On Friday, October 7th, three teachers Amy Stemkoski, Science, Josephine Russo, 8th Grade, and Jeannine Davis, Horticulture and Gardening, took part in a training session on Governor’s Island with the Billion Oyster Project (BOP). The Billion Oyster Project collaboration was initiated by our school in an effort to support shellfish propagation by raising oysters to replenish shellfish beds and to utilize oysters’ natural ability to clean the harbor, while providing our students with increased opportunities for hands-on fieldwork.
Dr. Christine Bleecker, the coordinator of the new Ecosystems of Long Island Pilot Program in the 8th grade, explains how the collaboration with BOP fits perfectly within the crucible of the eighth grade Waldorf geography and history curricula objectives.
“During this year, students grapple with metamorphoses, polarities and intensifications, which take place in geographical phenomena. They are introduced to typical landscapes of the area with an examination of the diversity of animal and plant life, and the impact of the European arrival on nature. Additionally, students experience the interplay between causality and purposeful human actions, often observed throughout the Industrial Revolution. The emphasis is on the experience of the individual in a rapidly changing world. According to historical accounts chronicled by BOP, when Henry Hudson entered New York Harbor in 1609, the pristine estuary, with oysters at the base, hosted thousands of associated species and was one the most biologically productive, diverse, and dynamic environments on the planet. By 1906, the oysters were gone and the Harbor was toxic and nearly lifeless.
What is particularly interesting about this project is that we discussed our intent to collaborate with BOP with the Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay, where we had taken several trips this year with the 8th grade. They too were eager to get involved, and the three teachers were joined at the training by Cameron Jenness, Education Director at the Waterfront Center.”
Together, the four educators learned how to build and install oyster reefs and how to work with students to collect important data. The students of the Waldorf School of Garden City, in collaboration with the Waterfront Center, will launch the oysters in two weeks. After conducting at least six months of field data collection, observations and inferences, students will share their results with the wider BOP community of scientists, STEM professionals, and volunteers. Ultimately, the goal will be to recruit the help of homeowners who live on the shoreline of Oyster Bay to join in their efforts.
This exciting endeavor will allow students to partake in real world science and witness the result of their efforts on Long Island. We look forward to updates on their progress. Visit the Waldorf Living Laboratory News Blog for weekly updates about the 8th grade’s continuing educational activities