Tag Archives: citizen science

Geographic Information Systems at the New York Harbor School!

This map was completed by Ivan Carrasquillo, class of '16, as part of the GIS curriculum of the Marine Biology Research Program.

This map was completed by Ivan Carrasquillo, class of ’16, as part of the GIS curriculum of the Marine Biology Research Program.

Whenever the question “where” is asked Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to get the best answer. One of the major components of the Marine Biology Research Program is our GIS lab. Marine Biology Research scholars begin with introductory lessons on the importance of maps, the use of Global Positioning Systems for geo-referencing places & geocaching, and the differences between coordinate systems. Our scholars then begin implementing Digital Quest’s STEM aGIS curriculum of which the above map is one example. Our students are also required to begin a GIS project from scratch. We’ve had very diverse projects come out of our lab over the years ranging from Stop and Frisk to coastal land use. This year two of our scholars, Julia Montilla and Maria Giraldo are embarking on the Program’s first consulting project to map the American Chestnut trees that have been restored in Green-Wood cemetery and Prospect Park, NYC, by our Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) partner Bart Chezar and his team. We couldn’t have offered these wonderful opportunities if it wasn’t for the generous support of our PAC partner Jim Hall who has provided us with ArcGIS licenses over the years and the folks at ESRI, the makers of ArcGIS. It is important to note that ArcGIS is the industry standard software in GIS. We have been working to acquire the 2nd and 3rd parts of the curriculum  in order to offer our scholars the possibility of obtaining Digital Quest’s GIS SPACE credential. The GIS field is a up-and-coming STEM field and a great 21st Century skill set for our scholars to add to their ePortfolios.

This map was created by Julia Montilla, class of 16, as part of an ESRI tutorial.
This map was created by Julia Montilla, class of 16, as part of an ESRI tutorial.

 

Marine Genetics at the New York Harbor School!

Marine Biology Research scholars Isabella Torres, Jared Vittore, and Seth Rivera extracting DNA from their algae samples.
Marine Biology Research scholars Isabella Torres, Jared Vittore, and Seth Rivera, class of ’18,  extracting DNA from their algae samples.

On February 6, 2016, a team of five Marine Biology Research scholars set out to sequence the genetic barcodes of marine organisms from the Hudson-Raritan Estuary in order to monitor its biodiversity. Part of our larger CIVITAS project (see previous post), these scholars have collected samples of algae and invertebrates from our Harlem River expeditions to create a baseline of what’s living there today. This type of work requires tedious pipetting, labeling on tiny vials, centrifuging, vortexing, and other crucial steps just to be able to extract the DNA from the organisms’ cells. During our next lab, these scholars will amplify the DNA and run it through a gel electrophoresis in order to prepare for genetic sequencing. The last step will be to identify the species using bioinformatics. You can see their research proposals here. A big thanks to our sponsor organization The Urban Barcode Project and Dr. Christine Marizzi from Cold Spring Harbor Lab for her and her team’s support.

Marine Biology Research scholars Zen Mena-Rodriguez and Nailea Rodriguez extracting the gonads of their marine invertebrate samples.
Marine Biology Research scholars Zen Mena-Rodriguez and Nailea Rodriguez, class of ’18, extracting the gonads from their marine invertebrate samples.

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.

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

MBRP – Genetics, Remote Sensing, and Mycofoam

Our 10th grade marine research scholar, Zain, extracting DNA from a tissue sample of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica.
Our 10th grade marine research scholars Zain, Cézanne, Pierre, and Raphael extracted DNA from tissue samples of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica.

The Marine Biology Research Program has started 2014 with spunk. A select group of 10th grade marine research scholars are currently working on a project comparing the genetic differences between three eastern oyster groups – Muscungus Bay, Fishers Island, and wild type oysters from Soundview Park, Bronx. The importance of this project is to determine genetic similarities or differences caused by years of selective breeding. This project may also inform restoration efforts of the types of oysters that may best adapt to the Hudson River Estuary. Our 11th grade scholars are learning to configure and calibrate a professional water quality remote sensor to measure chlorophyll – an important environmental variable for oyster restoration. Lastly, a team of 10th and 11th grade scholars met last week with Ecovative scientist Sue Van Hook to brainstorm how to replace the use of Styrofoam with biodegradable foams made of fungus. Aside from these great projects, our young research scholars have been hard at work in our marine science lab to get the re-circulating systems up and running. We expect to have many exciting projects for this year’s Science Symposium in May. Thanks to Sam Janis from the Harbor Foundation, Pablo Garcia, long time field staff of the NY Harbor School, Pete Malinowski, NY Harbor School’s aquaculture teacher, and the Urban Barcode Project folks for their support.

Marine Biology Research 2013 Fall Semester in Review

...after a long day's fieldwork...
…after a long day’s fieldwork…

The 2013 Fall semester at the Marine Biology Research and Harbor SEALs Programs has been full of progress. Starting with the generous support of our scholars, we were able to move our lab to the Marine Science room in 3 days. On October 12 we set off to restore eel grass at Brooklyn Pier’s Park with our team leader, Nicolle. Continue reading Marine Biology Research 2013 Fall Semester in Review

Day 02 – Harbor SEALs HRE Monitoring

Tahirah and Orlando pull up their group's water sample from the East River
Tahirah and Orlando pull up their group’s water sample from the East River

The Harbor SEALs completed their 2nd day of monitoring of the Upper Hudson River Estuary. Team work was in full display as the SEALs worked in subfreezing temperature. The data is available for the public here. Once the samples are taken, students quickly measure the dissolved oxygen using the Azide modification of the Winkler method, measure temperature, and enterococcus bacteria. It is quite a scene to watch the level of intensity the students obtain on a given sampling day. For more images of the SEALs at work click here.

On another note, congratulations to the winners of the invertebrate larvae identification contest. 10th graders Tahirah and Nicolle successfully identified the nauplius larvae as pertaining to a barnacle.

Harbor SEALs before their lab work..
The Harbor SEALs.

Day 01 – Harbor SEALs Monitoring Kick-Off + More

Nauplius caught on Pier 101 on Thursday, February 7th, 2013
Nauplius caught on Pier 101 by MBRP student researchers on Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Last Wednesday, New York Harbor School’s Harbor SEALs kicked off their first day of full scale monitoring for the Hudson River Estuary  Water/Air Quality Monitoring Program. We had  a total of 21 volunteers working the jam packed schedule. In all, 4 different localities were sampled at exactly the same time in order to compare water conditions and determine the influence of the currents from the different bodies of water flowing through the Battery. We thank all the volunteers – adults and children who participated. We also thank the EPA for its support of this important project. We are in the process of developing a page on this site to post the data.

Additionally, last week our 11th grade Marine Biology Research students found a nauplius larva during their weekly sampling run at Pier 101. With a water temperature of 4 C and winter in full force, we were surprised to see that the Harbor is preparing for an early spring. Can you identify what Infraclass of organisms it belongs to? E-mail your answer to mgonzalez@harborseals.org. The first correct answer will win a prize (high school students only, sorry;).