MARINE BIOLOGY RESEARCH 2017-18 SPRING SEMESTER IN REVIEW

MBRP class of 2018! Guess who’s been photo-shopped? (Photo editing and credit: Mauricio González)

What a whirlwind of a Spring semester! First off: Marine Biology Research Program class of 2018, you will be missed dearly. I know I say this about most graduating classes but I can’t get used to the loss. You’re all moving on to your next goals stronger, smarter, and as self-reliant young adults. The future is your oyster. I am confident in seeing you off. Change the world!

Getting dirty! We have a saying in the MBRP: You’re not a real New Yorker until you’ve been soiled with NY Harbor benthic mud! (Photo credit: Mauricio González)

The 2018 Spring semester has been marked with numerous accomplishments. On 19 May, 6 MBRP research scholars embarked on an expedition up the Harlem/East River to retrieve a 2 year-old ecological experiment. Led by our senior project manager Nicholas Ring, this expedition put a close to Phase Two of the CIVITAS-New York Harbor School project to determine the baseline conditions of the Harlem/East River and to test different construction materials for their effect on marine biodiversity. Water was spraying  us from all directions as we pulled up nine 40+ pound experimental units onto the Indy 7 from the river. The rain above and the muddy waters from below  tried slowing us down but we pulled together as a team of marine scientists and maritime crew to finish ahead of schedule. A million thanks to the Indy 7 Captain Kirsten Johnsrud, First Mate Halcyon Spooner, and their young crew for your invaluable help and leadership. Equal thanks to our Harbor Class instructor Sean Lynch for stepping up to lead the crew. For PHASE TWO results click here.

7th Annual Marine Science Symposium at the New York Harbor School, May 16, 2018. (Art by Gryffen Snyder-Shane)

On May 16 the New York Harbor School hosted its 7th Annual Marine Science Symposium. We had over 50 projects on display and over 60 volunteers from various industry & post-secondary institutions, not to mention our guests from the Netherlands led by Marc Van Breukelen to help judge. The theme this year was Godzilla- fictional character and product of the unbridled marine contamination that ensued after World War II. Godzilla came to represent nature rising to warn humanity of the perils of altering the Earth’s delicate balance. During the symposium we also introduced a new award called the MBRP Trident Award of Excellence. This award is given to a MBRP scholar that has accomplished all three of the following feats: 01) has earned all the possible college credits offered by the MBRP, 02) has competed in the NYC Science and Engineering Fair or obtained GIS SPACE certification, and 03) has assumed a leadership position in the Harbor SEALs Citizen Science after school team. Two MBRP alumni have accomplished these ambitious feats and were bestowed with this honor: Cezanne Bies (class ’16) and Melanie Smith (class ’17). Thanks to our former CIVITAS Project Manager Maura Smotrich for delivering a beautiful keynote address. To view the Symposium Booklet with the complete list of volunteers, senior autobiographies, project titles, and Symposium results click here.

Marine Science Symposium volunteers from the Netherland’s Windesheim School, led by Marc Van Breukelen. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)
Final presentation of the CIVITAS/NY Harbor School project on May 16 at the Hudson River Foundation. The presentation was led by our senior project managers Nicholas Ring & Nailea Rodriguez as well as our senior data analyst Matthew Chiu and benthic captain Marcus Charles. Present at the meeting were Jim Lodge from the Hudson River Foundation, Maura Smotrich from City of White Plains, Daniella Davi from CIVITAS, Alexander Adams from CIVITAS, James MacDonald from the Department of Environmental Conservation, Jim Tripp from Environmental Defense Fund & CIVITAS, and Matthew Haiken from Billion Oyster Project. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)

Back in the lab, our young marine scholars have been hard at work. Our junior scholar Aaniyla Allen-Sutherland has been monitoring the health of our Harbor waters by testing for Entrococcus faecalis. Our junior research scholar Lauren Salitan has been testing the effects of chlorine concentrations on the survivor-ship of oyster larvae. And our freshmen and sophomore scholars have attempted to bar-code marine invertebrates for the first time at our lab on Governors Island.

