Welcome to the 2013 – 2014 school year at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School. We have a lot to celebrate! The Marine Biology Research Program and its research students have a new home this year. We’ve moved to the Marine Science room on the first floor. This space is being transformed so that we can perform all of our programmed activities. We’re also almost finished with our Self Study document. This document is required of all CTE programs by the New York State Education Department in order for students to receive CTE certification on their high school diplomas. Lastly, below you’ll find a few documents you’ll need in order to be ready for the Marine Biology Research Program. Wishing you all the best!
Intermediate Marine Biology Research (MBRP) students monitor the Upper Hudson River Estuary (HRE) on Governors Island. With water quality gear in hand the students set out to monitor the waters on a weekly basis to determine the state of health of the HRE in the heart of NYC. The students replicate their sampling and collect their data on data sheets. They then process the information in the lab and work towards completing a college level research paper which they will submit at the end of the year to the NYC Science and Engineering fair in order to compete for scholarships and prizes. Some of the projects involve monitoring physical-chemical water parameters, zooplankton, and fish. This kind of experiential learning helps them to develop critical thinking skills and prepares them for college and industry while keeping it real. For more images of their work click here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The first correct answer will win a prize (high school students only, sorry;).
The main focus of the MBRP and Harbor SEALs is for high school students to work on real scientific research projects. Projects, such as the ones being worked on by 12th graders Stephanie Rodriguez, Jasmine Hernandez, and Tony Fernandez, span all of the academic subjects students are required to complete in high school while giving them invaluable first hand, experiential learning that stays with them for the rest of their lives. Jasmine and Stephanie have been experimenting with the effects of various types of nutrients on plants to better understand the nature of eutrophication of the Hudson River Estuary, plant physiology, and the project management process. Since last year, they have been putting together their projects from scratch. From constructing the growth support system to data collection and analysis to presenting their results professionally in front of an audience, they have set the gears of the program into motion. One or more of the skills they are practicing will transfer directly into their post secondary education and professional careers. All of these skills will transfer into their personal lives. We wish them the best of success. (For more images click here.)
On Wednesday, December 5th, 13 marine specialists gathered on Governors Island for the annual Marine Biology Research Program’s Professional Advisory Committee meeting. MBRP 12th grade students convened at Soissons Dock to welcome the members off the ferry with water quality gear in hand. Once the members disembarked, we headed over to Pier 101 to work on water quality and participate in a short presentation by SeaArc Scientists Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Ido Sella on Econcrete. We then headed over to the MBRP lab and had a working lunch session where we discussed how to improve the Program. Our two main goals were, 01) the further development of internship opportunities for students and, 02) the further development of research collaborations between our PAC members and the MBRP. For a list of our accomplishments click here.
So far this year the 10th grade Marine Biology Research students have done a great job of working together to produce exceptional results. Putting together Aquatic Ecosystem Models, they’ve begun to learn the basics of water chemistry, physics, and ecology. From jump starting the nitrification cycle in their Models by adding ammonium chloride and nitrifying bacteria to adding terrestrial plants for nitrate removal, these future environmental scientists are learning what it takes to keep an ecosystem healthy from the bottom up. Once these students have mastered keeping their Ecosystems healthy they’ll start formulating projects around the Hudson River Estuary to apply their skills to the real world. Continue here.
This weekend, the Harbor SEALs trekked up to Black Rock Forest in Cornwall, New York to complete a one day ecology workshop sponsored by a Toyota Grant. We monitored the physical-chemical parameters of Cascade Brook and determined the health of this pristine ecosystem. With chemical and biological sampling gear in hand, we took a roller coaster-type ride up to the Brook on pick up trucks and got to work early Saturday morning. The SEALs team were able to determine that, although the Brook’s waters are pristine, it’s not immune to the effects of acid rain. We found pH values of around 5 to 6 units. Surveying the vertebrates and macroinvertebrates, the SEALs determined that the Brook has Type II organisms that are semi-tolerant to pollutants and thus are experiencing some stress. It wasn’t all work though as the team celebrated Ameena’s 17th birthday, hiked up to one of the Forest’s peeks, played board games, and delightfully cooperated in preparing meals. Thanks Rebecca and all for a great time! (For more pictures, click here: IMAGO)
Ameena, a 12th grade Harbor SEAL, addressed the guests at the Environmental Protection Agency’s 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Together with a member of the NY Harbor School’s Scuba Program, they delivered an impressive message about the future of clean water. “We have a right to protect the water’s resources and have access to our natural heritage,” said Ameena. There’s a long way to go but a new generation of environmentalists waiting to play their part.
On October 13 the Harbor SEALs, in collaboration with NYC urban ecologists and students from other NYHS CTE programs, planted about 20 “tortillas” of eel grass off of a decaying Brooklyn pier. These “tortillas” are made of cut-out burlap about 10 to 12 inches in diameter with 10 Eel grass individuals woven between the material in a concentric pattern. The team set up 6 stations with between 3 and 4 “tortillas per station, detailed GPS points were taken of each station, sedimentation rate was measured, and water quality monitoring was performed. It was another great day of environmental and team work under the NYC sun. (For more information click here.)
Citizen Scientist Environmental Monitoring of the Hudson River Estuary