“Week Zero” by Cara Berner It’s the beginning of the new school year and of our IQP. The Worcester Project Center is located in the heart of downtown Worcester.  When our team arrived at 9:20AM yesterday, we ascended to the top floor to have orientation. The first thing we noticed was the breath taking view of the city! As soon as orientation was done, it was time to get together and discuss our objectives for the first week. We chose the meeting room in the back corner of the center and started jotting down tasks on the whiteboard that need to be accomplished for the day. It is separated into different blocks that we have for questions to ask our sponsors and to research, what tasks we need to accomplish for the day, a time schedule of what is going to be completed, and research topics. Our schedule for yesterday was to complete the revisions for the proposal, revisiting our goals and objectives, and to generate a work plan for the next three weeks. The amends to the proposal were completed yesterday as well as our work plan. We left the project center feeling tired yet satisfied about how much progress we had made. Today, we arrived early to get a head start on the tasks that need to be completed today. After a few hours of scrutinizing, critical thinking, and re-organization, our survey question edits were complete. A flow chart was created to help visualize the logic of our survey questions as well. An hour lunch break was a wonderful way to unwind after completing a demanding task. After our lunch break, we sat down to meet with one of our advisors to review our survey questions and to gain insight on his feedback. He provided us with more proposals for our survey questions and aided us with another approach to ask one of the questions listed. For the rest of the day, we plan to update our website page and to make more tweaks to the survey questions. We will send them to our advisors to get their approval and feedback. Next week will be our first week traveling into Boston and working with our sponsors. By then, we will have a stable schedule of traveling and working in Boston and working at the Worcester Project Center.

We're hard at work to accomplish today's objectives.

We’re hard at work to accomplish today’s objectives.


One view from our windows.

One view from our windows.


Another view of Worcester from our windows.

Another view of Worcester from our windows.


Our whiteboard.

Our whiteboard.

Week 1, Day 1 by Deanna Clark Today was our first day working at the MassDEP office. Upon arrival, we settled into our new work space and got a short tour of the office. After settling in a bit we headed down to the copy center/mail room and were issued our official MassDEP ID cards.           Later in the morning we had a meeting with Ms. Kathy Romero to discuss details of our project. Our main focus currently is on getting the surveys out to the state drinking water administrators as soon as possible, as this information will play a significant role in the direction our project takes. We made a list of all the information we hope to learn through the surveys:

  • Solutions for cyanobacteria treatment and prevention that failed and succeeded
  • Programs that states currently have in place in regards to cyanobacteria contamination in public drinking water
  • Details on outreach programs
  • Links between aspects of wells and their respective water bodies and frequency of cyanobacteria blooms
  • Factors at play that inhibit growth of cyanobacteria cells