Junior scholar Aaniyla Allen-Sutherland displaying IDEXX Enterolert trays that she uses to monitor the Harbor. (Photo credit: Elizabeth Burmester)
Junior research scholar Lauren Salitan and mentor, Elizabeth Burmester, PhD, work on an experiment testing the effects of chlorine on oyster larvae. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)
Gel electrophoresis run by our freshmen and sophomore research scholars Lisette Mejia, Destiny Coley, Brian Mejia, Gabriel Castro, and Jasmine Mendoza. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)
Urban Bar-code Symposium sponsored by Cold Spring Harbor Labs. Our young scholars presented at the symposium on May 24, 2018. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)

Some of the best moments of the school year are when alumni visit. They’ve come for our SEALs-giving dinner, Marine Symposium, and just randomly throughout the year. Below are photographs of just some of the many alumni who’ve stopped in this year.

Gracie Carter, (Photo credit: Nicholas Ring)
Averille Ramos. We retired his # 17 SEALs jersey. (Photo credit: Jacqueline Obermayer)
Nicolle Martinez. (Photo credit: Anita Morawski)
Pablo Jimenez and Zain Bin Khalid. (Photo credit: Anita Morawski)
Marcus Charles & Cézanne Bies. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)
Violeta Gonzalez and Ahyrton Vasquez. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)
Pierre Landet and Orlando Ramos. (Photo credit: Anita Morawski)
Jared Rosin, Mondragon, Katha Conklin, Kaila Scott, Mariah Gathers, and Melanie Smith. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)

To have a little fun, our Harbor SEALs scholars participated in the CIVITAS annual benefit. They presented their monitoring results of the Harlem/East River to residents and politicians from all over NYC at the House of the Redeemer by Central Park.

Harbor SEALs Citizen Science team at the CIVITAS annual benefit. (Photo credit: Mauricio González)

And after many years of sacrifice, hard work, and grit, Mauricio Gonzalez wins the Big Apple Award for 2018! Next school year as a Big Apple Fellow, he’ll be convening with school officials to share and learn best practices.

Mauricio González, 2018 NYC Big Apple Award recipient, presented by the DOE Deputy Chancellor, Phil Weinberg. (Photo credit: NYC DOE)

MARINE BIOLOGY RESEARCH 2017-18 WINTER REVIEW IN PICTURES

WE WIN AT NYCSEF! Harbor school seniors Nicholas Ring & Nailea Rodriguez win Second Prize while Matthew Chiu wins Third Prize in addition to three special elite awards. Special thanks goes out to Maura Smotrich, Rachael Miller, and Captain Michael Abegg for believing in us. These accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of CIVITAS Citizens, the Rozalia Project, BOP, and our wonderful team of Harbor SEALs Citizen Scientists! (Photo by M. Gonzalez)

The 2017-2018 winter season has been busy as usual for the Marine Biology Research Program and Harbor SEALs Citizen Science Monitoring scholars. Below we put together a sample of some of the activities we’ve been a part of during the 2017-2018 winter season. Thanks again to our industry and post-secondary partners for your continued support. Please mark your calendars: on May 16 the New York Harbor School will be hosting our 7th Marine Science Symposium. More information will be forthcoming. We hope to see you there. Enjoy the images!!!

Nailea Rodriguez, senior MBRP scholar, presenting at the NY Blue Tech consortium during World Water Day, March 22, 2018. (Photo by Nynke de Vette, Netherlands Consulate)
Here our Harbor SEALs younglings Destiny Coley, Lisette Mejia, Brian Mejia, Gabriel Castro, Jasmine Mendoza, and Tiffany Vu get ready to genetically barcode marine invertebrates as part of a collaborative project involving partners CIVITAS Citizens, BOP, Cold Spring Harbor’s Urban Barcode Program, and New York Harbor School’s Harbor SEALs Citizen Science monitoring team. Thanks to our other partners at ConEdison and a “RESO-A” grant through which we were able to obtain many of the materials for this important project. (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
This year our scholars will complete phase two of the CIVITAS-NYHS East River Esplanade baseline study. (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
Next, with over half a million students in NYC public and private high schools, five-hundred fifty that are selected to compete at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair, to just over one hundred that make it to the finals, the Marine Biology Research Program had three scholars selected for for this honor in the category of Environmental Science. In total we had a School record breaking high of six students who competed this year at the Preliminary Round. Left to right: Marcus Charles, Nicholas Ring, Matthew Chiu, and Nailea Rodriguez (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
Senior MBRP scholars Isabella Torres and Seth Rivera present their project on shark diet at the Preliminary Round of the NYC Science and Engineering Fair on March 4, 2018. Considering that the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is an un-screened school and that we’re going up against the most selective public and private schools in the city (i.e. Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, Townsend Harris, etc.) this accomplishment is impressive, to say the least. (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
Chris Bell and Nicholas Ring, Senior MBRP scholars, present their projects at the Preliminary Round of NYCSEF, March 04, 2018. (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
Our Harbor SEALs scholars train in invertebrate zoology as part of the Advanced Marine Biology course offered at the New York Harbor school. Taught by Instructor Mauricio Gonzalez, M.Sc. in collaboration with SUNY Stony Brook, students earn 3 college credits upon successful completion. (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
Senior marine research scholars Chris Bell, Matthew Chiu, and Isabella Torres dissect a squid to better understand the anatomy and evolutionary relationship of marine invertebrates. (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
Econcrete discs were poured by Marine Biology Research & Harbor SEALs scholars. The discs were then placed in the Harlem River to determine if biodiversity can be attracted with the proper construction materials. (Photo by N. Ring)
Nicholas Ring presents his project to the Harbor SEALs younglings to set the level of excellence expected of those coming up in the MBRP.
Mike McCann from The Nature Conservancy and Liz Burmester from the Billion Oyster Project lead a workshop on water quality sampling for the Harbor SEALs Citizen Science team. (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
Matthew Chiu shows off his hats made of up-cycled microplastic fibers derived from laundry machines and dryers.
Sean Lynch, Harbor School Instructor, has been a key partner for the Harbor SEALs and will begin supporting our physical-chemistry team. (Photo by M. Gonzalez)
MBRP and Harbor SEALs director, Mauricio Gonzalez, has advanced to the finals in the prestigious NYC Big Apple Awards. Up to five finalists were named per district – roughly 250 across the city out of more than 4,500 teachers nominated this fall. The final 15 winners will be announced in the coming week.

