The Harbor SEALs have been hard at work this season recovering marine debris from the rip rap surrounding Governor’s Island, NYC for the Hudson River Foundation. Student interns and volunteers from the New York Harbor School have been managing this project since September of 2021. The team is broken up into four work groups 01) Data Analysis, 02) Resource Recovery, 03) Communications, and 04) Water Quality. The team submitted a proposal to ConEdison and were awarded a grant to purchase the equipment necessary to safely scale the rip rap and recover NYC’s pervasive debris. Large garbage bags full of plastic bottles, boat line, dock Styrofoam, sports balls of all types, and mini alcohol bottles dot and span the rip rap. But by far the most interesting of findings have been a message in a bottle and a glamping tent.
After spending much of the Fall planning and writing the proposal, ordering materials, testing the safety equipment, and undergoing practicing trials, the SEALs began recovering debris in January. The Data Analysis group began defining categories of debris, creating data tables, and online forms. They then proceeded to classify the debris collected each sample day and weigh them by category. The Recovery team worked to perfect the methods for safely removing debris from underneath the rip rap and collected three geographically located quadrants to be able to determine the rate of debris replacement. Our communications team designed social media interfaces to disseminate our work products and reached out to our various stakeholders to coordinate field days. They also were in charge of writing the summary grant reports to ConEdison. Our Water Quality team began training in the measurement of Dissolved Oxygen in the sample site using the Modified Winkler Method. They also measured nutrients and other physical-chemical parameters. Finally, they began testing a drone with 3D deigned sampling devices to collect water samples from the Estuary.
View our publicly shared data here.
View our final project document here.
View an article of them in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle here.
Million thanks to our partners and sponsors: Billion Oyster Project, Rozalia Project, Con Edison, Earth Matter, Governors Island Trust, Hudson River Foundation, LES Ecology Center, & NYC Department of Education – New York Harbor School.
Greetings MBRP guardians, scholars, and friends,
I wanted to give you a brief update on what the MBRP is up to.
It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that 100% of our seniors have passed the summative CTE assessment for the Marine Biology Research Program. The assessment is called Natural Resources systems and is provided by the testing company NOCTI. Most students also scored high enough to earn 3 college credits. Our seniors are currently processing their plankton/plastic data from our excursion in the Fall. They have also deployed biodiversity monitoring contraptions in the Buttermilk Channel called “Mo Pots.”
Last month our 11th grade scholars completed a session of mock interviews coordinated by our wonderful PTA CTE Reps, Koko and Nan. Thank you to all the parents that got involved! The 11th grade scholars are processing their plankton/plastics data while maintaining their recirculating aquaculture systems. Next, they will be ordering new organisms, getting certified in lab and chemical safety, and performing another plankton/plastics field sampling excursion.
Our 10th grade scholars have been steadily working on their projects as well as courses in career and financial management. They are writing lab reports and preparing a presentation for the end of the month. After this, we will begin sampling the Estuary once again for physical-chemical parameters using various instruments including YSI handheld meters. COVID has forced us to make many curriculum changes, but I can assure you that your children are getting a world-class science education with us and I look forward to a strong finish to our school year.
Lastly, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many of my alumni coming to visit this year. We had Grace Carter, George Desjarlais, Dylan Hom Constable, Marcus Charles, Tyler Scott-Simpson, Cyd Bloomfield, Sunita Pearson, Jacqueline Obermayer, and Nicholas Ring stop by at the lab. We’ve had many alumni graduating from college as well as many others itching to visit after the long COVID hiatus. Much teacher care to all my alumni out there in the world – far and wide!
|10th grade MBRP Class testing out the Beta-Bottle technique to sample phytoplankton
You’re invited! On June 17, the New York Harbor School will be hosting its 10th Annual Marine Science Symposium through the digital cloud! Experience environmental science from our very own Marine Biology Research and Harbor SEALs scholars. Our honored keynote guests will be Dr. Kathleen Nolan, Chair of Biology at St. Francis College and Mr. Andrew Sommer, alumnus NYHS, class of 2015. Dr. Nolan and Mr. Sommer will share their personal and professional journey through the exciting world of scientific research. In addition, we will be honoring this year ’s NYC Terra ISEF Fair participant, Katherine Mumford, our post-secondary and industry partners, our MBRP symposium finalists, and our Manhattan Borough President, the Honorable Gale Brewer! Please take a moment to view our MBRP Class of 2021 websites.
The MBRP community would like to extend a warm thanks to our NYHS custodial staff, Mr. Benito Nunez, for assuming the oversight of the Marine Science lab for the complete year of the pandemic. Mr. Nunez has kept over 100 tilapia, various tropical freshwater and saltwater invertebrates, fish, reptiles, and amphibians alive and healthy! Benny – Thanks-a-million! The MBRP and the NYHS is tremendously fortunate to have you on the team!
