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My First Research Carnival: A Quest for 99 Tweets on Water Conservation for Events

March 20, 2012

Research Carnival

This term, I have been teaching a Sustainable Event Management Course at BCIT. We’ve been covering a range of topics, including all of the new sustainability standards.

In celebration of World Water Day on March 22nd, and of Canada Water Week March 19-25, I tried a new class format on Monday night. It was a “research carnival”.  Although there was a definite lack of funnel cakes and ferris wheels at this carnival, fun could still be found. I’m always a bit nervous trying a completely different format for a class, but decided to give it a try, with a backup presentation ready to go if things went sideways. Inspired by gamification concepts, we set out an epic goal: to identify 99 tips for water conservation for meetings and events – 11 for each of the 9 APEX /ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards.

The Quest

The class was divided into small groups and each assigned to one of the standards. We are really lucky to be in computer lab for our class, so everyone was able to go online to do their research. Teams were asked to identify 11 tweetable tips on water conservation, each linked to an article that they had found. Some of the standards were easier than others: finding tips for the accommodation and food & beverage standards came pretty quickly, and teams were then reassigned to help some of the more challenging topics – like A/V!

The Results

As with many epic quests, we didn’t quite finish in our first attempt, but not to fear – the quest continues. Over the course of the next week, the class is continuing to look for more tips and will be sending them into me to “curate” them into our very own magnum opus. Stay tuned – we might just make them public!

The Resources

Along the way, we found dozens of great sites with relevant information. A couple of the water research gems we used were:

  • Water Footprint Network: This site has amazing facts and research. The product gallery resulted in some great statistics for us like this one: switching from 425 cups of coffee to the equivalent in tea for a conference break would save 100,000 litres of water!
  • ONEDROP: This site was great for helping to understand the difference between the water in food, and the water it takes to produce food. I like their online calculator for the water on your plate. It shows, for example, that it takes 2034 litres to produce 1 serving of beef, as compared to 412 for tofu or soybeans and 308 for chicken.

The Takeaways

Although the list may not have been completed, I would say that the class was a success.This was perhaps most evident when it was time for our first break of the evening and most of the class stayed in the room and kept working on the assignment. When I asked at the end what the students thought of the concept – there was definite support for doing it again. We also had an opportunity to cover a few twitter basics: using hashtags, shortening URLs and the proper length for tweets (I recommended staying under 110-120 to make retweets easier). Overall, I’m really happy with the results and am keen to learn how others are incorporating world water week, research carnivals or social media into the classroom.
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