For the past ten years, elementary and high school students from all over Long Island have visited different local waterways simultaneously on a Friday in late October for the “Day in the Life” citizen science data gathering project organized by Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Central Pine Barrens Commission and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
On Oct. 21 of this year, students from Riverhead Middle School, Shoreham-Wading River and Brentwood High Schools gathered at the crescent beach in Indian Island State Park in Riverhead for the annual collection of data ranging from bathymetry to sediment sampling, water chemistry and a survey of the types of life found in the bay. Mel Morris, the manager of special projects at BNL who started the program ten years ago, was on hand watching the students work.
“We’re now doing 11 water bodies, with 40 schools,” he said. “We provide the equipment and training, and we hope the data we collect will be used by planners and environmental organizations.
The kids, many of them AP students with a keen interest in environmental science, took the work very seriously as they meticulously took measurements and documented their work.
“They’ll learn more in a day doing this than in a week in the classroom,” said Brentwood High School Marine Science teacher Greg Sikorsky.