Port Jefferson Middle School students in Janelle Bellotti sixth-grade science class had a hands-on opportunity to learn about Long Island’s watershed and non-point source pollution when Tracy Marcus, a marine youth education specialist from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, visited them.
Funded by Port Jefferson Village as part of the storm water management program, the goal was to teach the class about the local watershed, what a storm drain is and its importance, and how water pollution affects local marine life. The students discovered ways to help prevent pollution from entering the local watershed by building a small model of a storm drain to demonstrate where water goes during a rainstorm, creating pollution using water and food coloring. They then executed how the water enters the drain and discussed the impact of it along with ways to prevent it.
The students then took this information and did some stormwater detective work, investigating and solving the mystery of why a fish kill happened. They learned that fish kills occur in natural populations because of disease, poor water quality or toxins and when they tested a water sample they discovered it was a high level of nitrates, which were found to be at 50 ppm (parts per million).
In addition to gaining the ability to look at a problem posed to them, investigate it and collect evidence to formulate their conclusion, “the students really enjoyed this program and had a lot of fun,” Bellotti said.
Photo caption: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Tracy Marcus worked with students at Port Jefferson Middle School.
Photo courtesy of the Port Jefferson School District