Trash Talk and Hot Air

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James Flynn (right top) and Ted “The Man” Gilman (left top) from the Greenwich Audubon Society explain the different invertebrates the students will encounter in the river. 

A week and a half ago, the sophomore STEM class was knee-deep in data collection. Literally. We were all standing in the middle of the Mianus river looking for invertebrates to help measure the health of the Mianus River watershed area. The students had this opportunity to work with the Greenwich Audubon Society and contribute to the data records that the Audubon has been tracking over the years. This past week they have been working full tilt on a series of environmental issues projects where they are tracking small scale models of major global issues. Oceanic Garbage Patches, global climate change with polar ice melting, oil spills, and eutrophication to name a few.

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Testing the effects of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on ice melting. measuring temperature, relative humidity, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Their math content has been focused on statistical analysis of data set and determining trends in the patterns of data using the mathematical functions the patterns look like. The students are in the midst of collecting the data to interpret those trends and come up with their interpretations of that data. The project set up has been challenging as students and their teachers have been scrambling to find the materials to put everything together.  We have plastics sitting in sea water, algae blooming in a pond water tank, oils spills in several containers, planter boxes and pots with fertilizers and plants set up to measure water runoff, and a sealed chamber with carbon dioxide periodically pumped in to measure ice melt rates. We are using a variety of probes that can measure several different ion concentrations in different substances, dissolved oxygen, soil moisture, atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide, pH, turbidity and even this temperature thing. The students have been evaluating this data in several setups and looking at their impacts. Hopefully they can draw some good conclusions, suggest further areas of research, or maybe even hint at solutions. Who knows? Its just exciting to see them working so hard on these ideas, and I am looking forward to them to be able to present their results to not only their junior peers who conducted similar research the year before, but also get feedback from professionals, that can help to direct them to refine their projects. I’m just hoping the ocean acidification project doesn’t accidentally delete the data from their seven day long test. I’m pretty sure they learned their lesson after a three day control test data set went missing. Fingers crossed!

 

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