MARINE BIOLOGY RESEARCH 2017-8 FALL SEMESTER IN REVIEW

Our Harlem/East River Lab. PHASE TWO of our CIVITAS consulting work to provide the necessary information on restoring the marine natural environment.  (Photo by Mauricio Gonzalez).

The 2017 – 2018 school year marks the Marine Biology Research Program’s (MBRP) seventh year of operation and fifth year as a New York State Education Department (NYSED) certified program. This year we’re up for NYSED re-certification and it would be fitting to highlight the achievements of just the last six months with some stats. At the close of our last semester 80% of our students obtained the Career and Technical Education endorsement on their high school diplomas; sixty-four college credits were awarded; seventeen paid internships with over 1200 hours were worked as science consultants with our partners at CIVITAS Citizens, NYU, and Earth Matter; two of our three Geographic Information Systems scholars were the first in New York State to be certified in Digital Quest’s SPACE program; and 100% of our marine research scholars passed the industry assessment: NOCTI’s Natural Resources Systems Management. Most of these achievements are school bests.

GIS SPACE certificate. Kaila is one of the first high schoolers to be certified in GIS in the State of New York.

This year we were able to secure critical lab equipment that were in the plans for over five years. Among these were genetics gear to barcode the marine organisms of the Harbor, stereoscopes to study and identify these same organisms, updated laptops to run our GIS curriculum & complete our long-term research projects, and dedicated table tops to calibrate YSI meters.

Seth (Class of ’18) genetically barcoding shark mouth swabs. He works on this project with Isabella. (Photo by Mauricio Gonzalez)

Our Senior Project Managers, Nailea Rodriguez and Nicholas Ring (Class of ’18), together with our twenty-five Harbor SEALs Citizen Science after school program team members are near completing PHASE TWO of their work for CIVITAS Citizens. This year’s work has been the best on record in terms of planning, communication, operations, data management, and report writing. Our Junior project manager and Operations analyst, Lauren Salitan and Cyd Bloomfield (Class of ’19), have led near flawless sampling runs up the East/Harlem River. For more images of our sampling on the East/Harlem River click here.

Cyd and Lauren, Junior Operations Analyst and Project Manger respectively.

Our professional Advisory Committee met on 6 December to meet our seniors and convene as our Scientific Review Board. Every year our partners come together to review new project proposals and research drafts. It can never be stressed quite enough how the PAC’s level of commitment to the MBRP has elevated the quality of the work we do. For more images and information on our 2017 PAC please click here.