Once we listed our learning goals, we developed a flow chart that explains the logic behind the questions we chose to ask. Our initial thoughts were to direct people without cyanobacteria experience to the end of the survey. However, after more in depth thought, we realized that it was just as important to look into cases where blooms do not occur to see if there are any natural factors at play or pollution monitoring programs in place that are unknowingly limiting cyanobacteria growth. One particularly interesting point that came up was the idea of biomimicry, or mimicking natural processes to solve problems occurring in the natural world. For instance, let’s say one state has not had any incidences with cyanobacteria blooms. We may find that a natural process is preventing bloom formation, and a recommendation we might make is to find a way to mimic that process until the body of water is capable of completing this process on its own. In addition, states may have pollution control programs in place for reasons unrelated to cyanobacteria. By directing inexperienced administrators to these separate questions, we can gain valuable information on treatment and prevention procedures. A picture of our flowchart  and a copy of our survey questions can be seen below: Survey FlowchartCyanobacteria Project – Survey Questions 9-2 We also discussed the well data in further detail with Kathy. The MassDEP has a list of 26 wells and 17 public water systems classified as “under the influence of surface water” that we will be looking at. These wells are already considered to be vulnerable to cyanobacteria contamination, so our main focus with the well data will be to see which surface water body influences which well. Lastly, we briefly discussed the case study we will be completing as a part of this project. The goal is to look at a case where drinking water was impacted by cyanobacteria contamination, but we might look at a case where recreational water was impacted instead. Regardless, we will get details regarding this portion of our project later in the term. Week 1, Day 4 by Sam Flibbert As we wrap up our first (almost) full week of working on IQP, it’s interesting how much progress we’ve made on our project in these few days. If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ll know that the our survey for state drinking water officials has been the focus of our work recently. After a number of sets of revisions, we brought our drafted survey questions to our very first joint advisor-sponsor meeting in Boston. We were quite confident in our work given how many times we rearranged and reworded the survey document. Our meeting took place in the 5th floor meeting room at the MassDEP Headquarters at 1:30pm. In attendance were the group members (Cara, Deanna, Kate and myself), our advisors (Professors Tuler and Vernon-Gerstenfeld), and our MassDEP liaison (Kathy Romero). As you would guess, the primary topic of conversation was our latest round of survey questions. We handed out copies to our advisors and liaison and walked them through each question and the logic used to complete survey. Our advisors were quite pleased at how far our survey had come from D-term, but still had plenty of constructive feedback. Their thought-provoking questions addressed topics ranging from the wording of the questions to the sequence in which they were presented. For instance, Professor VG noted that our second question asked the water officials of ASDWA, who are often the directors of each state’s drinking water program, how confident they were in their knowledge of topics relating to cyanobacteria. She asked us what motivation respondents would have to answer “not confident”, as that could prove very embarrassing for them. Professor Tuler told us to consider making the question open-ended, so we decided to modify the question to ask officials what topics in cyanobacteria they would like to know more about, which allows them to answer honestly and give us information on what our project should address. Professors Tuler and Vernon-Gerstenfeld also pointed us to a number of resources on survey design, like Don Dillman’s “Mail and Telephone Surveys: The Total Design Method” and SAGE Research Methods. Group members Cara, Deanna, and Kate spent the majority of the afternoon doing some internet research on survey design while I worked on wrapping up our task chart for our revised work plan for the term. One piece of advice our group ran into a number of times was avoiding “double-barreled questions”, which our survey had a few of. A “double barreled question” asks about multiple topics in a single question, preventing the respondent from distinguishing their thoughts on the two distinct topics. We remedied this in a number of our questions by splitting a single questions in parts a and b to address each part independently. Examples of this splitting can be seen in our latest draft of the survey questions, seen in the link below. CYANO-Survey Questions 9-5 Before we sent this set of questions to our sponsors and advisors, we recruited a member of the North Atlantic Right Whale Video Game, Kady Ferguson, to walk through our survey. We projected the document on the white board we have in our team’s room at the Worcester Community Project Center and had her pretend to take the survey, reading each question to see if she could understand what we were asking of her. She managed to catch a few typographical errors that all four of us happened to miss, but other than that, she told us that she understood and liked the flow of the survey, She told us there were some technical terms she wasn’t informed on, but we told her that state drinking water administrators would understand them as it is their job to do so.

Kady gives the Cyanogroup's survey her seal of approval!

Kady gives the Cyanogroup’s survey her seal of approval!

