Category Archives: Partners

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.

Marine Biology Research!

Team MBRP Cezanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid swimming circles around NYC's brightest on March 6's NYC Science and Engineering Fair.
Team MBRP Cezanne Bies and Zain Bin Khalid swimming circles around NYC’s brightest on March 6’s NYC Science and Engineering Fair. (Photo credit: Ms. Woodhouse, MBRP mom)

This was a big week for Marine Biology Research Scholars. On March 6 four of our advanced marine research scholars presented at the NYC Science and Engineering Fair. Competing with over four hundred of the City’s brightest science scholars, Cezanne Bies, Zain Bin Khalid, Marc Jimenez, and Luca Goldmansour showcased their long term research projects to judges from NYC’s top research institutions.

Advanced marine science scholar Luca Goldmansour, class of '16.
Advanced marine science scholar Luca Goldmansour, class of ’16.
Advanced marine science scholar Marc Jimenez, class of '16.
Advanced marine science scholar Marc Jimenez, class of ’16.

On Friday, March 4th, four of our intermediate research scholars presented their research to their partners CIVITAS, the Hudson River Foundation, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Led by Melanie Smith (Project Manager) and team members Grace Carter (biodiversity team leader), Katha Conklin (plankton team leader), and Cindy Isidoro (benthos team leader) they successfully presented the project’s final Quality Assurance Project Plan for approval.

Left to right: Jameson Mitchell, Maura Smotrich, Cindy Isidoro, Katha Conklin, Grace Carter, Susan Maresca, Melanie Smith, Mauricio Gonzalez, Kate Boicourt, Jim Tripp.
Left to right: Jameson Mitchell, Maura Smotrich, Cindy Isidoro, Katha Conklin, Grace Carter, Susan Maresca, Melanie Smith, Mauricio Gonzalez, Kate Boicourt, Jim Tripp. (Photo credit: Maura Smotrich, CIVITAS)

And finally, on Monday, February 29, the Department of Education’s Office of Post Secondary Readiness recognized our Professional Advisory Committee member Captain and Scientist Matthew Leahey from NGO Seasavers and the Coast Guard Auxiliary with a plaque of recognition for his outstanding support of the Harbor School and the Marine Biology Research Program specifically. Captain Leahey got our team started on monitoring plastics in the NY Harbor before any other organization on the City was doing so. He led the MBRP on multiple expeditions aboard his vessel, the Nomad. He also custom built a manta tow to perform the sampling at the Verrazano narrows. When not on the water, he was leading workshops at our lab on water resources, plastics contamination, and the difficulty of environmental measurements for monitoring. We’d like to thank all our Professional Advisory Committee members and partners for making all these accomplishments possible. And a special thank you goes out to Captain Leahey for his amazing dedication to our future scientists and our city at large. Go Harbor School Science!

Captain and Scientist Matthew Leahey with our Harbor scholars preparing for a plankton tow.
Captain and Scientist Matthew Leahey with our Harbor scholars preparing for a plankton tow.

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

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

Harbor SEALs @ Black Rock Forest

Harbor SEAL seniors celebrate on a peak overlooking Black Rock Forest

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)

For using benthic macro-invertebrates for water quality go to the EPA’s and PBS’s websites: http://www.epa.gov/bioiweb1/html/benthosclean.htmlhttp://www.pbs.org/teachers/ecoinvestigators/lesson-plans/freshwater/creepy-crawly-water-quality/

SEALs TNC LEAF Graduation 2012

Last night three of our Harbor SEALs and one other NYHS student graduated from The Nature Conservancy’s LEAF Program. The ceremony was held at the Marriott Hotel on West Street in downtown Manhattan. The highlight of the night was listening to the kids’ stories of how working to conserve the great outdoors changed their lives. We heard tales of students doing their laundry in haunted basements, walking miles in the dark of night to take out the garbage, taking down fences to create biological corridors, and going to drive-in movies for the first time. The audience, comprised in part by New York Trustees, reminisced of their younger years and could only be pleased of hearing about the important work and wonderful experiences lived. Well done SEALs! You are the hope of our planet…

Harbor SEALs Graduating from LEAFS (TNC 2012). For more pics see the Imago tab.