Guided Environmental Research Projects: What Happens Next?

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Madison Redmond '20

Brett Donshik, Staff Writer

As learning shifts online, some of Loomis Chaffee’s more hands-on classes must find new ways to effectively deliver a quality experience. Members of the Guided Environmental Research Project (GERP) class are still moving on with their projects despite the many challenges of remote learning.
The spring semester of the GERP is the “Call to Action” portion of the project in which students educate other LC students about their projects and encourage them to learn more about the issue they tackled and act upon their findings. This step is typically completed with on-campus presentations, but with the move to an online community, students in the GERP are finding alternative ways to complete their project and educate the student body.
On campus, Madison Redmond ’20 was creating a hydroponic system in Clark Science Center and testing the difference in the rate of growth between soil and hydroponic crops. During the spring term for her “Call to Action,” Madison is continuing her project by creating a mini-series for In The Loop highlighting her at-home DIY hydroponic system using household objects. Madison is optimistic about this change and how it will bring her project to a wider audience.
“I feel like this will get more attention because it’s a video and people can go back and look at it,” said Madison. “If I tried to go up and give a presentation in front of people, it’s not like they can write down and understand everything that I’m saying. It’s cool now that I have a video that people can pause and do it themselves, make their own,” Madison said.
Madison also thinks that this change could have a positive impact in future years of the GERP. She believes that a shift to online could increase the scope of the projects’ impact by encouraging families and students who could not attend the GERP presentations to take action through online video platforms.
While some students are finding that they have to adapt and possibly even rethink their projects to fit the new online platform, other students such as Griffen Malkin ’20 find that the change in the learning environment will have little impact on their experience. His project, which aims to help Loomis Chaffee address its carbon footprint, does not require as much use of the campus and therefore is less affected by the switch to remote learning.
“I’m in a unique situation. Some kids have to completely rethink what they have to do because they cannot be on campus, but mine is a little different because I can still coordinate with all the people I need to,” Griffen said.
Despite the lack of in-person interactions, Griffen will be able to use the data he collected in the winter term to present ideas for Loomis to lower its carbon footprint in the future. Griffen also commented on the support he and his peers that may have more difficult transitions onto the online platform are receiving from the GERP faculty.
“No matter if it’s easier or harder in this new circumstance, [Science Faculty] Mr. Dyerson, [Director of Sustainable Agriculture] Ms. Lee, and the other faculty are completely committed to helping us further our projects in whatever way we can because they know how hard we’ve worked,” Griffen said.