In response to the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020, the Massachusetts Envirothon program replaced its annual large outdoor in-person competition with an experiment in online team presentations.
We told teams that this was not intended to be an academic exercise; we were asking them to produce a video that presented a message they felt was important for their communities to hear. We provided a review process to provide feedback that would help them sharpen and clarify their presentations if they chose.
The Acton Boxborough High School Envirothon team took us up on the challenge. Their video is linked above. A sample of review comments on their presentation is below.
Sample reviewer comments on Acton Boxborough 2020 Envirothon Video Presentation
- Acton Boxboro students have done an excellent job highlighting an ongoing conversation about water use from Nagog Pond, a pressing environmental concern relevant to their local community. Their presentation sheds light on the importance of cross-community dialogue, sustainable resource management, and the relationship between local political/judicial processes and environmental stewardship.
- Thank you for this detailed and focused presentation. Your team has shown skill in identifying a key environmental issue in your community and offering historical and scientific information which could be used to inform your community and advocate for equitable access to a vital natural resource. I also applaud your balanced approach to naming and exploring the impact of coronavirus without letting it derail your scientific inquiry into an environmental concern. Great work!
- This presentation is very well done! I didn’t know that water supply was such an issue in that area, or that there was a conflict over Nagog Pond. I found the video very informative about water supply in a local context, and appreciated the group’s efforts to situate the issue in the context of watershed science. I also appreciated the historical background. One missing piece of background could be how the prospects of water supply for Acton could change under different climate change scenarios. This could have helped tie the issue to the idea of resilience. Soil and forest loss weren’t mentioned either, but are related to water supply. For example, development in the Acton area could cause forest loss and soil erosion, which could degrade the water quality or reduce the amount of water captured by the watershed, posing a threat to groundwater or Nagog Pond. Nice job finishing the presentation with a call to action! Overall, excellent job! I love that this high school group found as issue right in their community to focus on.
- Citizen awareness is certainly an important step in being able to successfully address an environmental issue, but then what? Reaching collaborative solutions to ensure sustainable future water supplies for Action, Littleton, and Concord would be the preferred way to go, as your presentation points out, but do you have any suggestions regarding what win-win-win solutions might work?
- This recommendation is a great first step that does begin to address the heart of the problem. Political participation, community dialogue and environmental advocacy are effective ways to mobilize people towards the vision for a sustainable future that we are building. In order to navigate these times we will need the community engagement these students are calling for.
- More direct scientific literature or government agency documents could have been used as background. If a website or news article references a primary source, they could go to that source instead of referencing the website/news.
- A source to present Concord’s viewpoint would help.
- Quote for environmental impact statements that have been created during this dispute.
- maybe a bit more on problems with extracting groundwater above the Mass. recommended safe yield. This was a bit brief.
- Would have been interesting to hear from Concord officials to see why they feel that building a treatment plant that can divert twice the safe yield from Nagog Pond is a good thing. Since Great Ponds are considered a resource of the Commonwealth, would also be interesting to see what the Massachuetts agencies have to say. If the new treatment plant is built, it would seem like Nagog Pond would be drawn down to the point where there could be no flow in Nagog Brook, which would have a serious adverse effect on the coldwater fishery.
- This is an exceedingly well researched and presented issue!! Whenever I had a question, it seemed like the narrator anticipated it and then answered it.
- What will really stick for me is seeing the way that in the face of a rapidly changing world this team was able to deliver a well researched and organized presentation that is so ecologically relevant. The question of providing access to clean drinking water promises to be a pressing concern to 21st century life, this team has shown how youth from a community can engage in managing their own resources equitably and inclusively.
- Their “future planning” discussion at the end was a bit rushed – curious minds want to know what happens with Nagog Pond!
- What solutions to augmenting the current water supplies could be made so that all three towns can have sustainable future water supplies? Would the Commonwealth have to approve the new water treatment plant on Nagog Pond? If so, would it likely approve the capacity that is twice the safe yield from Nagog Pond?
- How would Concord’s proposed treatment plant affect Acton and LIttleton other than by increasing Concord’s draw on Nagog Pond?
- I was impressed that it included some civics! How town government needs to play a more productive role.
- I wondered how the team could make another video of this but speak slower, a little louder, and either remove or significantly soften the music so they can be heard. i would love it if they were in my town and could make a video like that for all town departments to share on their social media outlets and even include smaller clips of that discussion for public outreach. i think they have a great education piece for all residents.
- I would encourage any of the team members to continue engaging with this issue in the future. To become involved in a local political dialogue like this would be a meaningful way to take action as budding environmental stewards. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to see this project though to a strong finish.