2017 Marine Biology Research Programs Professional Advisory Committee

This year we’d like to highlight two of our partners: Bronx Community College (BCC) and ConEdison. BCC and its Chemistry Department Chair, Dr. Neal Phillip, donated a professional grade weather station and ten high-volume printers to the New York Harbor School-BOP and have agreed to sign a five-year articulation agreement between our GIS labs. ConEdison, under the representation of Michael Kessler and Michael Porto, has renewed a grant to perform lab experiments on contaminants found in the Harbor and their effects on oyster larval development. On 15 December, ConEdison’s Andrew Simpson gave us an exclusive tour of their world-renowned education facility located in Long Island City. Thirteen of our scholars got the inside scoop behind ConEdison’s techniques to maintain the largest underground power grid on the planet. They also gave our scholars a perspective on careers offered, and priceless advice on adapting to the ever changing world of work, namely, “learning how to learn.” For more images of the tour click here.

Work-Based Learning tour of ConEdison’s Education Facility (Photo by Dorick Lee)

Starting July of 2017, Liz Burmester joined the MBRP family as our very own BOP Professional. She comes to us with expert training in community ecology after having finished her doctoral work at Boston University. She’s passionate about science and education. Her doctoral thesis was on a temperate coral species and its recovery based on biological and environmental conditions. She has also taught at the New England Aquarium and mentored many undergraduates. Because of these experiences, she has enhanced the quality of our research at the MBRP. Specifically, she has personally met with all our scholars and reviewed their project proposals and drafts. She’s also brought a fresh perspective on the complex world of secondary education. We are grateful to have her as our newest team member.

Liz Burmester, BOP Pro.

Lastly, as is our tradition every year, on 22 November we celebrated our SEALs-giving meal together. It was exciting to see our alumni interacting with our youngest members and sharing their best experiences in the Program. My favorite stories dealt with the countless times we had to go out and sample in Manhattan’s sub-freezing winter weather or having to run to the ferry – to the school –  to incubate bacteria, clean up, and get back on the last ferry in less than forty-five minutes! For more images of our celebration click here.

Thanks for all your support! The MBRPers and SEALs family would like to wish you a  HARBOR NEW YEAR!

SEALs-Giving 2017

Marine Biology Research 2016-7 Spring Semester in Review

Cindy Isidoro, class of ’17 and Team Benthos mentor (Photo Credit: Van Wong).

The 2016-2017 school year has been one of the most successful for the students of the Marine Biology Research Program. This year our scholars completed phase one of the CIVITAS-NYHS East River Esplanade baseline study. To see our students in action click here. Next, with over half a million students in NYC high schools, five-hundred fifty that apply to compete at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair, to just over one hundred that make it to the finals, the Marine Biology Research Program had two scholars selected for the Second Award in the category of Environmental Science. In total we had a School record breaking high of five students who competed this year.

NYCSEF 2nd Award Winners Grace Carter and Jared Rosin.

Considering that the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is an un-screened school and that we’re going up against the top screened public science and private schools in the city (i.e. Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, Townsend Harris, etc.) this accomplishment is impressive to say the least. Four out of the five that competed were female which are all planning on pursuing a career in STEM; one was an ex-English Language Learner; and one had an Individualized Education Plan. This is testament to what can happen with dedication, team work, and, most importantly,  believing that all students can excel when given the opportunity and the right environment.

2017 NYCSEF Award Winners Grace Carter, Melanie Smith (Erik Wiemer standing in), Jared Rosin, Cindy Isidoro, and Katha Conklin.

One of the most important objectives of the Marine Biology Research Program is to empower students to make a difference in their communities through the research they complete over a three year period. This year they were the stars of the CIVITAS Citizens benefit where philanthropists donated thousands of dollars to the cause of improving the Upper East and East Harlem neighborhoods during their annual benefit at Sothebys on the Upper East Side, NYC.

Project Officers were the stars of the show at the 2017 CIVITAS Citizens benefit at Sothebys.

ConEdison continues to be one of our most active Professional Advisory Committee members. This semester they carried out a Career Management workshop where several of their star employees came to speak to our students about career readiness and opportunites at their company. They spoke about how many companies are willing to train students and even help to pay for their continuing education who meet a minimum of Transferable skills (i.e. team work, timeliness, problem solving), basic tool handling skills (i.e. knowing the difference between a Phillips and flat head screw driver to basic arithmetic and algebra), and who pass a basic entry level assessment.

Industry partners ConEdison visit our scholars for a career development workshop. Among those attending from ConEd were Michael Porto & Michael, Kessler.

Career readiness also requires a workforce that knows and fights for their rights. On April 22nd, our scholars planned a trip to Washington DC to march for Science. In today’s political climate where critical scientific evidence for climate change is being deleted from Federal databases and websites, our scholars weathered the rain with signs in hand and marched in front of the Washington Monument and the White House.

