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 Brockton High School/Wildlands Trust 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 Brockton 2020 Envirothon Video Presentation
- [The message I hear is that] The Covid 19 crisis has caused many issues for our communities, but has also brought an opportunity to be kinder to the environment and to learn from that.
- The pandemic has multiple, interconnected effects on our lives and the natural resources we use. Water is an especially important common thread in the pandemic’s impact.
- our post-COVID-19 world could be greener than before the pandemic if we and employers have the will.
- The group shared an impressive amount of science around the above topics. I would suggest narrowing the focus a bit and then drilling down on that topic. The water sources and practices in Brockton are interesting and seeing how Covid may change that is a really important issue to explore.
- For us, the best part of this presentation was discussion of the challenges of reopening facilities and buildings that have been shut down for extended periods. Problems like flushing out bacterial loads were ideas that we had not previously considered for ourselves. It is good that the students are considering underlying, unintended consequences – whether positive, like wildlife expansion and fuel use reductions – or negative, like impacts on water quality and distribution. We enjoyed the policy analysis discussion based on the graph of Silver Lake water treatment plant outflow in 2019 and 2020, but question whether the conclusions drawn are entirely supportable. However, we applaud the discussion of your hypothesis. We were very impressed with all of the high school students’ presentation skills, which were better than might have been expected from some undergraduate college students. We recommend further sharing of the Brockton team’s work.
- You provided a superb overview of your water supply system and its complicated issues. Colleagues in my office have worked on the Aquarian desalinization plant for years – you brought up the major points in a concise, accurate manner. I would have liked to hear more about your field trip to the desalinization plant; glad you were able to get that in before everything shut down as it must have been very interesting.
- I absolutely think that their recommended actions will be a huge stride towards addressing climate change. Like I said earlier, I wish there was recommendations on the individual level as well as the societal level, so we could each think about what WE can do to help.
- It appeared from the ending credits that the group interviewed local officials about the water situation. I would highlight that more in the video. The credits and the end flipped really quickly so it was hard to take it all in.
- perhaps a survey of their classmates or parents. their presentation was so straight-forward and practical (a good thing!) that some more first hand observations from residents on whether people think there is a problem and if they are willing to make changes in the future might be a great way to educate the community and see which recommendations will actually be made by people.
- It looked like you contact a few different departments to get some information. Great job on reaching out to Brockton Departments!
- all of their segments seemed to be well researched. nice job!
- The discussion of water usage in Brockton and potential water quality issues caused from water stagnation was brilliantly supported with research. The effects of staying at home on wildlife was also well supported. with lots of good examples.
- I wanted more explanation of the graphs of 2019 and 2020 water use. It looked to me like water use was down in 2020 even before the pandemic. I would like to hear more analysis of why water use is down, and whether residential use is actually up during the pandemic.
- Good job thinking about a variety of issues and incorporating the pandemic. You all should be proud that you persisted and did the presentation – many others opted not to!