SEALS & CIVITAS: Citizen Science Monitoring of the East River Esplanade

Pierre, senior genetic scientist mentor, and Nailea, beginner geneticist of the SEALS biodiversity team documenting a sample during our first East River Esplanade expedition of the NY Harbor SEALS/CIVITAS collaboratioon.
Pierre Landet, senior genetic scientist mentor, and Nailea Rodriguez, beginner geneticist of the SEALS biodiversity team documenting a sample during our first East River Esplanade expedition of the NY Harbor SEALS/CIVITAS collaboration.

Yesterday the NY Harbor SEALS team, a citizen science after school program at the New York Harbor School and the consulting branch of the Marine Biology Research Program, embarked on it’s first of at least fourteen expeditions up the East River to characterize the marine habitat between 96 and 116 streets. The purpose of these expeditions is to determine the biodiversity and water quality at this site in order to propose a restoration strategy to local government agencies. Composed of four teams, the SEALS analyze sediment, plankton-plastics, physical-chemistry, and genetic biodiversity samples using professional instrumentation and techniques. We would like to thank our post-secondary and project partners Dr. Alberto Stolfi of NYU, Dr. Kathleen Nolan of St. Francis College, Dr. Michael Judge of Manhattan College, Maura Smotrich of CIVITAS, the Hudson River Foundation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Environmental Defense Fund, the New York Harbor Foundation, and the New York Harbor School for their ongoing commitment to our budding Marine Biology Research scholars. Go New York Harbor School marine science!

NY Harbor SEALS citizen science team.
NY Harbor SEALS citizen science team.

NY Harbor SEALs Quality Assurance Project Plan. 

Download (PDF, 5.37MB)

SEALS/CIVITAS training session
SEALS/CIVITAS training session

Harbor Seals Retake New York Harbor

Harbor seal on a Governors Island dock in February 2015. Credit Ketelyn Fong, Class of 2015, NYHS.
Harbor seal on a Governors Island dock in February, 2015. Credit: Ketelyn Fong, Class of 2015, NYHS.

On one cold afternoon in February during the harsh winter of 2014 a harbor seal climbed on to a dock at Governors Island, NYC. This top consumer of the food chain has now been spotted in several sites along Manhattan Island recently. These are critical events that indirectly or directly, depending on your point of view, reveal that our waters have steadily improved since the passing of the Clean Water Act in 1972. It’s also fitting that the seal revealed itself to us on the last year of our Harbor SEALs / EPA Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring of the Lower Hudson River Estuary. As we close this important chapter of our work, harbor seal on dock, we’re preparing for our next big project. We’ll now be focusing on creating a baseline study and monitor the effects of different construction materials on the East River. This new project, in partnership with the East Side non-profit community group, CIVITAS, is being run to inform the reconstruction of the East River Esplanade and continue our efforts to restore the harbor seal’s habitat around NYC. Please find an opportunity to read our Final EPA Citizen Science Water Quality Report and visit our webpage. Here’s to the return of the harbor seal!

Harbor SEALs Citizen Science Team's last sampling day of the Water Quality of the Lower Hudson River Estuary.
Harbor SEALs Citizen Science Team’s last sampling day of the Water Quality of the Lower Hudson River Estuary.

2015 New York Harbor School Marine Science Symposium

Andrew Sommer )CLass of 2015) presenting on enhancing biodiversity in the Hudson-Raritan Estuary using porcelain tiles.
Andrew Sommer, class of ’15, presenting on enhancing biodiversity in the Hudson-Raritan Estuary using porcelain tiles. Photo Credit: Nelson Martinez, MBRP Parent

Greetings Marine Biology Research Program (MBRP) scholars, Professional Advisory Committee members, New York Harbor School Staff, Family, and Friends! Thank you again for helping to make the 4th Annual Harbor School Symposium a success. It was a real pleasure to see the team work, quality, and leadership that made the operation run as smoothly as it did on May 13th. Below is a list of highlights that are worth noting:

