Day in the Life of the Hudson River

This Thursday, students in our 1-2 and 8th grade classes spent the day on the Hudson River as a part of the annual A Day In The Life of the Hudson event. Our 8th graders led our 1-2s through various scientific data collecting stations focused on aquatic life, current speed, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen. Art teacher Claire Sherwood enriched our studies with an art lesson in realistic drawing of fish, and 1-2 teacher Suzi Miranda shared the fascinating history of the river by reading Hudson Talbott’s River of Dreams. Parker parent Alene Onion also shared her talents, enriching our day with song and giving our students the opportunity to work with a real-life ecologist. Combining science, art, and history in this interdisciplinary experience is exactly what a progressive education filled with purposeful action is all about. 
1-2 students rotated through various learning stations on the river bank while our 8th graders took on the role of science teachers. Leading up to the event science teacher, John Sherry worked with them to master one of the four water testing stations. The younger students rotated through the stations and learned about aquatic life, current speed, water clarity and dissolved oxygen. Each group was accompanied by a teacher and parent volunteers, who we were thrilled to have back in action for this first field trip of the year.
The fish identification station always elicits shrieks from both enthusiastic and squeamish students alike. There are always a few students who simply cannot pass up the experience to get up close and personal with their learning. This year, Parker 8th grader Ife was excited to lead students through this station, at one point exclaiming, “This is just so awesome. I may have to work with fish when I grow up!”
Another two 8th graders lead younger students through a test to measure the dissolved oxygen in the water. Students have the opportunity to hone their skills of data collection and scientific observation by analyzing water samples collected from the Hudson. This year, Parker 8th grader Avery kept younger students captivated with her explanation of how oxygen molecules put on their “rain coats” to protect them from pollutants in the water.
The station measuring current speed is always a perennial favorite. This year, Parker 8th graders named and decorated oranges with faces, much to the delight of our 1-2’s. Our younger students were encouraged to cheer as loudly as possible as an orange was thrown in the water, and then the whole group ran along with the orange to measure its rate of travel downstream.
At the final station, our 8th graders taught the 1-2s about turbidity, or water clarity. Using a large tube filled with water, Parker 8th grader Brooke invited each student to peer down into it and determine whether or not they could see a black and white discus at the bottom. At first, none of our 1-2s could see the disk. However, after slowly lowering the water level in the tube, the 1-2s were excited to see the disk eventually become visible. Parker 8th grader Shahd explained the importance of measuring turbidity as an indicator of water quality. 
Participating in A Day in the Life of the Hudson gives students the tools to act as knowledgeable stewards of our natural resources. The scientific work Parker students do here ignites a love for the environment. Students become advocates for clean water from an early age as they see the importance of their own contributions to the state-wide study. The data they collected will be entered on to a DEC website, and it will be possible for them to compare it to other locations data from the day. Place-based learning, active, interdisciplinary, applied to the real world, and fun! It was a wonderful morning.