Powering tomorrow, here at Si

Earth was created around 4.5 billion years ago, and Earth’s climate has been changing ever since. However, with each significant change in temperature, a mass extinction event followed. In just one example, 70 percent of land plants and animals along with 84 percent of ocean organisms died roughly 251 million years ago during a global warming episode. Clearly, climate change has devastating effects on life here on Earth.

For this reason, the current global warming is incredibly frightening. Our human ancestors, at 400,000 years of age, are fairly recent arrivals to Earth. However, in our short time on this planet, we humans have rapidly accelerated the rate of climate change by burning fossil fuels for energy, thereby releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that trap heat into the atmosphere. Already, it is estimated that current-day global warming has killed more than 500 species of animals, and humans could be the next victims of extreme weather events, fires, floods, famine, social instability, mass migration and wars resulting from climate change. Leading scientists believe that transitioning the world to renewable energy can stop and possibly reverse climate change, reducing existential risk to humanity. So, the fight to transition to green energy is possibly a fight for the future of humanity.

Among those who have taken up this fight are SI students and brothers Jacob and Ari Bushler. Two years ago, they founded Powering Tomorrow (www.poweringtomorrow.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to educating elementary and middle-school children about climate change and green energy science, thereby inspiring the next generation of climate and green energy leaders. Prior to co-founding Powering Tomorrow, Jacob and Ari were deeply concerned by climate change for many years as a result of seeing constant media headlines about the negative impacts of global warming. However, it was Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the homeland of Jacob and Ari’s parents, which served as a catalyst for them launching Powering Tomorrow in 2022. This invasion brought into focus the fact that fossil fuel-funded dictatorships like Putin’s Russia not only lead the world to a climate catastrophe, but also use profits from oil and gas to attack their neighbors, fund terrorism and instability, and threaten democracies around the world. This gave Jacob and Ari the urgency to try and do something towards the goal of de-funding these petro-terrorists through the transition to green energy.

In an effort to inspire the next generation to embrace green energy, Ari and Jacob began providing a free, hands-on, gamified and simplified after-school energy science program called the Green Energy Challenge Workshop to San Francisco elementary and middle schools. Starting with a partnership with Kittredge School, and staffed by volunteer high school student educators from St. Ignatius (and soon expanding to other high schools), this program has become a big hit with elementary and middle school students, principals, teachers, and parents at a growing number of schools in San Francisco. The SI Advancing Renewable Energy Club chapter of Powering Tomorrow now has over 30 members interested in teaching opportunities and multiple trained and dedicated instructors and leaders, including Will Innes, Alexander Hughes, and Alton Tse.

Thanks to these SI volunteers, the Green Energy Challenge Workshop has now expanded and developed strong partnerships with the following schools in San Francisco: Kittredge School, Fr. Sauer Academy, Saint Brigid School, Brandeis School, Glen Park Elementary School, and De Marillac Academy. They are expecting to launch an additional program at San Francisco Day School in the fall and are in discussions to expand the program to an additional 27 schools in San Francisco in the next 12 months! Recognizing that climate change disproportionately impacts poor, minority and other underprivileged communities, the team is especially proud to be running Green Energy Challenge Workshop programs this summer for students at Fr. Sauer Academy and De Marillac Academy in the Tenderloin, schools which serve kids from under-resourced communities.

Given the rapid expansion of the program, the Advancing Renewable Energy Club at SI is currently looking for additional volunteer teachers. Anyone who is interested in being part of the climate change solution while gaining valuable leadership and STEM skills can reach out to Jacob at jbushler25@siprep.org, or Ari at abushler26@siprep.org.

Written by: Jacob Bushler ‘25 and Ari Bushler ‘26