Lastly, it’s with great grief that I inform you of the passing of marine restoration scientist and friend, Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, after an accident in her native Israel. We are most grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Perkol-Finkel over the last 10 years. Her legacy will live on as her company, Econcrete Co., continues to innovate and build biodiversity-attracting solutions into our coastal infrastructure. This symposium is dedicated to Dr. Perkol-Finkel.
If you’d like to participate as a judge during the fair, you may use this link.
Brought to you by our MBRP class of 2021 (and 2022) scholars.
On June 17, the Marine Biology Research Program hosted an historic 1st Virtual Marine Science Symposium. The program was packed with wonderful people from NYC’s marine science community. Guests and scholars learned about ecological restoration, how fish use tools, how COVID has affected school life, the economy, politics, etc. and even judged projects! We had two inspirational keynote speakers, Heather Eisenlord and alumnus Grace Carter, talk to us about their career and school journeys. Click here to view the results of our Awards Ceremony, look at some pictures of our class of 2020, and download some resources. Next, we recognized the dedication of those PAC members that have gone above and beyond the call of duty to support our scholars year-after-year! They were Dr. Kathleen Nolan, Dr. Neal Phillip, Dr. Sunil Bhaskaran, and our all-star mom, Nan Richardson!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the judges that dedicated their time to review videos and slideshows throughout the week following up to the event. Our scholars received invaluable feedback. These efforts contribute to the immeasurable effects communities have on their youngest of budding scientists. I cannot express my gratitude enough.
Passionate, creative, and kind – these are the three words that first come to mind when I think about the MBRP class of 2020. I will miss the passionate care for fish and marine life that always came up when something would go wrong with our systems and you were there to solve the problem. I will miss the challenging conversations we had on gun violence, “knowing thyself,” the broken school system, systemic racism, and, yes, research… I won’t miss pushing all of you to produce the best work you could produce! I will miss the teamwork you demonstrated often when it came time to support your fellow classmates. This is one of the things that kept me motivated to keep on pushing day in and day out, through the flus and the back aches. I recall seeing you teach each other and the younglings all the things you learned “on your own.” “Don’t ask Mauricio …” I’ll miss eating my PB&J sandwiches and my wife’s soups in front of you. I’ll miss the stories of cutting in the bathroom, mess hall, basketball court, and food truck. I’ll miss how some of you helped me track them down and saved me the phone call to guidance! I’ll miss the use of long nails to screw on tiny bolts on crab traps on the edge of the dock. I’ll miss the talks about politics, philosophy, and environmental justice. I’ll miss the hugs and hellos. I’ll miss your projects, your brownies and your holiday greetings. I’ll miss trying to not take pictures so as not to offend. I’ll miss seeing you use power tools and mixing cement. I’ll miss the movie and video suggestions. I’ll miss the sneaking up from behind to scare me. So, don’t ever forget that in my imperfect way, I always pushed you to be better than who you were yesterday and to be more mindful, thoughtful, and sensitive about this mysterious world around us and in us. You’ll remember our adventures in the MBRP, I “know.” You will always be my marine scientists! Best of Luck and Skill.
A huge thank s to our superstar symposium moderators: Marifer Sanchez-Gaspar, Sunita Pearson-Siegel, Randy Maharaj, Aelish Mullaney, Mimi Katz, and Heavenly Davis!
In these difficult times, we wish you peace and health.
Mauricio and the MBRP gang
Every graduating class has a personality of its own molded by each individual and the particulars of the school cohort. This year’s graduating class was characterized by many unique and strong personalities. What they all had in common though was honesty. I have never met so many young MBRP scholars in tune with themselves and the spirit of the times. I’m most grateful to this particular group for having embodied a crucial component of the program which is independence. This characteristic allowed them to pull through and manage the many aspects that running a high school research program requires. From maintaining our various recirculating lab systems, managing the 8th Annual Marine Science Symposium, competing in the New York City Science and Engineering & Urban Barcode Research Program fairs, completing professional maps using ArcGIS, working thousands of internship hours, earning dozens of college credits, and, most importantly, enhancing environmental awareness of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary, this group of graduating scholars will be making big waves in our world for the better in the years to come. To get to know our graduating MBRP Class of 2019 better, click here to view their ePortfolios.