01) Parents volunteered to feed our hardworking scholars,
02) Parents and scholars worked together to manage the set up of tables and other vital logistics,
03) A team of parents and scholars managed all the judging,
04) School custodial staff set up the mess hall and made sure the building was looking beautiful,
05) School staff brought their classes to view the projects,
06) A student and a parent stepped up to pull the Symposium booklet together,
07) School administration attended the whole event, helped to judge, and opened up our ceremony,
08) The 12th grade judges helped to elevate the level of science and rigor of their younger classmates,
09) A team of volunteer judges from local post-secondary institutions and industry made this the quickest, fairest, and smoothest judging to date,
10) Alumni added to the program spirit and plugged in wherever they were needed,
11) Our Professional Advisory Committee member and guest speaker held the critical award ceremony spot together,
12) Parents photographed the whole event,
13) Over 50 students overcame their fears of presenting and stepped up to the challenge,
…and many, many more little and great things…
I hope you all feel that this was a rewarding experience and that you’ll consider coming out again next year. Click here for the judging results and for more pictures of the event. Click here to view the 2014 – 2015 science projects. Go NYHS Marine Science!
Our Marine Biology Research Community,2015 NYHS ScienceSymposium
Our Marine Biology Research Community (May 13, 2015; NYHS Science Symposium). Photo Credit: Nelson Martinez, MBRP Parent.

2015 NEW YORK HARBOR SCHOOL MARINE SCIENCE SYMPOSIUM

symposium color 2

You’re cordially invited to attend our 4th annual Science Symposium at the New York Harbor School on May 13 starting at 12pm. Experience cutting edge science from our very own Marine Biology Research Scholars and our special guest Dr. Michael Judge, Biology chairperson at Manhattan College. Dr. Judge will be sharing his journey to a science career and talk about his latest research in gastropod community ecology. Also presenting are our first and second place winners at the NYC Science and Engineering Fair, Nicolle Martinez and Tahirah Abdo. Go New York Harbor School science!

New York Harbor School: College AND Career Ready!

Marine Biology Research scholars Nicolle and Tahirah
Marine Biology Research scholars Nicolle and Tahirah

Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Work-Based Learning at the New York Harbor School has just raised the bar! Marine Biology Research (MBRP) scholars Nicolle Martinez and Tahirah Abdo will be graduating with 8 SUNY Albany research college credits, a CTE technical endorsement in Natural Resources Management, first and second awards at the NYC Science and Engineering Fair,  and attend Ivy league and top colleges with full scholarships! This is testimony to both team work, as their projects were supported by the whole MBRP team, and their own personal leadership and ambition. In total, our MBRP senior scholars have received to-date over USD 500, 000 in scholarships, have participated in internships around the city, presented at regional and national conferences, and worked with leading marine scientists to complete their research – all while leading research efforts to find solutions for the restoration of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Thank you to all our Professional Advisory Committee members, University & Industry Partners, the NY Harbor School Staff, the NY Harbor Foundation, and family members for all your support!

Finals Round at the American Museum of Natural History
Finals Round at the American Museum of Natural History

Field Testing Foldscopes in the Hudson River Estuary

Foldscope built by Jose Martinez, Marine Research Scholar.
Foldscope built by Jose Martinez, Marine Research Scholar.

Earlier this year, the Marine Biology Research Program was chosen as a Beta tester of the latest in microscope technology – the PrakashLab Foldscope – from Stanford University. 10th grade Marine Research Scholar, Jose Martinez, stepped up to the challenge of building and testing the scope. To prepare, he wrote down a comprehensive step-by-step guide to building the scope. After 45 minutes of work he was able to successfully project an image of an amoeba on to a dark wall using the Foldscope and his cellular phone lamp. Jose is formulating a project to record all things microscopic associated to the Hudson River Estuary. For a great video on Foldscopes in Ted Talks click here and for more images of Jose’s work click here.

Marine Research Scholar Jose after building the Foldscope.
Marine Research Scholar Jose after building the Foldscope.

 

New York Harbor School Science!

Nicolle presenting at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair this past Sunday, March 1st.
Nicolle presenting at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair this past Sunday, March 1st.