Developing this survey has certainly been a learning experience for our group. Not only did we really get into what makes a good survey, we also realized that talking to people, like our advisors and sponsors recommended, can help you get feedback that you wouldn’t have got otherwise. So huge shoutout to Kady for taking 10 minutes out of her day to helping us review our questions one last time before we passed them on!   Week 2, Day 6 by Kate Piotrowicz Over the past week, we have been putting a lot of effort into our work plan.  The work plan represents what we will be doing over the 7 weeks while we are at the MassDEP.  Before we started our work plan, we rewrote a lot of our methodology section in our proposal and were able to come up with some new ideas for our project.  One idea we came up with was regarding the informational materials we will be creating. One of the questions on our survey is asking which type of informational material they think would be the most effective way to distribute information.  We will take the top 4 types and each group member will create one of them. Once all the projects are complete, as a group we will evaluate them, along with our sponsors and fellow Boston IQP members to decide which type is the best choice.  Whichever one is chosen will be the one we will use for our project.  We think this is a really creative way to come up with an effective informational material. Yesterday, we had our first IQP presentation! We were presenting our work plan.  We worked on our presentation last week and met Sunday afternoon to perfect it.  Our presentation began at 10:30am. We reviewed a couple times before our presentation on Monday morning and then it was a go! As a part of our project, we are asking Public Water Officials to take our survey regarding cyanobacteria and their past and present experiences with it.  Today, we got the go ahead to finalize our questions and we are really excited to get the results back.  Within the next couple weeks, we will be going through the survey responses and looking at all the information we have received. Today for lunch, we went to Chipotle!  Since it is gorgeous outside, we decided to eat in Boston Commons, which is just a little bit away from the office! It was a nice lunch and we are eager to get back to work for the afternoon! photo (5)   Week 2, Day 2 by Cara Berner Sometimes life can throw you a curve ball and catch you off guard when you least expect it. You can either stay in your current stance and miss it or can change your stance to attempt to hit it. I’d select the second option. This week, our project threw us a curve ball that caught all of us off guard. We had sent our survey to our sponsor to make final remarks on the questions that we were going to ask the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA). When we received our feedback from our sponsor, most of our questions were unnecessary and were deleted. Our original survey was fourteen questions and now there are only three. We have decided that we are not going to interview survey respondents and instead, plan to interview the public water suppliers that the respondents have referred us to. Although a large portion of our survey questions were removed, there are a few that we are going to use for the interviews of the referred public water suppliers. Another issue that came up within this change of our survey is how we are going to select interviewees. All of us could not think of feasible ideas, so we asked  one of our advisors for assistance during our meeting on Thursday. She told us that the chance of receiving a large percentage of responses for the survey is unlikely and that we can interview all of the public water suppliers that are referred, even multiple contacts. This type of method for collecting research changed from an interview to an exploratory study.  After making our edits, we sent them to our advisors to look over and with their confirmation, sent them to our sponsor to be sent to ASDWA and will be distributed via online and email. Despite this fork in the road, we have successfully overcome the stress of our plan of action as a team. Sending the surveys is a task that is crossed off our to do list! On Friday we completed our first Formative Assessment of our team and team members. While we wait for responses, we need to figure out how we are going to interview the contacts. Areas of research that are going to be further investigated are interview design and what can be asked for additional questions.


Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!


Week 3, Day 2 by Deanna Clark 

Things are starting to pick up for our group this week. We sent out our surveys to ASDWA last Friday, and we have already gotten 13 responses. We were not expecting so many so quickly. However, the data is not as we originally anticipated. Every survey respondent so far has said they have not have a toxic cyanobacteria bloom that has affected drinking water quality. Many states haven’t had this issue because their state does not have many ground water under the influence of surface water wells.  If this trend continues, it is going to point our project in a different direction.

Since cyanobacteria contamination is a new issue in the United States, especially in the northern states, our project is definitely taking a more exploratory approach. We are trying to understand what states do and don’t know, so we can lay some groundwork for future research into this issue. It also gives us an advantage because we can start to find ways to combat the problem before it becomes a huge issue in the U.S. We know it is a growing concern, but it hasn’t had a tremendous impact so far, aside from the Toldeo incident. We are trying to contribute to stopping the problem before it becomes seriously detrimental.

Between organizing survey results, scheduling interviews with water suppliers, and editing our report, our team has our work cut out for us. We all find it interesting and exciting that our project is taking some unexpected twists and turns though. Unlike work we do for classes, IQP is teaching us that you can’t predict the future, and things will change on a daily basis. Although it is important to have a game plan, you need to be prepared for it to change. Based on the survey responses, we all have a feeling our project focus is going to change significantly. Regardless of the outcome, we are excited for the challenge this change presents us with and are eager to see where our project takes us next!

Week 3, Day 5 by Sam Flibbert

This past Thursday, we took a big step forward in accomplishing one of our project objectives. Our team is using MassGIS data to determine which surface water bodies are potentially linked to the states 26 GWUI public drinking wells. After meeting with Frank Niles, the GWUI Coordinator for the MassDEP, we scheduled a meeting with Alice Doyle, GIS analyst, to help us get acquainted with the use of MassGIS.

On Thursday, Alice brought us to the department’s computer training lab to introduce us to MassGIS software. Alice regularly uses a program called “ArcGIS” that can access and overlay all of the data contained within the Geographic Information System. However, due to the limited number of software licenses available to the MassDEP, Alice had us use a very similar software called “ArcReader.” This software is a limited version of ArcGIS that allows users to view and overlay pre-programmed sets of data.

