Citizen Science Promotes Collaboration for East Researchers

Citizen Science Promotes Collaboration for East Researchers photo

High School East science research students, under the direction of Smithtown East science research coordinator Maria Zeitlin, participated in a hands-on collaborative ecosystem-monitoring project at Short Beach on Oct. 6.

The “Day in the Life of the Nissequogue River” project is designed to celebrate the river and estuary ecosystems and educate participants on the uniqueness of Long Island’s NY State-designated Wild and Scenic rivers. More than a dozen different school districts participated in the annual study sponsored by the Central Pine Barrens Commission, Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Water Authority. 

On a single day, environmental education partners and students all along the river simultaneously collected scientific information, analyzed it and shared it to portray the status of the river and estuary ecosystem.

According to Ms. Zeitlin, Short Beach was selected for its particular relevance to East students as citizen science is inspired when students look into their own backyards. “Students use hands-on field techniques to perform scientific data collection to assess the health of this part of the Nissequogue River,” she said. “They sample fish populations using seine nets, perform chemical analysis of water samples including phosphate, nitrate and oxygen levels. They inventory site descriptions by drawing pictures and using photography. Students examine the physical attributes of the site with data collection relating to wind speed and direction, current flow, as well as sedimentation and turbidity of the water.” Upon return to school, all data is uploaded to a central website for comparison and analysis.