On May 15 the New York Harbor School hosted its 8th Annual Marine Science Symposium. We had over 50 projects on display and over 30 volunteers from various industry & post-secondary institutions. Among the volunteer judges of the student projects was a team from Con Edison, which has generously supported Marine Biology Research at Harbor School for several years. This year’s theme was the Oroboros- a symbol of chaos and order. The inquiry process, which lies at the heart of research, involves the brave act of taming the chaos inherent in the unknown to try to extract some kernel of truth only to realize that new questions have sprung up and the process continues. Research requires the delicate balancing act between finality and infinity, end and renewal.
This year’s winner of the MBRP Trident Award of Excellence was bestowed to Marcus Charles (Class ’18). The Trident Award is given to a MBRP graduate 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. To view the Symposium Booklet with the complete list of volunteers, senior autobiographies, project titles, and Symposium results click here.
Our work is not possible without the ongoing support of industry and Post-secondary partners such as ConEdison, SUNY Stony Brook, Bronx Community College, BMCC, Urban Barcode Program, Roger Williams University, SUNY Albany, NYC Department of Education, New York Harbor Foundation, and Rozalia Project, to mention just a few. The opportunities they grant our scholars serve to enrich their education and help make them college and career ready.
An example of the benefits of the synergy between our partners and the MBRP is our yearly completion of long term research projects, many of which compete at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair with NYC’s brightest STEAM students. We had four competitors in this year’s regional fair with our MBRP research scholar, Cyd Bloomfield, placing third in the category of Earth & Environmental Science. Thank you to Dr. Elizabeth Burmester for mentoring many of this years projects. Go New York Harbor School Science!
In the field, our young Harbor SEALs scholars have been hard at work. Our Microbiology/Plankton and Phys-Chem teams have been monitoring the health of our Harbor waters. Our Biodiversity team has been preparing Econcrete tiles to deploy off of Governors Island for long-term monitoring. And our freshmen and sophomore scholars have been hard at work learning the ropes to take over leadership of their teams next school year.
Our alumni have been graduating from college and many continue to visit throughout the year. This past month I attended two graduation ceremonies. Our scholars report that college is not easy. Many struggle to adapt to the rigors of academic expectations and many are also the first to go to college in their families. I am pleased to also mention that colleges are starting to support our minority students by creating special associations that our students can go to for guidance. These associations also provide career assistance after graduation. Common themes I heard in our various conversations were 01) don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professors, 02) take advantage of office hours, 03) go the extra mile so your professors take you under their wing, 04) completing research in the MBRP opened doors for students, 05) don’t let impostor syndrome creep in, you’re not alone! Again, ask for help.
It has been an honor for me to have been awarded the NYC Big Apple Award for the 2018-19 school year. As a part of this recognition, I’ve had the privilege of participating in advisory meetings with Chancellor Carranza and his talented staff. I have also been a part of Academy for Teachers Master Classes that have enriched my intellectual growth. I’d like to end this update by dedicating it to my late mentor, Dr. Gregory Hodge, who passed in February 2019.
SAVE THE DATE: May 15 we will host our 8th Annual Marine Science Symposium at the New York Harbor School. We have the privilege to present as our guest speaker Ms. Rachael Miller, Director of the Rozalia Project and one of the pioneers in ocean plastics research.
The Fall Semester of the 2017-2018 school year has been another successful season for the Marine Biology Research Program (MBRP) and the Harbor SEALs in particular. We began the year with a recruitment campaign for the new cohort, led by our junior and senior leaders, which managed to attract and retain over 25 team members. For those of you unfamiliar with after school science clubs, this is an impressive feat. Next, our grant proposal to ConEdison was successfully submitted and rewarded, with the help of Matthew Haiken from the New York Harbor Foundation. Funds from this grant have allowed us to run our ambitious STEM program preparing the next generation of marine scientists. They also benefit the various animals we house in our Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) including Valrie and Amaya, Red-Eared Slider turtles and hundreds of tilapia. Next, we initiated a special collaboration with one of our professional partner organizations, SUNY Stony Brook, to monitor an underwater sand quarry in the Harbor originally dug out decades ago to provide sand for major construction projects around NYC. Our students plan on compiling and comparing spatial-temporal data to discern changes in sedimentation that may have occurred over time.
In November we celebrated our 8th annual Harbor SEALs-giving with scholars, alumni, colleagues, and friends. Next year we plan on hosting an alumni after-party in lower Manhattan.
December was a busy month during which we convened our Professional Advisory Committee, I took a Master Class on the history of Eugenics run by Dr. Allen Spiegel, Head of Einstein’s School of Medicine, and visited ConEdison’s Learning Center in Queens with our senior research scholars thanks to an invitation by our PAC member, Michael Kessler. Our scholars got a tour of their world-class learning facility and learned about ConEdison’s unique employment programs and benefits as part of their Work-Based Learning program at the New York Harbor School.
