Jonny Cohen

16-year-old founder, GreenShields

Jonny Cohen is a 16-year-old from Illinois.

Walking home from school one day in seventh grade, he noticed school buses spewing exhaust, polluting the air. They are old and poorly designed. Jonny had recently taken a saturday science class in aerodynamics at Northwestern University, and he thought the design could be improved. Newer buses are more efficient, but he thought it would be unrealistic to think that school districts would have enough money to buy all-new school fleets. He asked himself, "Could retrofitting existing school buses with an aerodynamically shaped shield redirect the airflow, decrease drag and increase gas mileage, saving money for schools and decreasing CO2 emissions?" Then it hit him -- GreenShields! Through his project GreenShields, Jonny has been able to use science to help the environment. Because of GreenShields, he hopes schools can save gas and pollute a little less.

School buses currently get five to eight mpg. There are approximately 500,000 school buses on the road each year daily during the school year. GreenShields is trying to increase the gas mileage of school buses because they serve as transportation to thousands of schools across the nation. If made more efficient, buses could slow carbon emissions and, because of rising gas prices, schools could save money on gas and have more for education. Although Jonny is just 16, he believes that we all must push ourselves to be more and do more. Kids need to think about science and the environment. To spread the word, he gave presentations at Ashoka/Youth Venture Summits at the University of Miami (2010) and Marquette University (2011). He spoke at Brown University’s Symposium for Social Action (November 2010) and Northwestern’s Opportunities for the Future Conference (June 2011). I am going to speak this summer at a conference at Northwestern University again.

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