SCH Lower School parent and president of Cross River Infrastructure Partners, Aaron Ratner, was invited by the science department in keeping with their focus of making science relevant and engaging for students and to connect with our cutting-edge curriculum. Aaron spoke to 55 of our 11th grade honors biology students and 10 of our CEL capstone students who are developing projects related to sustainability.
Mr. Ratner was asked to visit SCH because of his work in developing and investing in the distribution of climate technologies for sustainable infrastructures. Essentially, Aaron works with climate entrepreneurs, developers, and corporate partners to build scalable companies, agricultures, and projects worldwide (from Bangladesh to Boston). He explained that by using his expertise in investing in infrastructure and energy-related businesses and his interest in sustainability, he figured out how to partner with industries to reduce their impact on the global environment. From smaller nonprofits such as BeeFlow in South America, working on pollinating farms, to Colorado-based refineries looking to reduce their carbon footprint (carbon-intensive industries seeking to decarbonize their operations), Aaron said it’s really about finding the issue and partnering with the company that helps offer a solution.
Our 11th-grade students were recently tasked by bio teacher and department chair Scott Stein to create a “climate change podcast” where, in this scenario, they are “in charge” and have to create climate change solutions in their town, city, country, or government. One example is in Winslow Tracy’s podcast where she imagines, as leader of the United States, that her focus is on the sector that contributes the most to CO2 emissions: transportation (listen here). Another example is Nora Eliot’s version of 2050 and remembering back to climate change as a teenager, wishing that this country had enforced mandatory climate and carbon emission policies (listen here) so that crises such as food shortage, air quality, and flooding are less of a crisis.
And those who attended from 10th grade were students actively working on their capstone projects that involve a sustainable element in the social impact lab:
A machine that will suck/remove oil from the surface of the ocean.
A new plastic polymer that can be decomposed within 10 hours if placed in a temperature of 70 degrees celsius.
A business that will supply clean reused water bottles to the city of Philadelphia.
All in all, there was A LOT to take away from the work that entrepreneurs such as Mr. Ratner are doing for climate change. At the end of the Q & A where bio students chimed in to ask how he got involved in this work, Aaron said candidly, “It comes from partnering with the experts in these fields and connecting them to the companies that need the help. I can only do so much for the planet in my lifetime. It’s up to the next generation, to you guys, to pick up where I leave off. You all have the ability to help as long as you have the interest.”