In order to help us with our task of well source identification, Alice set up a project file within ArcReader. The file, a kind of interactive map, contained all the names and borders of MA town, the locations of all MA public wells, and the locations and names of all lakes, ponds, rivers in MA. Beforehand, our sponsor liaison, Kathy, provided us a list of every GWUI well in MA and each well’s public source ID number, used to identify each well in the state.

Alice introduced us to a number of functions of ArcReader to help us in our task. The “draw” function allowed us to create a circle with a given radius around each well. We chose a quarter mile radius as a sort of “buffer zone” because most surface waters capable of affecting groundwater wells are far closer to a well than that. The “measure” function acts as a ruler, giving distances between two chosen points. We used this function to determine the distance between each well and surface water body in question. The “identify” function gives the user more information about any given feature on the map, like a water body or a well. This function was used to extract the name of each water body within this radius.

The information we gained from the use of ArcReader was placed in a database of sorts. This database contains the public source ID of each well along with each water body within a quarter mile and the measured distance between the well and the water body. The MassDEP requested that our group retrieve this information in the original project description. We believe they wish to use it better keep track of which bodies of water could be influencing each well, but our team plans to, in the coming weeks, provide more comprehensive recommendations for the use of this deliverable.

Week 4, Day 2 by Cara Berner

Ah, the start of a fresh week. It’s a Monday morning; the sun shining and the sky is blue. A start to a particularly grueling week that is packed with days meant for editing. Despite the fact that it is going to be difficult, Monday was a chance to take a break from work related to IQP since we took a group trip to Boston to go on a river cruise! Our group took the 8:40AM train into Boston and unfortunately Sam was not able to come in.  When we arrived in Boston, we met with the Grids and Farms groups to get a bite to eat at Brugger’s Bagels. After getting some food in our stomachs, all of us walked back to the red line at South Station to wait for Seth, our advisor and two other groups. While we were waiting for Seth and the final group, a freestyle rapper by the name of Black Swan asked if he could freestyle for us. Most of the group thought it was pretty amazing that he could come up with ideas on the fly and rap them in an elegant way. Finally Seth appeared and we were off to UMass to board the ship.

Most of the others assembled at the bow of the boat to enjoy the wind, sun, and mist of seawater as the boat set sail. I stayed on the upper deck to enjoy the breeze and to avoid getting soaked. We toured the ports of northern Boston and got to see a cruise ship that was docked at one of the ports. On the way back, we were traveling against the wind and the current, which made the boat rock a bit. Deanna and Kate decided to go onto the bow and realized that we were traveling against the wind when a wave of water came up and doused them. I went inside to charge my phone and saw them get drenched in seawater multiple times. A few others went out too and returned soaking wet. Finally, we arrived at the dock and disembarked. Deanna and Kate didn’t have a change of clothing and had to carry around their soaked jackets.

Our group didn’t have anything due yesterday, so we took the time to relax and gallivant around Boston. The Grids group joined us for a bit too. The girls wanted to search for new clothing and traveled to Prudential Center to get a bite to eat first. We ate at P.F. Chang’s and then took the green line to Newbury Street. After stopping in several stores, we headed to Georgetown Cupcake to extinguish our cupcake craving. Finally, we had enough time to stop at the Apple store to check out the new iPhones. I checked the clock and told them that we needed to start heading to Yawkey to catch our 5:40PM train. Since it was early, they figured that we could get to Back Bay Station on time instead of going to Yawkey. We received directions and started sprinting to Back Bay. The best part is that Kate didn’t exactly know where we were going and we were blindly running to destination that we couldn’t locate. Eventually she spots the T sign and we made it just in time to catch the train. That’s what I call extreme “Train Running”.

Now that the fun is over, it’s time to get serious and return to working on our IQP. Today we plan to just work on editing our Methodology chapter. We started off with writing a to do list on our board. Some of these tasks include to finalize our interview questions, finish our methods chapter, complete our survey data input, and contacting MA water suppliers and survey respondents to schedule interviews. Our time schedule for the day includes finishing the interview questions, making more edits to our methods chapter, working on individual tasks, compiling the methods into a final document, and working on the background chapter. So far, we have been extremely productive and do not want to jinx our progress. This is where we stand as of now and after working on our methods, we can move onto editing our background and introduction chapters, and begin our interviews.

