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 Newton North 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 Newton North 2020 Envirothon Video Presentation
- I thought the way the team presented their material was excellent. Although the topic was very difficult to describe in terms of envirothon topic areas, the suggestions at the end of the presentation were terrific!
- The portion on “ecosystem” impacts could have been more powerful if it was more factual – using/citing statistics instead of anecdotes. The use of the term “ecosystem” in this context was also a bit problematic. Ecosystem is a broad word that is not quite the specificity you were describing; I believe you were going more for something like “wildlife” or “air quality.”
- Again, super job under the cloud of the pandemic. Thank you for putting in the hard work preparing for the Envirothon. Stay well.
- design for a simple self-watering system for gardens that may be forgotten during the pandemic.
- They cite two examples of local rainwater irrigation systems. I’ve seen a non-drip system in a permaculture book. Also liked the idea of picking up trash if you are wearing gloves because this was set up earlier with information on improper disposal of masks and gloves.
- yes, I particularly like how community members are reaching out to help others become more resilient
- The recommendation addresses the need for more community self-reliance and independence, yes. Growing more local produce can help cut down on greenhouse gases because there is less need to source products from other areas.
- This is a small piece of the problem, but solving it is an example of resilience. I would have welcomed some big picture analysis of the problem, as well.
- Good info presented on increase in waste generation (PPE, additional packaging from more home deliveries of goods).
- Seems like some good research was done on the self-watering systems, but it would be helpful to see some plans/diagrams.
- The seriousness of the message [will stick with me longest]. The stark examples that were given.
- The info on the food waste is mind-boggling, although I have read similar things. The self-watering system is intriguing and something to consider!
- I want to find out more about the local farm’s online classes! I’m trying to grow more of my own food as a result of seeing current and future shortages,
- The team presentation was nicely delivered, extremely cohesive, great flow from member to member.
- I appreciated that they had one tangible, easily accomplished, action item for the viewers.
- It was clear from the beginning introduction to the graphic on the end, with everyone’s faces in the sunflowers, that this was a group effort. Nice job recognizing your teacher as well!
- Since each presenter was presenting from home (because of social distancing), it was hard to s how much people worked together. There was some repetition of impacts of covid on the environment, and coordination and flow of ideas could have been better/more succinct. But overall it was very comprehensive, and clearly the students did work together to cover a lot of topics!
- The whole team presented. It appears they each did a section of research
- What can your community do to further foster the positive changes that have resulted from the response to the pandemic?
- Curious to hear other suggestions that they might have regarding how we can lessen our environmental impact.
- The team’s awareness of the need to support local farms and businesses was refreshing, as well as their consideration given to the increased use of toxic chemicals to address sanitizing (getting away from green cleaning products).
- I believe the team could have dug a little deeper in their research; that being said, their issue is developing minute by minute – very much a moving target with both good and bad information out there, very hard to choose what is really valid at any one instant.
- I was impressed by the number of different positive and negative environmental impacts that the group had thought of.
- Was pleased to see the tie in to the original water shed topic, tied closely to COVID.
- Images of the self-watering system would have really helped, also an indication that Newton Parks peopel were interested and recognized the issue
- It was unclear where much of the information was coming from. It was also unclear how the rain barrel system could be set up (lacking visuals).
- What are the references?
- I think better use of visuals would have aided in getting their points across more effectively.
- The team focused on the “act locally” admonition. I would also have liked to hear more about how they think we should think and act globally.
- I really do think the self-watering systems should be put in place in all communities!! Had never thought of this before.
- Great ideas presented here! Be proud of yourselves; I love that you took on this challenge and chose to adapt your presentation to address the pandemic in your community.
- Your enthusiasm, creativity and confidence can bring lasting change.
- Great job overall! This is a good overview of the ways that the coronavirus interacts with environmental issues. I appreciate the analysis of the positive and negative impacts discussed, and the solutions provided. I liked the self-watering rain barrel community garden idea that was proposed, but I would have liked to see a more detailed outline or diagram of the idea. In general, more specific references to scientific studies about the impacts of the coronavirus crisis on the environment would have been helpful. This mostly seemed anecdotal, although I am sure much research was done to learn this information. I can tell that the group worked hard to create this video and have participation from everyone. Nice work!
- They did well, maybe trying to cover too much ground by talking about COVID and environmental issues while also touching on watershed issues. However, appreciated that their action item tied the two together.