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Mass Envirothon on energy

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 5:20 pm
by Will Snyder
Every year I develop the "Current Issue" question for the Massachusetts Envirothon, a high school environmental education program that involves teams from about 50 schools and community youth programs. The aim of the Current Issue portion of the competition is to get teams to investigate an important environmental issue as it occurs in their own community, to develop potential solutions and next steps, and to prepare a presentation on their proposal. Often teams take what they have learned and apply it in a community action project.

The 2007 Current Issue is Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy for Massachusetts Communities. You can see the background materials, problem, scoring rubrics for the competition, and information on the noncompetitive Community Research and Community Action awards, at

The reason I'm writing to this group is that we want to develop this information into a more general resource that can be made available to high school groups, whether or not they are Envirothon participants. Your critiques and suggestions are welcome!

I started this year concerned that none of us (not just high school students) is really "getting" the magnitude of the energy challenge. So the Mass Envirothon problem asks teams to develop a plan to cut their community's fossil fuel emissions by 25% in the next five years, and another 50% (a total of 75%) by mid century. We are asking them to use some real numbers and well supported estimates. We are also asking them to use their imaginations to develop a picture of what life will be like under this plan. At this point, a month before their presentations (on May 10, 2007 at Mount Wachusett Community College) I am holding my breath about whether this approach will work.

If you have ways of introducing this very bleak topic in an empowering way, please write!

Will Snyder