Notes from my high school presentations : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I gave 2 presentations on Y2k this morning to high school sophomores. Thought you might be interested in some observations.

Before I began, I passed around this photomosaic, and asked the classes to think about any Y2k connection.

I then took a survey. The question was: Based on what you now know about Y2k, do you think it is:

1. A hoax. Hype about nothing. (0 responses)

2. A minor problem. Couple days of disruptions. Minimal personal impact. (27 responses)

3. A moderate problem. Week or two of disruptions. Some personal impact. (4 responses)

4. A serious problem. Month or two of disruptions. Definite personal impact. (8 responses)

5. TEOTWAWKI. Year or more of disruptions. Lifestyle changes. Chaos. (1 response)

I then gave them 30 minutes of balanced (I think), accurate info about power, phones, banking, government, health care, transportation, PC's, the global situation, "expert" opinions, what we know vs. what we don't know, and some basic preparation advice. I handed out the Red Cross preparation page, as well as a sheet of quotes and a resource list.

There were lots of good questions, mostly about PC's, VCR's, and travel. The students were very attentive and, for the most part, well-informed (although some comments were inaccurate, i.e., elevators).

I handed out an evaluation as well. More on that in a bit. When time was running out, I took the survey again. Here are the results, using the same numbers as above. Some students apparently didn't vote both times.

1. 0 responses

2. 9 responses

3. 14 responses

4. 13 responses

5. 2 responses

I met with the teacher afterward. We spoke for about 30 minutes. She will invite me back again to speak in the Fall semester. She felt that the students responded as she hoped and expected, and that she learned a lot as well.

I enjoyed the experience, also, and look forward to doing it again. Several students took my business card, and I encouraged all of them to do further research, talk to their families about preparations, and to contact me if they had further questions.

Here is some of the feedback, based on the evaluation form. Not all students completed the form. I'll summarize the results, and give some answers in their entirety.

Q1: Did you find the presentation informative?

Responses: 23 yes, 1 "somewhat". Samples: "Many facts that I didn't know." "It cleared up many of the myths and helped me understand the Y2k problem better." "Most of these things were new to me." "Our questions were answered and the myths about Y2k and its effects were expelled." "I was familiar with the problem before, but he brought up many more issues that I was unaware of. The problem is more serious than I thought." "I didn't know a lot of the specifics before." "Informative and (underlined) interesting." The "somewhat" response added "I knew most of the information--some different angles on ideas."

Q2. Did you feel the information was relevant to you?

Responses: All 24 yes. Samples: "Depends on location." "Especially when discussing Y2k ramifications in the U.S." "I think it is relevant to almost everyone because it could affect us all." "This is something that will have an impact on everyone! It is important to be aware and get prepared." "Everyone's life is both directly and indirectly affected by computers." "Y2k is going to effect our daily life, the economy, specifically. I think families/people need to just make essential adjustments such as extra food, wood, water, and housegoods for a month's supply." "He gave information relevant to every person." "If these problems occur they will affect all of us."

Q3: Are there other specific Y2k-related topics you would like more information on?

Responses: 15 said "No" or left blank. Others: "Safety and elderly." "What we could do to make sure these problems won't happen." "Verex 2000. I read about it in research for debate." "How the problem would affect home computers." "Cars-will they still work? And the Polar Bear event-will they still have it?" [Note: This is an annual Milwaukee New Year's Day ritual of swimming in Lake Michigan--I did it when I was younger as well.] "I'm very concerned about the banking systems. People might all rush out and take their money out of the banks and lead to a massive breakdown." "I would have liked to know more about what our own families can do." "How they're going to prevent chaos." "Y2k problem in developing nations."

Q4: Do you have any suggestions on ways to improve this presentation?

Responses: 19 "No" or "not really" or words to that effect. Others: "Visuals, statistics on overheads, video clips, speak locally how we are doing." 2 others suggested visuals, 1 wanted "more info on PC problems", 1 said "maybe you could talk more about household problems."

Q5: Any additional comments?

Responses: 13 No, blank, or simply "thank you". Others: "Good presentation." "Speaker was answering questions very clearly and informed us very well of the problem that is facing us and the actions we should take." "I think presentations like this are very important because many people have the wrong idea on Y2k or just don't know enough about it." "I really liked the way that you took comments as they came up, as opposed to making us wait to the end." "Thanks for giving additional resources." "I liked the presentation and found it interesting that a person that has done a good deal of research thinks this will be a significant problem." "Sounded like you knew what you were talking about. You gave good info w/detail." "Presented in an interesting way. Good speaker." "Be less biased -> told us your opinion at first, but then you also inflicted your opinion upon us -> caused a sense of fear which was sort of annoying -> stop giving opinions to us." [Must have slipped--I did try not to let my "bias" show. I'll try harder next time.] "I thought it was especially interesting when you discussed the myths about Y2k and what could happen in the US." "An excellent presentation that included stuff that I was aware of and stuff that I was not aware of. Being informed is the best way to prevent panic on 12/31/99."

Both classes nailed the photomosaic's relevance to Y2k on the head (big picture is important, but "the devil is in the details").

I enjoyed the experience, and look forward to doing it again. I have worked with youth most of my career (prior to converting to geekdom). They are informed, they do "get it" pretty quickly, and they are most certainly a large part of the solution.

I welcome any of your comments or questions.

-- Steve Hartsman (, April 23, 1999


You stupid butthead, if had given them accurate info there would have been a unanimous TEOTWAKI vote.

If you live within five miles of Paul Milne you're an idiot.

-- Pole Milne (, April 23, 1999.

Steve - can you get hold of me about your notes? My pastor asked me to set up a presentation down at the church middle of May, and naturally, I'd rather bum off of you than make up my own handouts....8<)

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, April 23, 1999.


I didn't use extensive notes, just an outline. I'll be happy to e-mail them to you if you're still interested.


You are correct, of course. Now, go back to laying in your barbed wire ~[|8>}->

-- Steve Hartsman (, April 23, 1999.


well done! you know between the highschool students, and the scouts, some parts of this country may yet be able to deal with the issue successfully.


-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 23, 1999.

I know it's a touchy issue,but did you recommend that they buy guns?ha!you know come y2k they might be useful OUTSIDE of school as well!!

"Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Ben Franklin)

-- zoobie (, April 24, 1999.

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