On April 22nd MBRP scholars marched on Washington to protest the current administration’s deleting of scientific evidence on climate change reminiscent of the 1933 Nazi public burning of literature that went against the extreme nationalist ideology of the regime.

Our after school Citizen Science team, the NYHS Harbor SEALs, has been hard at work monitoring the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Most of the research that comes out of our lab is made possible by the effort and dedication of these young scholars. Typically composed of sophomores through seniors, this year we had a strong representation of freshmen who were stellar. Jacqueline Obermayer worked with 10th grade research scholar Cyd Bloomfield using genetic barcoding techniques to determine the species richness of Buttermilk Channel. Jonah Florholmen Boum was an integral part of Team Phys-Chem and is a candidate for our Data Analyst position next school year. Maddie Dominguez has also been an integral part of Team Phys-Chem.

2017 NYHS Harbor SEALs Citizen Science Team

Last week, May 17, we celebrated our 6th Annual Marine Science Symposium at the New York Harbor School. We had over 45 projects on display and over 30 volunteers from various industry and post-secondary institutions help judge. The highlight this year was the large number of volunteers who were former NYHS-MBRP alumni. Click here to view the Symposium Booklet with the complete list of volunteers, senior autobiographies, project titles, and Symposium results. Go New York Harbor School Marine Science!

Our 2017 Marine Biology Research Community.

2017 Senior MBRP Scholars!

Senior scholars of the 2016-7 MBRP.

To allow my students to struggle and flourish is one of the main goals I strive for as a marine research teacher. This year’s MBRP senior scholars completely embody this  way. I have witnessed a remarkable group of youngsters, now young adults, start off as rebellious schooled children and end off self-reliant and self-directed young adults ready for their open-ended futures. There is nothing more satisfying than this as an educator. These remarkable group of folks have managed to complete a comprehensive baseline study of the marine natural resources of the Harlem/East River and will be the first group in our program to be ready to take the Geographic Information Systems SPACE certification assessment.

Melanie Smith (Project Manager), Cindy Isidoro & Grace Carter (Co-Operations Analysts) of the CIVITAS, NYHF, NY Harbor SEALs collaborative study of the Harlem/East River.

Seeing these students work together to learn technical skills, content knowledge, project management skills, and leadership skills to complete their long term research has been remarkable to say the least. Some of the technical skills they developed along the way were methods to study benthos, plankton, physical-chemistry, and biodiversity using genetic barcoding. Melanie Smith, Cindy Isidoro, and Grace Carter managed over twenty-five (25) volunteers at any given point throughout their two year study. They weren’t timid to pull up sediment from the bottom of the Harlem River to look for signs of life. Their love for living things drove them to respectfully sieve through bucket fulls of mud brought up with their Ekman grab. You can find most of their data here. Stay tuned for a complete report to be published by the end of the month.

Melanie Smith (Project Manager), Jared Rosin (Marine Field Tech.), Erik Wiemer (Data Analayst), and Katha Conklin (Phytoplankton Specialist) presenting at the Career and Technical Education 2017 Open House at the DOE’s Central Headquarters, old TWEED Courthouse.

To manage, process, and represent the extensive data sets generated by our four teams we needed an impeccable analytical mind found in the person of Erik Wiemer, Project Data Analyst. Erik single-handily created a data management system and work flow that is now the backbone of the Harbor SEALs environmental monitoring system. All this work couldn’t be accomplished without the dedication of our team captains and field technicians. Katha Conklin (Phytoplankton Team Captain) and Jared Rosin (Field Technician) led their smaller groups on various field excursions that started often at seven in the morning and sometimes ending at dusk, rain or shine. These tenacious young scientists were the bedrock from which reliable data could be guaranteed.

Kaila Scott & Bella Valentin (GIS Analysts)

Gearing up for Geographic Information Systems certification are Kaila Scott, Bella Valentin, and Mariah Gathers. These students will be the first to attempt this feat in June. Their dedication and commitment has been inspiring. They have me on the trot keeping up with their progress as they blaze through the curriculum. These scholars are pioneering the last major component of the Marine Biology Research Program which is to ultimately map the data our teams are gathering.

Map generated by Kaila Scott (GIS Analyst).

Yesterday our MBRP seniors learned of the results of their New York City Science and Engineering Fair competition. Seeing our scholars on stage with the City’s most promising young scientists was an appropriate milestone highlighting the fruits of the struggle we began with in this story. The culture of science excellence in our Program and the school at large is finally beginning to blossom and flourish. 2017 MBRP Scholars, you’ll be missed. A heartfelt thank you to all family, friends, post-secondary and industry partners for your continued support. Look out INTEL here we come!