Week 5, Day 3 by Kate Piotrowicz

Over the past several  days, we have really been able to get a lot of work done!  A big accomplishment of ours is the completion of our Objective 1, which was to locate the surface water bodies that are located within .25 miles of the selected well.  We completed this for all the given wells and complied all the data to complete the objective! We are very excited to have accomplished it and cannot wait to get going with the completion of our next objectives.

Our first draft of our results were due yesterday.  We have been analyzing the results that we have received over the past week. To begin, we all went through the results we received from our survey results.  We learned a lot about what type of educational material public water officials believe public water suppliers would find most useful. The most popular responses we received were website and email. As of right now, our plan is to design a flyer that can be emailed and mailed out, as well as put online.  We also asked a question pertaining to what topics should belong in these informational materials. Treatment and prevention were topics they would like to see in their information materials. Treatment and prevention were the two topics that tied for first while cyanobacteria toxins were in second place.

Last week, we finalized our interview questions for Massachusetts Water Suppliers and we are all ready for interviews! We believe that we have developed a great set of questions that will help us further develop our project! This morning, we were able to start our interviews! We got in contact with several water suppliers and we hope to be able to talk with some more this week!

Week 5, Day 3 by Deanna Clark

Things are starting to get crazy as the end of our project approaches! Tomorrow marks exactly 1 week until our final presentation, and 2 weeks until the end of IQP. Despite the short time left, we still have a lot of work to do before the last day.

Last Thursday, we met with Kathy to discuss the direction our informational materials would take. We are realizing through completion of this project that a big problem with MA water suppliers is that they don’t effectively communicate with the surface water body owners. If a bloom were to form in one of the surface waters affecting their wells, the water supplier may not know about this until the water supply is already contaminated. Thus, a main focus on our informational materials will be to encourage communication between these two parties.

We also recently started our final presentation powerpoint. It is interesting to see how much the project developed since D term and even since the first weeks of A term as we refer back to our old presentations. Like most IQP’s, our project has taken unexpected turns and we have had to adapt our project to stay on track. We originally thought our project was going to be focused on informing water suppliers of treatment and prevention options, but we have learned that this technology is still being developed and is not ready for distribution. However, certain practices such as communicating between the water supplier and the water body owner, can help reduce the threat of consumers drinking cyanotoxin contaminated water significantly. In addition, limiting nitrogen and phosphorus runoff can also help inhibit growth of a bloom. Although technological advance are important when dealing with issues like cyanobacteria, one can still have a large impact by acting proactively.

This entire study is a proactive action by the MassDEP to start dealing with this problem before it becomes a substantial issue. Even though we have learned a lot about cyanobacteria and the problems it causes, there is still a lot left to learn. Many of our recommendations focus on continuing to raise awareness for this issue, as that is the first step to making progress in finding ways to solve the problem. We hope that research in this area continues after our IQP is completed.

Week 5, Day 5 by Cara Berner

Finally! Another conclusion to a rough week of IQP work! It’s the best feeling and the day of the week we always look forward to! Yesterday was a rough day into Boston since a majority of us were extremely tired (Me for example…) and that the weather was less than mediocre. At least all of us seemed to catch up with sleep on the train ride. When we arrived, it was chilly and drizzling outside. Fortunately, our walk to the office is between 5 to 10 minutes. At the office, we grouped together to discuss what we wanted to accomplish by the end of the day, what we wanted to discuss with our advisors at our meeting, and tasks that we wanted to start on tomorrow (which is today). With that, we split and worked on tasks independently. Some of these tasks were formatting on the practice final presentation, formatting the draft informational materials, editing, and conducting the final interviews. Kate and I decided to get lunch a little on the earlier side since we wanted to get Chipotle and to have enough time to discuss who is going to say what during the meeting. We seemed to be a little tense about how our writing and progress is going, but when we had our meeting, we were quite shocked and relieved. Our advisors told us that we were doing fine! Now we just need to keep the optimistic attitude!

