Rockaway Park High School Students Conduct Climate Change Interviews!

On Thursday April 18th 2013, members of the Humans Impacts Institute (HII) met with students from Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability to participate as interviewees in a class documentary project. Students in two different RPHS art classes had set up their classroom as a TV studio and had prepared questions about topics such as climate change, pollution, energy use, and more. Through this project, the students learned about audio and video production skills as well as about various challenges we face in combating global warming.


The interviewing responsibilities were divided up between four students from the two participating classes. Other students were responsible for the behind the scenes work such as operating the camera, holding the boom mic, directing, etc. As a whole, both classes came up with a list of questions for the HII representatives. However, during each of the two sessions the interviewers were free to follow up on any specific topic that was discussed.

Representing the HII was Agathe Laure, HII’s Environmental Services Intern, Rodney Summo, Corporate Volunteer, and joining the class live via Skype, Tara DePorte, HII’s Founder and Executive Director.

Each session began with a brief introduction; the students asked each representative where they were from and what their environments are like where they live. Then the students wanted to know how each person got involved with environmental work, what got them interested in the topic, and the type of work they had done. From there the interviews delved into more technical areas, such as the specific causes of global warming, and about different types of renewable energy like solar and wind power.

The question/answer exchange brought up a few topics that seemed to be of special interest to the class. Having dealt with the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in their immediate area, the students were especially interested in learning about how they could change peoples’ behaviors so as to reduce the human impact on climate change. Everyone agreed that the simpler we can make these changes, the more likely people would be willing to carry them out. Another topic popular with the students was how global warming would affect the planets’ endangered species. One student in the class had previously done some work helping leatherback turtles and had seen how human behavior had drastically affected the turtle population. This brought up a discussion about how intertwined the ecosystem is with climate change and human behavior, and how this may be a way to help motivate people to make good choices. The more people know about the consequences of their actions, the more they are likely to do the right thing.

Said Rodney of the experience, “I had a great time! It was a lot of fun; I enjoyed watching the progression of the kids from shy/reading the questions directly off the page to engaged/creating follow up questions on topics that interested them personally. I look forward to watching the final edit!”. Agathe to add “I really enjoyed spending this time with them. Having studying environmental issues, I was actually impressed by their questions and some thoughts they had. We can get so much from kids and youth, and it seems like we forget this too often.”

The Human Impacts Institute is happy to have been a part of the documentary being put together by the students of the Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability. We wish the students all the best, and hope that we can continue to work together on future projects.

By Rodney Summo, Human Impacts Institute Corporate Volunteer

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