This week, our team explored the Menlo Park Green Challenge website in further detail and held a conference call with Diane Bailey in order to provide updates on our project progress. During our call, we offered suggestions to improve the accessibility of the site, discussed potential strategies for surveying students and their preference of prizes for completed actions, and set a date next week to meet on-site.
We also met outside of class to begin our scope of work and get to know each other better!
What We Observed and Learned
In order to organize all of our suggestions for the Green Challenge site, we held a meeting before the call and grouped both our older and recent observations into specific topics. When addressing Diane, we went over each of our suggestions in detail, all geared towards making the site less complicated for the average household.
We first shared our suggestions from last week: to make the site user friendly by adding time commitment and cost filters on the actions as well as using survey results to determine the most applicable actions to get started on the Challenge. We also think a beneficial addition to the survey would be a checklist of all the actions, giving users the option to check off completed actions before being taken to the main page with all of the actions. This way they don’t have to search for each completed action individually, and can get to new actions more quickly.
Next, we explained our most recent concerns surrounding the content of the actions and the point system. Regarding the general actions, ranging from recycling to installing an electric pump heater, the descriptions on their respective pages are extremely long, and sometimes lack specificity and/or citations for important statistics For example, the article discussing solar panel installation uses statistics matching the size of a solar system in comparison to the size of a home, but loses credibility by not citing the source. Furthermore, how the points were assigned to each action was confusing and somewhat arbitrary. To provide context, an “easy” action like line-drying clothes has a very similar point value to the “challenging” action of insulating one’s floors and walls.
Each of our suggestions centered around making the Green Challenge more feasible, easier to understand and more relatable to participants.
In order to incentivize students to participate in the Green Challenge, we need to find out what types of prizes they would be most interested in. We are going to email the principals at La Entrada and Menlo Atherton to see if we can send a survey home in students’ take-home folders.
During our meeting this week, we got to know each other better, we outlined our project scope of work, assigned team roles, and organized our time table for completing the deliverables due in the following weeks to the class and our community partner.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Diane appreciated our suggestions for improving the Green Challenge website and urged us to compile these notes into a document so she could share our findings with the Menlo Spark team. This action will be a part of our scope of work so that we can make a timeline that fits in with each of our goals well. Next week we hope to provide more website suggestions, and include them in our write up, decide the most mindful and ethical way to survey teachers and students, send out our survey to school students and/or teachers, and get more connected with the community we want to serve. In addition, we hope to find a family and/or students to interview within the next few weeks so we can publish a more realistic success story on the Green Challenge website. In order to do so we will write up some information about the story so that it can be advertised to families via Menlo Spark’s newsletter.