On October 13, our fourth graders set out to participate in the 20th annual “A Day in the Life of the Hudson,” joining over 5,000 students and scientists at 90 sites up and down the Hudson River, from Troy Dam to New York Harbor, collectively exploring and gathering data from the river, in real time.
“A Day in the Life of the Hudson,” which is coordinated by The Hudson River Estuary Program of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is an opportunity for environmental education centers to partner with young New Yorkers to educate them on the this historic and complex estuary system, situated right in our backyard. This was an important moment for students to engage in hands-on science, building data and mathematical literacy.
St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s was assigned a special site on the river in Yonkers, right across from the expansive Palisade Cliffs. They sat down to hear about this specific area's habitat and ecosystem in the Center for the Urban River at Beczak, an alliance of the Sarah Lawrence College and the Beczak Environmental Education Center. Students then set out to different stations evaluating and measuring water chemistry and water quality, evaluating the salinity, pH, and turbidity, the site conditions, such as the air temperature and wind speed, which was done utilizing the Beaufort Wind Scale, and finally, catching and identifying aquatic species collected by seining the river.
Seining, a type of fishing in which a large net is used to catch fish, was a particular highlight of this hands-on experience. Partnered with educators and faculty chaperones, students donned waders to immerse themselves in the river with their seine nets. Some of the species they were able to identify from their prior studies were Atlantic Silversides, Flounder, Blue Crab, Striped Bass, White Perch, Mummichog, and Comb Jellyfish.
After the trip, students shared their findings with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. This was a special and unique experience for our young scientists, made all the more better by the fact that access to this wonderful science experience could take place outside, in our own wonderful city.