continued engagement with the youth community on offshore wind careers and ensuring all communities, particularly those that have been historically excluded, are present for offshore wind’s multi-decade opportunity.