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Mid-point reflections

Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2009

So far, Tracey and I have only experienced minor push backs with this group, but none of them were unforeseen or greatly problematic. From the beginning of this project, I knew that one of the main problems for any high school group participating in this competition would be making sure that they do not become overwhelmed by the project. After looking at the toolkit and going over what the kids were going to be doing, I quickly realized that there was going to be a great deal of responsibility that they were going to have to take on in a very short time span. It would be understandable for a college student or anyone to become overwhelmed by the breadth of the Sustainability Decathlon, let alone high-schoolers. I remember when I was their age, I lived in a little bubble and would not have known where to start if I was given this project to complete, but these kids are awesome. They got right on top of everything and came up with great ideas of how to complete all the ten categories. Although they have great ideas, the one problem I noticed was that they were aiming incredibly high for themselves.

Not that this is a bad thing, but it is easy to take on more than you can handle when you get excited about a project like this, and recently, it seems as if they have begun to understand this. In the beginning, they were really excited and motivated to help in every way they could, but in the past week, they have begun realizing how much they are taking on with all the projects they came up with. This past week, they got pretty overwhelmed and needed a little help reigning themselves back in. So Tracey and I sat them down and explained that it is normal to feel overwhelmed because it really is a big project. But we also told them that everything they wanted to do was well within their reach to accomplish—it just needed to be broken down into smaller tasks that are easier to complete.

Once we laid out everything in front of them in a more manageable fashion, they began to get their motivation back and some of the feelings of being overwhelmed seemed to subside. Of course, they will continue to feel this a little bit throughout the competition, but a little of this is normal, and we told them that we would continue to help them through it step by step and that everything they wanted to achieve was, in fact, achievable. That has helped greatly so far.

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