On Sunday March 1st, Nicolle Martinez and Tahirah Abdo, 12th grade Marine Biology Research scholars, competed in the premiere Regional Science Symposium – The New York City Science and Engineering Fair. After 2 years of determination, set backs, and perseverance, these two students represented the Harbor School among more than 450 of New York City’s budding scientists and engineers. Among the high schools in attendance were Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech., Townsend Harris, and other top STEM schools from around the City. Although only two students represented Harbor this year, most of the Marine Biology Research students complete a research project. Writing a college level research paper and presenting in front of an audience are prerequisites to obtain the program’s credential. If you’d like to view Nicolle and Tahirah’s research papers, please click here.  Next year we have contenders in topics such as: oyster genetics, sea squirt genetics, mycelium fungus buoys, and many, many more. A big thank you to all our Harbor staff, Professional Advisory Committee members, friends, and family for all your support. And congratulations MBRP!

For your calendars: On May 13th the New York Harbor School will be hosting it’s 4th annual Science Symposium!

Tahirah at Sheppard Hall, City College during NYCSEF
Tahirah at Sheppard Hall, City College during NYCSEF

Welcome to the 2014 – 2015 Marine Biology Research Program!

Graduating Marine Research Scholar, Makayla with program instructor Mauricio González.
Graduating Marine Research Scholar, Makayla with program instructor Mauricio González.

Welcome scholars, guardians, industry partners, and friends to the 2014 – 2015 school year at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School. This year we again have a lot to celebrate! Our Program, Marine Biology Research (MBRP), has been approved by the State of New York as an official Career and Technical Education (CTE)  Program of Study. After 3 years of intense work finishing our self-study, writing curricula, seeking out strategic industry partnerships, aligning instruction to Common Core, CDOS, and NYS standards, and shining during our external review, our 2014 marine research scholars graduated with the golden seal of CTE.

Below you’ll find a few documents you’ll need in order to be ready for this new and exciting year:

01. Marine Biology Science Research Combined Syllabus

02. MBRP Materials List

03. MBRP/SUNY Albany College Credit Policy & Procedures for 11th and 12th Graders

Although graduation indicates the start of summer and vacation for most, it gave the instructor, Mauricio González, the time to work on the marine science lab. All the recirculating systems were serviced and shelving units were installed to store all our science gear.
Although graduation indicates the start of summer and vacation for most, it gave the instructor, Mauricio González, time to work on the marine science lab. All the recirculating systems were serviced and shelving units were installed to store all our science gear.

2014 Harbor School Science Symposium

Makeda, Advanced Marine Research Scholar, at the New York Harbor School 3rd Annual Science Symposium
Makeda, Advanced Marine Research Scholar, at the New York Harbor School’s 3rd Annual Science Symposium.

On May 15, more than 46 research projects went on display for the 3rd annual New York Harbor School Science Symposium. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Peter Morawski from the NIH, said, “I was so happy to have been a part of it! You’ve got some great kids!” Parents, Staff,  Professional Advisory Committee members, Marine Research Scholars, and over 20 guests from the Netherlands came together to help make this symposium a success. Our school administration and Custodial staff provided key logistical support. Thanks a million! For more details, award winners, and images of the Symposium click here. For our Symposium Booklet with a summary of the projects click here: NYHS Symposium Program

Marine Genetics Research

Marine Research Scholars Cézanne, Pierre, Raphael, and Zain (not shown) at the 2014 UBP Symposium.
Marine Research Scholars Cézanne, Pierre, Raphael, and Zain (not shown) at the 2014 UBP Symposium.

Congratulations to our 10th grade Marine Research Genetics Scholars! On May 27th they presented their genetics project at the 2014 Urban Barcode Project Symposium hosted by the American Museum of Natural History. The team communicated their findings with molecular biologists from around NYC. Their project titled: “The Walrus and the Carpenter: Searching for Genetic Similarities and Differences between Wild and Native Populations of Crassostrea virginica” sought to determine if there have been any mutations in the Eastern Oyster’s mitochondrial DNA after its long history of selective breeding. Click here to read more.

Civic Scientist Environmental Monitoring of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary