Envirothon places first in state, advances to North American competition


Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Envirothon.

Jackie Gong

Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Envirothon.
Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Envirothon.

by Jackie Gong
This school’s Envirothon team, a branch of science team, took first place out of 30 teams at the Massachusetts Envirothon competition for the fourth year in a row, allowing them to advance to the North American Envirothon competition in July. The competition was at Quabbin Reservoir Thursday, May 14, according to a statement released by the team.
The team, co-captained by seniors Kaija Gahm and Kavish Gandhi, includes seniors Kirby Broderick and Rudy Gelb-Bicknell, juniors Bowen He and Amy Huang, sophomore Iris Liao, and freshmen Jessica Chen and Lucy Lu. The team’s coach is science teacher Ann Dannenberg.
According Gandhi, five members of the team will travel to Springfield, Missouri to represent Massachusetts at the 2015 North American Envirothon competition July 27 through Aug. 2. The team has done very well in years past, placing thirteenth in 2012, and second in 2013. Due to a lack of sponsorship, the competition did not run last year.
The competition mainly consisted of two parts: four ‘eco-stations,’ including written questions and hands-on activities such as soil analysis or water quality measures, and a 15-minute Current Environmental Issue presentation given to a panel of judges.
The team took first place in the wildlife, soils, and forestry eco-stations, and third place in aquatics. The team also tied for third place in the current issue presentation, according to the statement.
The team studied for the eco-stations and contacted people for the presentation, starting very early towards the beginning of the school year, said Gahm. “We assigned everyone one eco-station that they would focus on and each week they would give a presentation to the other students,” she said. “For the current issue, we began by emailing people in Newton involved in combatting climate change.”
For this year’s current issue, “Climate Crisis: Taking Action in Massachusetts Communities,” the team created a promotional video for the Newton Solar Challenge to mitigate climate change, and talked about creating a more energy-efficient community through public education and government regulation. The team met with John Tourtelotte, the leader of Newton Solar Challenge, who suggested the idea of the video.
The team plans to prepare for the North American competition by holding meetings to study the five eco-stations and the current issue, urban forestry, in a similar way they studied for the state competition.
Overall, Gahm has been very happy with this year’s team. “We got a lot of people involved this year, especially freshmen and sophomores and people who had not been involved in previous years,” she said. “I think everyone learned a lot, [and] I’m happy to think that the team will be strong in the next couple years.”
Reflecting on her time on the team, Gahm encourages people to join the team. The material she has learned on the team has helped her in the classroom, and has also made her likely to “pursue a career in some type of biology,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of great experience, learned how to give a killer presentation, and teamwork skills.”