PITTSBURG, Kans. — On a typical summer vacation you might be traveling, swimming, or just taking it easy.

Some local high school and college students are taking a different approach.

“He said ‘I think you should do this,’ and I’m like ‘Hey why not?’ Something new, something different,” said Homer Oferrell, PSU Freshman.

After hearing about it his senior year at Pittsburg High School, Homer Oferell decided to join several other area high school students and recent graduates at the Kansas Polymer Research Center.

There, they began to look into efficient forms of green energy like fuel cells, batteries, or supercapacitors.

“Some people have been doing this for a long time and they’ve shown me what something is, what it isn’t,” said Oferrell.

“I actually kept working through the school year. I would come after school so it just felt right to do it again and I really wanted to see this project through. I didn’t want to leave off halfway,” said Anjali Gupta, PHS Senior.

For these students, a major goal has been to find a way to make these energies more accessible.

“They don’t work in every area of the world because of temperature and they’re also very expensive and hard to charge, so it would make it a lot quicker to charge electric cars and make it a lot easier to use it in various places,” said Cassia Allison, PHS Senior.

One of those efforts has been using trash to create batteries.

“We can use face masks and recycle them to make batteries. This would help with the PPE waste and with rising gas prices,” said Gupta.

But for now, their time in the lab is helping these seniors prepare for their own futures.

“After high school, I’m thinking about going into a research job. So, this really helps get me some experience for that,” said Gupta.

“Being able to do my part, it makes me feel better about my part of the world and it makes me hopeful for what I do in the future,” said Allison.