MBRP scholars competing at the 2017 NYCSEF competition and younger scholars showing up to support!

MARINE BIOLOGY RESEARCH 2016-7 FALL SEMESTER IN REVIEW

MBRP director Mauricio González inspects the experimental unit placed on the Harlem River seawall by his marine scholars. This experiment is testing the effects of live oysters, rip rap, Econcrete discs, and mycelium fungus buoys on marine invertebrate recruitment (Photo credit: Maura Smotrich).

The 2016-2017 school year marks the fourth year since our Marine Biology Research Program received NYSED CTE certification. Since that time, our scholars’ accomplishments have been numerous.  Among them, we’ve had thirty two (32) scholars receive State certification in Marine Resources Management (see our annual report for more information). We’ve had students attend various universities around the country including Columbia University, Fordham University, SUNY Oswego, and Brown University to name just a few. They’ve gone on to study various career majors such as Biology, Business Administration, Environmental Science, among others. They have earned over one hundred fifty-four (154) college credits and accessed over one hundred (100) paid internship opportunities. Mauricio González, program director, reflects: “It’s a wonderful feeling to look back and see what one instructor and forty scholars can accomplish yearly through dedication, passion, and the invaluable support of industry and post-secondary partners.”

10th Grade Marine Research scholar, Cyd Bloomfield, is amused as she reveals an oyster she caught off the Eco-dock on Governors Island with her benthic grab. These grabs are designed to pick up muck from the bottom of the river bed.

Our 2016 Professional Advisory Committee meeting was a success! We had over fifteen (15) members in attendance to review, as a Scientific Review Committee, research plans & final reports, help update curriculum, and provide us with the support needed to continue strong in the years to come. One of our industry partners, ConEdison provided us with a grant to update our after school Citizen Science group, the Harbor SEALs, with a much needed plotter to print large format maps and project boards. Our partners in the DOE’s Office of Post Secondary Readiness also provided us with a grant to update our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and 3D prototyping curriculum. Among the resources we secured were a 3D printing curriculum, 3D printers, and the GIS extensions needed to certify our young scholars in map making. Our young scholars have been hard at work building the printer kits and learning how to design innovative 3D materials to promote the recruitment of marine benthic organisms and thereby increase the biodiversity of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary (HRE).

11th grade Marine Research scholar, Zoe Grier, builds her 3D printer kit from scratch.

Although there’s not a whole lot of biodiversity in the HRE, our scholars get to study the importance of biodiversity and calculate biodiversity indexes through our very own coral reef “simulator” consisting of a 36×48 trifold board and a collage of coral organisms pasted on it. Using a miniature quadrat grid, they calculate percent cover of sessile organisms and use their data to calculate Hill numbers. This training is essential to quantify the biodiversity of the HRE. It is only through these sorts of techniques that we can gain an objective understanding of whether the Estuary is indeed changing. It is our hope that we can start planning yearly visits to real coral and oyster reefs in the years to come.

The MBRP’s coral reef model.

Meanwhile, our 3 college credit SUNY Stony Brook Advanced Marine Biology class has been learning basic oceanography theory. Covering the gamut of topics including the philosophical idea of “progress” through chemical and physical oceanography, they have been preparing for the rigors of college and more specifically, science majors. Many young folks have an overly romantic view of marine biology. Too many are attracted to the fuzzy marine mammals or the cool top predators. In the MBRP, they come to realize that the world of marine biology is  a lot more extensive, messy, and tedious. Before our students begin their long term research projects they must read at least five peer reviewed journal articles, type up a research plan, and have their plan approved by a Scientific Review Committee. Most of what we do can be characterized as learning by “thinking before doing.” This education strategy teaches students how to plan, collect necessary resources, and build the necessary confidence in their ability to think. Once they go through this process they are stronger readers, writers, and mathematicians. This is the trick that makes our program valuable and year after year our alumni come back telling us of how confident they are in their college classes.

Our 11th and 12th grade Advanced Marine Biology scholars characterizing a sample of river muck through a sieve shaker.

This marine biology story wouldn’t be complete without mention of some of the plumbing that goes on behind the scenes to keep our recirculating aquaculture systems functional and our tilapia happy. PVC unions tend to go bust with the large fluctuations of temperature in our greenroom. One crack in the wrong place and our fish can be cut off from the life-sustaining systems. Maintaining these systems is another large component of our 11th grade curriculum. Our scholars learn the basics for keeping RAS systems healthy and in good working order.

