Adults haven’t solved sea level rise. Can these 8th graders find the answer?

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Hampton Roads community can physically see the effects of sea level rise every time a tropical storm, hurricane or even hard rain hits.  

Roads become impassable, water creeps into homes and cars get stranded in floodwater. 

Brilliant minds and countless dollars have gone into solving the problem, but so far, that’s all come up short. 

So, Portsmouth City Council will soon hear what a group of eighth graders in Portsmouth want to do about it.  

“Just because they’re children doesn’t mean they can’t solve problems or give us solutions to environmental concerns,” said Davina Williams, a science specialist with Portsmouth Public Schools. 

Williams is part of the leadership team of Camp Answer, where STEM students are focused on learning about and coming up with solutions to sea level rise.  

“They’re definitely passionate about it, because it’s their community and they’re going to end up solving it,” Williams said. “They’re going to solve a problem for where they live.” 

Camper Chandler Thompson says he’s missed school because of flooding. Camp Answer helped him see consequences could become more severe. 

“It hit me,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s probably what’s behind big issues like Katrina in New Orleans.’” 

Thompson and the other campers will learn from Williams and fellow science teacher Tiffany Nichols, as well as government officials and experts from local businesses.  

“They can become ambassadors for our city and for our district,” Nichols said. “They can go out and share what they’ve learned about our ecosystem and coastal flooding.” 

At the end of camp, kids will present their ideas to city council. 

Williams and Nichols say council members should be ready to be wowed at their July 29 meeting.  

“I would match our science program against any district,” Williams said.  

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