ThINK Discovery Science Research students from Smithtown High School East, coordinated by Ms. Maria Zeitlin, recently returned to conduct citizen science along the Nissequogue River.
Part of a multi-school collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Central Pine Barren Commission, and the NYS DEC, this annual STEM activity takes a longitudinal look at the health of our local estuary.
East students were divided into 4 groups and worked in teams to collect data. One group used a seine net to catch and release fish, crabs, and any organisms present in the water. Another group recorded physical measurements such as tidal movement, wind speed, and air and water temperatures. A site description was done by students who recorded GPS location values and collected a core sample of sand to be later analyzed at BNL for microplastics. Finally, a group of students conducted a chemical analysis for salinity, cloudiness, and contaminants such as nitrates and phosphates.
Dylen Shen, a junior in the program, said "It was an interesting and unique experience that changed my view of the natural world and it has sparked my interest in ecology and the role we play in the natural world around us."
According to Dr. Stephanie O'Brien, SCSD science director," Student learning in real life scenarios, about the geographic area they live in, doesn't get more authentic than this. Conversations between students. compiled with laughs and smiling faces, help to create a culture that has benefits that extend well beyond the school walls."