Four Rivers Charter Public School seniors produce documentary about Cape Wind project

Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2015

GREENFIELD — Throughout the school year, seniors at Four Rivers Charter Public School have been researching the Cape Wind offshore wind project, talking to stakeholders and traveling to Cape Cod to study energy and its politics and economic issues.

On Thursday, at the Garden Cinema in Greenfield at 7 p.m., the Four Rivers seniors are screening a documentary they created as a culmination of their study of energy.

The 36 seniors began the project in the fall as part of their interdisciplinary expedition, a group learning project required for seniors at Four Rivers.

The students focused on energy, a reflection of the school’s mission statement to have students think about issues of sustainability.

The first proposed offshore wind project in the United States, the proposed wind farm, Cape Wind, off the coast of Cape Cod has been mired in political conflict, legal protests and permitting problems.

The wind farm was proposed in 2001.

The students’ classes all tied into the project, bringing real life lessons into the classroom. In science, they focused on the physics of energy. In English, they studied the narrative structure of documentary film. In social studies, they explored the politics and research, and in math they learned how to interpret and present data related to energy.

Students worked with local filmmaker, Steve Alves, to learn about the art of storytelling in film, they worked with the staff at GCTV to learn the technical side of shooting and editing a film, and then they traveled to the Cape to interview stakeholders in the Cape Wind project. They also interviewed wind power engineers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The students broke into several groups from script writers to researchers to video editors.

The project wasn’t always easy, students said.

At the last second, the students had to do major edits of their documentary with new developments coming out of the turbine project in January.

In January, National Grid and Northeast Utilities, who had agreed to buy energy from the wind farm, terminated their contracts with the developers of the Nantucket Sound wind turbine project, stating that Cape Wind had missed the Dec. 31 deadline specified in their contracts to begin construction and get financing.

The decision puts into question the future of the project.

With 36 people working on it, the student project required collaboration and diplomacy on the part of the students.

“It was a lot of team work. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t supposed to be,” Finn McMillan said.

“It was difficult working with so many people. There was a lot of bureaurcracy,” Lliam Carlton joked.


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