Later in the day, we went on a tour in Roxbury called “The Toxic Tour”. The guide made us think a little critically about what environmental justice is and using an object about how we can fight for environmental justice with it.  The group that I was in (We weren’t with our IQP groups) picked the can of spray paint and connected it with how it can relay a message about environmental justice and but how the dangers of it are connected with a certain beauty. After that, we took an hour walking tour of different locations in Roxbury that had significance to environmental justice. The community that we were walking through was not a higher ended community and didn’t have a ton of money to spend to renovate it. The tour guide told us a story about how a boy wanted to have a park in the community and how it was a dump before becoming a small park. Everyday, he and some of his followers would visit this park to clean up the garbage so that they could have an area to play in. Unfortunately, from all of the pollution and waste, he suffered a lethal asthma attack at only 13 years of age. It was inspirational to see how this small community was trying to make a difference for the environment so that we could all coexist. We also visited a famous garage that was shut down due to diesel accumulation and a public garden where the community was trying to grow its own food. One of the last stops we stopped at was an area behind an apartment that was used as an asbestos disposal. Yuck, that’s rancid!

After “The Toxic Tour” some of the whole IQP group wanted to get some dinner at Boston. However, only two others wanted to get dinner while everyone else went back to Worcester. While wandering around, we stumbled upon Northeastern University. Elior, Deanna, and myself met up with some friends from Northeastern and ate dinner at the campus center. We all thought that the campus was beautiful! Plus it’s very nice to see another campus after seeing WPI for so long. After eating dinner, we went back to Back Bay to catch the 7:26PM. We arrived back into Worcester around 9PM and waited for Elior’s parents to give us a ride, but we took a bit of a detour. There was a event stand where people would wear a green screen cover over their body and only their head would show. Then a CGI body that dances was placed beneath our heads. I think the three of us had a little too much fun, but it’s a wonderful way to connect and to relieve stress!

Girls Night out!

Girls night out!

The garage

Now that it’s Friday, it’s back to work on our edits, presentation, formatting our informational materials, and completing our interviews. We plan to have a phone conversation with Mike Celona who will give us some more insight about the DPH and what they do when cyanobacteria blooms occur in recreational waters. This Friday is going to be a wonderful day!

Week 6, Day 2 by Sam Flibbert

This Monday, each group gave a preliminary final project presentation to the rest of the Boston Project Center participants. Our team had the blessing, or the curse depending on how you see it, of going first. We had spent all weekend preparing our presentation and practicing our delivery of the presentation. We knew we were ready to present, so we went to the front of the room and put it all out on the proverbial table.

Presenting to the other groups this early in the week was a great opportunity to gain feedback that we could implement before our final presentations on Thursday. (Side note: it’s incredibly hard to believe that we’re already this far into the term.) A number of the members of the audience, advisors included, pointed out how most of us are prone to speaking very quickly, and I mean VERY quickly. Kate, Deanna and I are all very fast talkers on a regular, so when you factor in the nerves that come with presenting, you can only imagine the result.

Despite how quickly we spoke, we still found our presentation approaching the 15 minute mark. We weren’t exactly quite sure what to exclude from our presentation, because to us, all of the information we presented seemed essential to the audience’s understanding of the project. Some recommended removing some of our background information, as certain details like specific cyanobacteria toxins were not absolutely essential to understanding the problem. Some suggested grouping our methods and findings together by objective, and omitting some of the details on the specifics of our methods, allowing for a more integrative approach. A few members of the audience felt “overwhelmed by text” during some of the slides and suggested cutting down the amount of material on the slide, as most of what’s there is already present in what we’re saying.

When one boils down all the feedback we received from fellow Boston students and our advisors, the core message is to “consider your audience”. Having a fact-filled presentation doesn’t mean much if you speak too fast, and the audience can’t process what you’re giving them fast enough. Inundating the audience with the exact details of how you carried out your methods isn’t what your audience, who in this case will be WPI community members, some sponsors, and some of our parents, is interested in. They’re going to be far more interested in what you accomplished, otherwise known as your results and your recommendations. The audience also wants to be able to read the text on your slides, so we needed to cut down the amount text each slide and make the text that remained on the slide more visible. The point of any presentation is to convey information to an audience, so as we made our changes, we had to keep in mind what we could do to make our presentation clearer for our audience.

