3 Young, Citizen Scientists work with the EKP

On Saturday afternoon, May 21st, I had the pleasure of helping 3 citizen-scientists with their latest science project of testing the water on Newtown Creek. They are Isabel Tribe, Lily Rudd and Indie Jacobs who attend the Salk School of Science in Manhattan. Their idea was to collect waters samples from multiple locations along the creek the same morning and to test them in the lab. The Chair of the School of Visual Arts BFA Fine Arts, Suzanne Anker was generous to provide the Bio-Lab as the setting.

This was no easy task for the young scientists, as they had to travel to the waters edge to fill recycled plastic bottles of the creek water at low tide on the same morning. The locations were at the North Brooklyn Boat Club, the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, Masbeth Ave. and English Kills. I volunteered to collect for them at English Kills due to the difficulty of gaining access.

This was no easy task for the young scientists, as they had to travel to the waters edge to fill recycled plastic bottles of the creek water at low tide on the same morning. The locations were at the North Brooklyn Boat Club, the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, Masbeth Ave. and English Kills. I volunteered to collect for them at English Kills due to the difficulty of gaining access.

Each sample (two per location) was tested for pH and total Alkalinity, Total Hardness, Nitrate/Nitrite Nitrogen, Iron, Copper, Free Chlorine and Total Chlorine. While the test levels yielded very similar results (except in the English Kills “spring” sample) the whole effort was not a waste. One has to take into account that it was done at the ebb of lowest tide and 12 hours after a slight rainfall.

Each sample (two per location) was tested for pH and total Alkalinity, Total Hardness, Nitrate/Nitrite Nitrogen, Iron, Copper, Free Chlorine and Total Chlorine. While the test levels yielded very similar results (except in the English Kills “spring” sample) the whole effort was not a waste. One has to take into account that it was done at the ebb of lowest tide and 12 hours after a slight rainfall.

Any kind of science experiment will not immediately reveal results that are anticipated. In fact, even the 2010 study of water in Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills, completed by Dr, Durand and LaGuardia Community College students, were over a period of several months, with testing every few days.

Any kind of science experiment will not immediately reveal results that are anticipated. In fact, even the 2010 study of water in Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills, completed by Dr, Durand and LaGuardia Community College students, were over a period of several months, with testing every few days.

What I explained to Isabel, Lily and Indie was of more importance is their methodology of collecting the samples. As far as I know it was the first such water tests that were (near) simultaneous of multiple site collection over the length of the creek! The 2010 Newtown Creek study was done the same location, Dutch Kills. Our young scientists are creating a model for more rigorous testing of Newtown Creek water (testing with time, location, distance in unison). I hope that this novel idea will be used in the future.

What I explained to Isabel, Lily and Indie was of more importance is their methodology of collecting the samples. As far as I know it was the first such water tests that were (near) simultaneous of multiple site collection over the length of the creek! The 2010 Newtown Creek study was done the same location, Dutch Kills. Our young scientists are creating a model for more rigorous testing of Newtown Creek water (testing with time, location, distance in unison). I hope that this novel idea will be used in the future.

all photos courtesy of Mark Tribe (2016).