Floating field trip catches students’ interest

By on July 29, 2012

Brockport AP Biology student Jake Parsons (left) works with BOCES 2 student Jason Pette at the water testing station. Provided photoThirty-three middle and high school students from BOCES 2 spent a day aboard the Harbor Town Belle conducting scientific research on the ecosystems of the Genesee River and Lake Ontario.

Students in Mackenzie Marr’s classroom from the Alternative High School, Danielle Manetta and Stacie Webster’s classes from the Therapeutic Day Program and Kristie Holt’s 12:1:1 class at Spencerport High School rotated through five learning stations conducting scientific research together with BOCES 2 Instructional Specialist Kathy Hoppe; AP Biology teacher Rosemary Caitlin from Brockport High School; six Brockport High School AP Biology student volunteers; BOCES 2 teacher aides; and student behavorial assistants.

“We asked students to do real world science that is minds-on and hands-on and occurs in the actual location that they are studying,” said Hoppe. “On this floating field trip the students learned a great deal about the environment of Lake Ontario and the Genesee River, and about the human impact on ecosystems.”

The stations consisted of: water testing for pH, nitrate, phosphate, coliform and dissolved oxygen; collecting a dredge sample; identifying plankton using a microscope; learning about navigation, maps, and lake history; using a fish finder and recording temperature depth. Prior to the lake and river experiments the students studied pond life to compare the different ecosystems. They will also share their findings with other student scientists who will participate in the floating field trip.

“What I like best are the stations, fishing with the fish finder and the boat,” said BOCES 2 student Demitri Dipropero.

For 10 years students have been learning about the floating field trip created by Brockport teachers Caitlin and Marian Klick (retired). For three years BOCES 2 students have participated in the field trip and because of Hoppe, Caitlin and other district science teachers the trip is now possible for even more students.

“I think that there is a passion in all of us to explore the unknown,” said Caitlin. “When students are given an opportunity to go aboard a boat to study a river’s ecosystem versus a lake’s ecosystem, it gives them a sense of accomplishment that they were a real scientific researcher for one day.” Caitlin’s AP Biology students served as instructors at each station. They completed the ecosystem research for their AP Biology coursework in October and then volunteered for the BOCES 2 field trip to share their scientific knowledge with students.

“I really like being out on this boat,” said BOCES 2 student Nassir Addison, without ever taking his eyes off the eyepiece of the microscope, as he looked at plankton from the Genesee River.