Sophomores scramble to meet tight ECP deadlines

Sophomores (from left to right) Max Mellroth, Nick Ankuta, and Malia Houghton rehearse before their ECP presentation
Photo by Ava Yniguez

The annual Environmental Challenge Project (ECP) kicked off 17 April. However, this year’s timeline is different as there is one less week for students to prepare before presenting to the Port of Seattle airport director and their committee.

Sophomore Nick Ankuta feels that having more time to complete the project would have been helpful.

“[The timeline] didn’t affect us much the first week. We didn’t completely know what we were getting into,” said Ankuta. “But two weeks in, we can feel the presentation approaching and we’re both rushed and stressed.”

Groups have had to cope with not having access to the information they need in order to get started on their projects.

It’s been difficult getting all of the information we feel we need. On top of that, figuring out what exactly we need and what is actually important,” said Ankuta. “We’ve had a lot of little ideas that, after a second thought, were actually completely irrelevant.”

Students aren’t the only ones affected by the ECP. The strict timeline has taken a toll on students and teachers alike. Sophomore literature teacher Wayne Storer struggles with balancing his scheduling and the ECP schedule.

“It’s been difficult for me; I’m a planner and I’m really organized; Everything about this feels last minute and massive amounts of changes have had to happen on the fly,” said Storer. “Add that to the fact that I’m teaching a brand new curriculum… because when I finally think I’ve got something down and we have a nice plan, then something in this project changes. I don’t know if anyone could have anticipated [these changes].”

The time constraint have been both restrictive in some ways and helpful in others. Ankuta and his group have explored both aspects of this project.

“The students of our class like doing a good job (my group at least). We hate not being able to explore everything we know we could if we had a little bit more time,” said Ankuta. “The time constraint keeps us from doing the work we want to do. Although on the bright side, that means we’re forced to identify the things most important to us.”

On the other hand, Lena Seidel, a junior at RAHS has a different perspective on the ECP.

“The prompt this year is quite different from last year’s. We had to create a plan to develop three different plots of lands, rather than a renovation,” said Seidel. “While the three week time period is quite a lot shorter, I think that it’s reasonable for this prompt, at least from what I know.”

The timeframe has been shortened on behalf of the Port of Seattle for unclear reasons.

“[The ECP] is much shorter. I think it is, in fact, a week shorter than previous,” said Storer. “The other thing that I’ve heard is that the question this year is the most realistic and the feedback seems to be the most positive compared to previous years.”

Although the timeframe has been altered, there are techniques that Storer says can help students cope better with the time demands.

“I have seen my students work more diligently on this project than anything else. My advice is to ask for help,” said Storer. “Most of these skills other than presentation skills are not things that are in my [expertise].”

In comparison to last year’s problem to solve, Seidel uses her past experiences to understand how this year’s students and time compare.

“I don’t remember exactly how much time we had, but I believe it was between a month and a month and a half from start to finish,” said Seidel. “I felt that my group had enough time to prepare for the final presentation. As long as you were careful to turn in everything on time and stay on top of all the different aspects of the project, there was ample time to finish.”

Even with the shortened time period, students will be able to push through to complete the task at hand.

“This is going to get quite stressful for the sophomores, but it’s doable and it’ll end up being a great experience, said Seidel. “It’s a real-world application of what they’ve been learning, and will certainly be a memorable project.”

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