PRO/CON: Are the annual APES project accomplishing enough?
March 25, 2015
Are the annual APES campaigns accomplishing enough? Vote down below!
In life, the process of something is often more important than the results. This is based on the idea that, unlike results, a process is repeatable, measureable, and most importantly, improvable. For high school students in the midst of acquiring knowledge needed to obtain success into the real world, the annual AP Environmental Science projects are the perfect assignments for teaching students the process of running a campaign, influencing the public, and making change all while relating to the environmental conservation subject at hand.
Critics of the project focus mainly on the seemingly low fruition rate of the APES projects that occur every year. They tend to view incomplete projects as a letdown to the school’s population and incorrectly assume that the main purpose of the assignment is to create an immediate impact beneficial towards our environment. The people with this perspective don’t understand what the APES project is about nor do they realize how environmental conservation truly works.
First let us start with what it means to make an environmental impact. When dealing with conservation, the main objective is to spread awareness and educate people about a certain problem in order to achieve positive results. Small-scale projects carried out in small areas don’t necessarily help a conservation effort as effectively as promoting the cause of a project to the general population. The goal of an environmental project is to create a domino effect for more and more individuals to realize that the environment matters, not so that project undertakers can save a miniscule amount of natural resources that is practically negligible compared to the amount we lose everyday.
In addition, those who believe that a failed project results in a failed learning experience don’t realize the extent of work done by the students for the assignment. The APES project itself isn’t so simple as just a proposal followed by a halfhearted attempt to complete the environmental undertaking. For every major project like SolarShade, students complete page after page of research ranging from in-depth descriptions of critical environmental problems to project benefits and the positive impact a conservation project can have on the future. Consequently, students are learning about environmental science in a way that is much more practical than listening to lectures on and on throughout the day.
In the end, a project as complex as building solar panels in the school parking lot might not carry through to completion. However, the students will have learned a vast amount of information on the eco-friendliness of solar panels. This combined with the experienced they gained campaigning to promote a cause guarantees that they can try again as adults. While some APES projects ultimately might not succeed, the process will definitely stay permanent throughout a student’s life and guarantee the possibility of environmental conservation spreading past the boundaries of our school grounds and into our future.
The cycle begins with fervent campaigning in February that gradually begins to fade as the weeks crawl by. By the time May rolls around, the recurring disappearances of many of the once widely publicized AP Environmental Science projects leaves a sense of disappointment that’s all too familiar.
Before I begin my griping, I must recognize that organizing projects takes a tremendous amount of effort, and I am certainly not accusing students of laziness. There is not much students themselves can do except come up with the concept of their respective projects, and a low rate of fruition over the years is hardly students’ fault when they are given a meager and often insufficient four months to meet their goals.
As it is, APES is not accomplishing much more than merely hosting a science fair that solely serves to showcase the various theories students come up with about improving the environment. I realize that implementation of APES’ project proposals is not necessarily the absolute focus of their campaigns and is rather one of many factors in the overall effort, but that is no reason to leave a project unfinished. These projects have been publicized under the claim that they will eventually be brought to full, palpable fruition, and by bringing the entire student body into the campaign, these projects are no longer simply about earning a grade, but are about meeting the expectations of its supporters and fulfilling APES’ self-imposed obligations. The notion that students are arguably raising awareness of environmental issues on campus, one of the course’s major tenets, has an indirect effect on the Diamond Bar environment at most and is simply not enough.
It is certainly understandable that there may be some unfortunate cases in which perfectly viable projects are halted in the process for reasons outside of students’ control—perhaps the result of a rejection from the district board. The fact that the majority of unfinished projects have never been presented to the district board strongly suggests that time is, in many cases, lacking. However, there is a solution; if more time is what students need, it is more time that they should be getting, whether it’s a few extra months or the entire school year.
It doesn’t take an ecofreak to know that the environment is not something to be treated as a mere contest between classes—if any group on campus is to be aware of this, it should be the APES community. Although, granted, some current projects seem somewhat more viable than those of previous years, the fact that these eco-friendly campaigns have been going on for years with a notoriously low success rate remains unchanged. If APES teachers are okay with the idea of having the vast majority of their projects go without closure, I regret to inform this community that it is wasting the time of students, teachers, and administrators time. However, with more workable conditions for students, there is little doubt that APES will substantially be creating more change.