Before and after shot of the PVC plumbing repair this last winter break.

All this hard work makes us really hungry. So this Valentines week, one of our special partners baked cupcakes for us which we dubbed “love cakes.” Thank you to all who provide the support and motivation needed to help keep this level of intense and ambitious work. Stay tuned for our next update where we’ll be highlighting one of our outstanding 12th grade research scholars. Go New York Harbor School Marine Science!

Our 11th grade Marine Research scholar, Matthew Chiu, holding up a “love cake.”

Work-Based Learning and Career and Technical Education in the MBRP

MBRP scholars deploying an experiment on the Harlem River for the Non-Profit group CIVITAS Citizens.
MBRP scholars deploying an experiment on the Harlem River for the non-profit group CIVITAS Citizens aboard the NYHF vessel, Virginia. Real-World experiences give scholars the opportunity to practice the technical and professional skills they learn in the MBRP (Photo Credit: Mauricio González).

The New York Harbor School’s Marine Biology Research Program (MBRP) provides Work-Based Learning (WBL) experiences to its students in the 10 through 12th grades. WBL gives our marine scholars opportunities to study complex subject matter as well as gain vital workplace skills in a hands-on environment. WBL experiences also provide students with career awareness, career options exploration, appropriate workplace skills development, and the opportunity to relate academic skills to real-life applications. For more information take a look at our 2016 MBRP annual report

MBRP scholars visit the premiere sociology research organization mdrc where they get to participate in a mock research experiment.
MBRP scholars visit the premiere sociology research organization mdrc where they get to participate in a mock research experiment. Work site visits allow scholars to  feel they have access and fit in to places they would otherwise feel are inaccessible.

Some WBL activities appropriate for every grade level are: guest speaker visits to the classroom, career fairs, job site tours, job shadowing, work with professional mentors on research projects, and internships. Internships are considered the pinnacle of the WBL spectrum. As students see the connections between their lab/field work and what is required at the work site, they gain an understanding of the importance of learning and are able to make better decisions about their futures.

Professional visits by Mr. Michael Kessler from ConEdison. He invited a team from the Coast Guard Auxxiliary and Bronx Community College to help instill the value of a good work ethic and striving for the top.
Professional visits by Mr. Michael Kessler from ConEdison. He invited a team from the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Dr. Neal Phillip from Bronx Community College to help instill the values of a good work ethic and striving for the top (Photo Credit: Mauricio González).

Some of our yearly professional visits include Mr. Michael Kessler from the Consolidated Edison Corporation of NY  (CON-ED), Capt. Matthew Leahey from the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and Mrs. Rachael Miller from the Rozalia Project. Our year wouldn’t be the same without the dedication of these professionals to making not only our scholars into better professionals but also improving the world around us.

The MBRP has produced over 1989 Work-Based Learning opportunities for its students in the last 5 years. Every year has been better than the previous.
The MBRP has produced over 1989 Work-Based Learning opportunities for its students in the last 5 years. Every year has been better than the previous (Data: 2016 MBRP Annual Report).

Since 2012, the MBRP has helped scholars access over eighty-eight (88) paid internships, seventy-five (75) service learning opportunities, four hundred twenty-three (423) professional visits, forty (40) scholar presentations in conferences, and twenty-five (25) work-site tours. Scholars have also had the opportunity to generate over twenty-eight (28) ePortfolios and forty-four (44) Work-Skills Employability Profiles. For more information take a look at our 2016 MBRP annual reportSome of our internships partners include CIVITAS Citizens, Cell Motion Labs, Earth Matter, The Nature Conservancy, The River Project, NYU, St. Francis College, Roger Williams University, and Columbia University.

Cezanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid present at the Finals round of the NYC Science and Engineering Fair. They eventually went on to win 3rd prize.
Cézanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid present at the Finals round of the NYC Science and Engineering Fair. They eventually went on to win 3rd prize. Professional presentations give scholars the experience needed to gain self-confidence in public speaking (Photo Credit: Ms. Ronnie Woodhouse).

CTE + STEM = NY Harbor Restoration

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September 17. Melanie Smith, our Senior Project Manager (10 o’clock), Grace Carter & Cindy Isidoro, our Senior Operations Analysts, and the Harbor SEALs team organizing their first data collection day of the 2016-2017 season.