Week 6, Day 5 by Cara Berner

This is it… The day of our final presentation… We’re up next. Breath…

(8 hours earlier)

It’s 9AM and we have a techsuite reserved in the library for two hours. I believe that we’ll be spot on by the time 1PM rolls by. We finished up a few calls to public water suppliers, asking them a crucial question about how they would like to receive informational materials if they were to get them. Most of the respondents did not answer or were busy, so we only received 3 responses; all stating that they would like to see them in an online format. With that task complete, it’s time to make the minor edits on our final presentation powerpoint and to rehearse it. After a few times, my team wanted me to add some extra information to discuss about on my slides. Happily, I made a new set of note cards so I wouldn’t get confused by adding additional information on old ones. Around 11AM, one of our members went to Staples to get a few draft copies of our fact sheet laminated to be passed around during our presentation. Plus, the rest of us had to return the key and pick up the new one to the other techsuite that was reserved from 11AM-1PM. After settling, we dispersed for a quick food break.  We practiced our presentation so many times that it got to the point where we were freezing up and forgetting our material. At that point, we needed to stop and take a deep breath, telling each other that we know the material so well that if we try to continue practicing, we are all going to stress out even more. The conclusion practice presentation included two spectators who were friends of other teammates. They sat down and listened to our presentation to give us tips about how we presented and what they thought of it. Overall, they enjoyed it and gave us a few handy tips. The most common on is to slow down! With this last practice round over, it was time to get some lunch and to change into our professional attire. The colors we chose were crimson, grey, and black. Unfortunately, I only have black and white but that was fine since they are neutral colors.

We all met back at 2PM in front of Ellsworth since the farm group had a car and drove us to Union Station. The train had arrived by the time we got there and hopped on. It was a long ride since the train’s schedule was to stop at every stop. By the time we arrived into Back Bay, we caught the Oak Grove bound orange line train with minutes to spare and the stop was Tufts Medical Center. When we disembarked, we were looking for the Courtyard Marriott but it was right in front our eyes.  We mingled with all of the groups in the lobby until it was time to go upstairs to the Washington Ball Room. There was plenty of time to mingle, eat hor d’oeuvres before the start of the presentations.

The beginning of the Boston IQP 2014 presentations is here! To start, some guest speakers introduced what the IQP is about and why it’s necessary for the college plan at WPI.  Next to speak was one of our advisors, Seth Tuler, and he briefly introduced the Boston teams and their projects. The first group to present is the Grid’s group. After, it was the Whales group. Our team is next.

(The Present)

It’s finally our time to present. Take a deep breath. Relax. We know the material so well. Seth gave us the microphone to use but halfway through our presentation, it cut out. I guess that plan didn’t work. After our presentation, we had a question and answer session and a few people asked questions about private wells. We told them some more information about our project and how it didn’t cover private wells, but they were “food for thought” questions. Holy moly, we’re done! We made it guys! We dispersed to our seats to watch the rest of the presentations. The Climate group went after us, and last but not least, the Farms group. After everyone’s presentations were over, we went back to mingling for a little while and then left to go back home. Despite the fact that our final presentations were over, we are saving the celebrating for another time since all of us have the report to finish up.

Week 7, Day 1 by Deanna Clark

We have reached the last week of our IQP. It is crazy to think that we are almost done with this project. We have accomplished so much since the beginning of the term and learned so much about our project. We have all thoroughly enjoyed this experience!

Now that we are in the homestretch, we are thinking more critically about how to integrate all the sections of our paper into one, cohesive report. We have been trying to develop links between all the sections. For example, we are trying to tie in information discussed in our background chapter to our results and recommendations section. We are getting to the point where we need to think critically about everything that is in our report. Questions we have been asking ourselves include “Does this information help the reader understand something in a different section of the report?” and “Is this relevant to our project goals and objectives?” We have gathered a massive amount of information and we need to decide what will help make our report stronger and what is extraneous.

We all really feel that we have gained a lot out of our IQP experience. As engineering and science students, we don’t think like this. I think we have all learned, however, that you need to understand this way of thinking to be able to design effective, technical solutions to problems. We have had many frustrating moments during this term, but it has made us all much more of critical thinkers. It is really great to see all of our hard work form itself into our final report, presentation and deliverables. We hope that our work will help get the ball rolling on preventing cyanobacteria contamination from becoming an out of control problem in MA and in other states.

We will most likely blog once more on our last day, so thanks to everyone who has been keeping up with our project progress! It’s been a challenging and exciting journey!

Final Presentation