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Professor Priscilla Snef
27 January, 2015

English 202C Rhetorical Analysis


To:

Professor Priscilla Sneff

From:

Ronald Ryder

Subject: Rhetorical Analysis of EPA Science Fair Project Booklet


Date:

January 27, 2015

The purpose of this memo is to evaluate the science fair project booklet released by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2000 as a technical document. The
booklet can be used by teachers, students and parents to help in administering projects,
developing ideas for projects and completing the scientific analysis of a project. Please review
this memo at your earliest convenience and evaluate its completeness, organization, support,
interpretation and style.

Audience: Who would this document be of use to?


The first important aspect of this booklet is that it is useful to several audiences. For
students this document is a guide in many of the processes of developing and completing a
science project that is environmentally focused. For teachers, this document is useful in helping
with assigning the project; the booklet allows the student to see nearly all he or she needs to do
in order to complete the project. Although the document is only addressed to teachers and
students (Page 2), a third audience is introduced as well: parents. It is common for students of
this age range to depend on their parents for academic guidance, especially when it comes to
large projects such as the ones the booklet describes. A parent could look at this document and
quickly understand the teachers expectations and ensure his or her child meets them.
An important feature of a technical document is not just locating an audience or
audiences, but tailoring the subject matter to the chosen audience(s). The booklet is molded well
for students in grades six to eight and their teachers/parents. The subject matter remains suitable
for young students by including a glossary (Page 10) defining several technical terms
(biodegradable, corrosive, etc...). Although the booklet contains technical subject matter, it suits
a young audience with use of simple language and direction. By providing simple headings and
fun phrases (i.e. Science is Fun, Page 1), the booklet makes a highly intensive project seem
simplistic. The document is thorough, although is a bit lengthy to keep the attention of a middle
school student. For parents helping with the project, the document is a great resource; it allows
for quick reference and clear direction for project expectations. Although a separate teachers
edition of the booklet with less decoration and more straight forward guidance on how to

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Professor Priscilla Snef
27 January, 2015

administer, approve or deny project ideas and grade projects may be more of use, the document
does a fair job in aiding the teacher. The booklet also provides resources the teacher can relay to
students by including a resources page (Page 11), which could be used to help the teacher learn
more to aid students in the project, or allow the students to dig deeper into the subject matter.

Goals: Does the document effectively reflect the EPAs goals and culture?
According to the EPAs website the agencys purpose is to ensure that all parts of societycommunities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate
information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks
(EPA.gov). The documents effectiveness in reflecting goals and culture will be based upon the
organizations mission statement.
The intended purpose of this booklet is not to inform students of how to conduct a science
project, but to give guidance in conducting science projects that are environmentally focused. The end
goal is that students develop projects that conserve resources, reduce waste and rid of produced waste
properly. The booklet is effective in communicating the agencys goals and culture. The first example of
this is on the first page, where an orange box both defines what the EPA is and what its organizational
goals are. Example projects towards the end of the document reflect the goals mentioned above, as does
the stamp at the bottom of the final page of the document stating that the paper used to print the booklet
contains at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber, meaning it is at least partially made from recycled paper.
The aspect of technical writing the document does best is reflecting organizational goals and culture.
The booklets purpose extends beyond the scope of the project it informs about, it reinforces the
point that environmentalism is important in todays world. By sending an important message beyond the
subject matter to audiences all over the world, the booklet becomes more effective as a technical
document.

Design: Does the design increase readability?


The document is eye catching; the colors, intricate headings and plentiful images draw
readers to the document. However, the design of an effective technical document not only draws
readers attention, but helps the reader navigate through the document and understand the subject
matter better. The booklet relies too heavily on clip art, when tables and a consolidated checklist
could be added that more effectively assist students. A few graphs showing the impact simple
environmental changes have on the world would also provide motivation for students to work on
the project. For example, a large picture of a chemical bottle does not help the reader understand
the document. Design strengths include addressing the audiences specifically in the beginning of
the document, the table of contents and the glossary/resources pages. These design features do
increase readability and increase understanding for readers. Although this document doesnt
necessarily need to be as professional as some others because the target audience is young
students, including relevant statistics and graphs would enhance the document.

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Professor Priscilla Snef
27 January, 2015

Overall Effectiveness: Does the document do all it needed to/intended to?


The booklet mentions many necessary elements of the project process, but more
information will be needed from the teacher in order to complete the project. The booklet
provides ideas for students, but gives little information on specific requirements of the
presentation such as poster board usage or due dates. The document produces the fundamentals
but more explanation by the teacher will be needed; effective insight into the scientific method
and other steps in the development of a science project is provided, but will be only
supplementary material in the projects completion. The audience is clear from the beginning and
the booklet is tailored appropriately to them. The EPA reflected its goals for the project onto
students while also giving insight into the bigger picture of the environment as a whole. The
design was effective in drawing readers attention and organizing material appropriately. The
booklet is an effective technical document and meets the criteria in order to be considered so.