Welcome back to the 2016 – 2017 research season! Here, at the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Marine Biology Research (MBRP) & Harbor SEALs programs, our budding scientists have started the year picking up where they left off last – In full NY Harbor data collection, data analysis, and restoration mode. Our professional young SEALs scholars are finishing up their year long characterization of the Harlem River, a project designed to inform local government agencies of the environmental status of the Harlem River.

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The Benthos and Biodiversity Teams: (L to R) Isabella Torres (Biodiversity Captain), Marcus Charles (Benthos Captain), Grace Carter (Senior Co-Operations Analyst), and Cindy Isidoro (Senior Co-Operations Analyst). In this figure, they’ve pulled up an Eckman grab with a sample of good old NY muck to see if anything can indeed live in it and what these organisms may indicate of the health of the River.

This project is important because in order to propose viable solutions for the River’s environmental restoration we need to create a baseline of its ecological status. The civic, non-profit group CIVITAS, led by Ms. Maura Smotrich, has placed its trust in our scholars to deliver the information necessary to inform the East River Esplanade Ecological Edge project that will help restore the East and Harlem Rivers. This will in turn improve the lives of millions of New Yorkers. To view some of the preliminary raw data click on the following links: Physical Chemistry, Plankton, & Benthos. (This project is completely student led.)

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The Phys-Chem and Plankton Teams: In the background, Nicholas Ring (Junior Project Manager) heads up the testing of the physical and chemical parameters of the River. During this sampling run he observed that the dissolved oxygen was hovering around 5mg/L which is the first dangerous tolerance marker for most marine organisms. Right below this level, organisms stop reproducing. These levels are characteristic of most of the Harbor where sea walls are located  due to their anti-life characteristics, close to the muck that receives all the CSO effluents, and in September when the water temperature is typically at its apex.

This year, the Marine Biology Research Program is offering its students up to 18 college credits upon successful completion of the Program’s curriculum and assessments. In today’s economy, students need to be college AND career ready. The MBRP offers a 12 college credit program in Science Research through SUNY Albany, 3 college credits for passing the NOCTI Natural Resources Systems exam, and, new this year, 3 college credits for Oceanography through SUNY Stony Brook. Apart from these wonderful opportunities, our high school students will also have the chance, for the first time in NY State, to complete and become certified in Geographic Information Systems through Digital Quest’s SPACE certification. Last season, our CTE internship SEA WORKS program paid out over 50,000 dollars in salary for students’ work throughout their different CTE programs of which CIVITAS was a major internship provider for our MBRP scholars.

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Polychaeta worms are often found in the muck where dissolved oxygen levels are low.

Lastly, our Professional Advisory Committee member Mr. Michael Kessler from ConEdison has been supporting the MBRP and other CTE programs by helping to create a pipeline into technical jobs right out of our High School, the New York Harbor School, to give our young scholars options to enter the world of work with high paying, stable jobs of the future. A big thanks to all our Professional Advisory Committee members for stepping up to the plate and leading our school community members and the MBRP into a year brimming with exciting opportunities.

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Mudsnails are also frequent inhabitants of the River’s benthos.

2016 NEW YORK HARBOR SCHOOL MARINE SCIENCE SYMPOSIUM

Our 2016 Marine Biology Research Community
Our 2016 Marine Biology Research Community

Greetings Marine Biology Research Program (MBRP) scholars, Professional Advisory Committee members, New York Harbor School Staff, Family, and Friends! Thank you again for making the 5th Annual Harbor School Symposium a success. It was especially heartfelt since the director of the event could not be there due to personal circumstances. All the Marine Research scholars, volunteers, guests, guardians, and staff members stepped up to make the night’s events run smoothly. The leadership and teamwork are a testament to the dedication and maturity of all those associated to the MBRP. Click here to view the Symposium results and booklet. Go New York Harbor School Science!

2016 NEW YORK HARBOR SCHOOL MARINE SCIENCE SYMPOSIUM

160427_5th_annual_marine_scieence_symposium_cezanne_2You’re cordially invited to attend our 5th Annual Marine Science Symposium at the New York Harbor School on May 18 starting at 12pm. Experience cutting edge science from our very own Marine Biology Research Scholars and our special guest Mr. Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI Schools Program Manager. Mr. Fitzpatrick will be sharing his journey through the exciting world of Geospatial technology. Also presenting are this year’s NYC Science and Engineering Fair participants and finalists including Cezanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid who received the third award among NYC’s top science scholars for their project on oyster restoration. Go New York Harbor School science!

Please RSVP at: mgonzalez@newyorkharborschool.org

Citizen Scientist Environmental Monitoring of the Hudson River Estuary