In January our senior scholars took their culminating Career and Technical Education assessments. All seniors took and passed the NOCTI Natural Resources Systems exam. Most scholars also qualified for three college credits through the assessment in Natural Resources Management. We also implemented for the first time the Precision Natural Resource Science assessment. This assessment will replace the NOCTI as part of the Career and Technical Education’s program re-certification process.
Also in January, five of our senior Marine Biology research scholars received notice that they have been accepted to compete in the prestigious New York City Science and Engineering Fair in March! This ranks them among the best science scholars in New York City. Our senior scholars have been busy with their Career and Financial Management course updating their Work-Skills Employabilty Profiles, updating ePortfolios and regular binder portfolios, creating LinkedIn accounts, and initiating an on-line writing exercise called the Self-Authoring Suite thanks to funding from NYC’s Department of Education Office of Teacher Recruitment and Quality. I have also had the privilege of meeting with NYC Chancellor of Schools, Ricardo Carranza, to discuss topics in school equity, bias, and diversity, among others, as part of the opportunities offered by the Big Apple Award.
Lastly, the Harbor SEALs monitoring team has accomplished the following objectives this season:
01) Installed heaters to an experimental tank to grow Red-Eared Slider turtles. We were also able to install new air and water pumps.
02) Our Biodiversity team has been hard at work planning the design of a long-term experiment to test for the biodiversity of marine invertebrates using Econcrete tiles in the Hudson River. We are in the process of purchasing the materials and plan on beginning the mixing of Econcrete cement in the coming weeks.
03) Our Physical-Chemical team has also been hard at work calibrating and maintaining their instruments in order to start sampling the Hudson River in February. They have been adding pH probes and conductivity probes to the machines and calibrating them in order to ensure precise and accurate measurements.
04) Our Microbiology team has been training the younglings to sample for E. faecalis and the relative concentrations of plastic and plankton in the Harbor.
05) Our Data Management team has been producing data tables and data flow strategies for our Team’s data collection efforts.
06) Our whole team has gone out for mock sampling events twice in the Fall semester. We plan on starting our field sampling this month.
A heartfelt thank you to all our colleagues, family, friends, post-secondary, and industry partners for your continued support! Happy Lunar New Year!
Go New York Harbor School Science!
Greetings MBRP partners, alumni, scholars, and friends. Embarking on our 8th year of operation we “push off the dock” with the momentum of our achievements of the past year (see below). This year our Harbor SEALs Citizen Scientists are working with the Billion Oyster Project to monitor the ecological conditions off of Pier 101, Governors Island. Our MBRP senior scholars have been hard at work on their mapping curriculum, research projects, and career and financial management projects. Take a look at this year’s gorgeous senior web site portfolios. Our 11th grade MBRP scholars have also started their mapping curriculum and their research plans. Next, over the summer our scholars read the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and completed a creative project based on their reading. Check out 11th grade research scholar Tyler Simpson’s compelling video. Our 10th grade MBRP scholars have just completed the first unit entitled: Introduction to Scientific Methods. They have also completed their first MBRP lab reports. Way to go 10th grade researchers! When you get a chance, glance through some of last year’s culminating research projects. Lastly, we have two upcoming major events: 01) join us for our 7th annual SEALs-Giving dinner on November 21st, 2018 between 3:30 and 5:30 at the NYHS Mess Hall; 02) join us for our 7th annual Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting on December 5th (details TBA). We hope to see you soon. Gobble, gobble!
2017 – 2018 MBRP Achievements:
- NYCSEF : Two 2nd place winners, a 3rd place winner, & 6 scholars competed in total for an all time Program high,
- CIVITAS: NY Harbor SEALs Harlem River restoration Phase 02 project completed,
- NYHS Marine Science Symposium : We celebrated our 7th Annual Symposium on May 16th (253 projects completed to-date),
- NOCTI: 99% pass rate for 7 years (62 to-date),
- GIS SPACE Certification: Three of three students took and passed Digital Quest’s Geographic Information Systems assessment (5 have passed to-date; first HS students to pass in NYS),
- College credits: 92 credits awarded to MBRP scholars last year alone!!! (310 awarded to-date; $54,648 SAVED!!!),
- CTE Endorsements: 12 stamps awarded last year (52 to-date is highest in school),
- Internships: Successfully paid out 1638.25 hours to over 15 interns which amount s to roughly USD $18,000.00,
- Nailea Rodriguez: Record hours worked in internship (288.5),
- Nicholas Ring: National Chemical Honor Society,
- Marcus Charles: Winner of the MBRP TRIDENT Award.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.