On June 24, 2018, Bronx River Alliance education staff traveled to Governor’s Island to visit The Harbor School, where Columbia Teacher’s College Citizen Scientist program students presented their final projects after a month-long intensive water quality study of New York City waterways. With a focus on experiential learning, the students had the opportunity of going into the Bronx River at the New York Botanical Garden, collecting information through testing various living (like macroinvertebrates) and chemical parameters. They learned how human actions affects the ecosystem as a whole and how they can help minimize their impacts. These experiences helped them choose a topic of their interest that would later be presented to their family and friends.
Students spoke about their activities such picking up trash from the Bronx River, the importance of clean water, and their roles as students towards the ecosystem. Entering 10th grader, Joseph, presented with a video he created, titled Water for the Future and wrote a story titled "Ollie the Ocean Oyster". The video depicted students wading within the Bronx River where they found and documented cigarette butts, toys, glass bottles, and plastic. Through this action he says “I am giving back to nature. We need to protect the environment the same way it protects us.” He believes everyone can become a Citizen Scientist because everything we do affects nature, which then affects everyone as a whole.
Three other students decided to write a letter to local politicians and a school principal. Another program participant, Anthony, wrote a letter explaining how CSOs dump waste to the river, resulting in intestinal bacteria in the water. Another student explained the effects of not having recycling bins in his educational institution; he knew the school doesn’t have the funds, so filled out a grant application for funding. George says “I want to find a way for students to participate in recycling through a reward system,” in a way to motivate his peers.
We thank Columbia Teachers College Citizen Science Program for allowing the Bronx River Alliance to be a part of this lifelong lesson of environmental conservation.