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BOP Symposium: All Smiles and Salty Folk

Billion Oyster Projects Curriculum and Community Enterprise for Restoration Science (BOP CCE-RS) held the project’s quarterly meeting in New York City on June 17th and 18th. This gathering was followed by the inaugural BOP STEM Symposium, hosted at Governors Island on Friday, June 19th. The BOP STEM Symposium gave project partners an opportunity to, in some cases for the first time, meet some of the middle school students and teachers who will be participating in the BOP CCE-RS program this coming school year. Middle School students from multiple schools in the city were also able to see the process of growing oysters in the lab and then releasing them onto reefs in the harbor (cleverly called “BOP’s Life Stages”), which Billion Oyster Project staff and students at the Harbor School on Governors Island incorporate as part of this large restoration and education effort. This event was filled with smiles from students and staff alike (highlights of the event are available on the IAN-UMCES blog.)

Andrew Summer pictured with his senior research project (Credit: Dylan Taillie)

Andrew Summer pictured with his senior research project (Credit: Dylan Taillie)

Presentations set up at the Admiral’s House ranged from homemade microscopes by the River Project personnel, to final research projects conducted by New York Harbor School Seniors and there were also many awesome oyster and environmental restoration projects for middle schoolers to check out. One example was the work of Andrew Summer, of the Harbor School, who investigated invertebrate growth on porcelain tiles for his final Senior project, in order to determine whether NYC’s 800,000 soon-to-be discarded toilets could potentially be a suitable hard substrate for oysters and other invertebrates to settle on. The UMCES crew set up two computers for teachers and students to create conceptual diagrams comparing an unhealthy NY Harbor without a robust oyster population to a healthy Harbor filled with oysters. Throughout the open house event, students and teachers enjoyed hot dogs and oysters, as well as a scenic view of New York Harbor, Brooklyn, and downtown NYC from the shores of Governors Island.

Students gather to watch Superhero Clubhouse's music entitled ‘Salty Folk’

Students gather to watch Superhero Clubhouse’s music entitled ‘Salty Folk’

To conclude a great day of collaboration and hard work realized, an environmentally-conscious musical group, called Superhero Clubhouse, performed an original piece entitled ‘Salty Folk’ about a group of Oyster friends who band together to clean NY Harbor through their filtration efforts once and for all. Students were entranced by the giggly, fun musical which took them on a trip through time starting with Henry Hudson first sailing into New York Harbor, almost crashing his ship on the massive oyster reefs, and continuing through the 1950’s, when environmental degradation was at its peak. Finally, a small present-day oyster, who passionately supported the ‘ludicrous’ idea of the Harbor’s capacity to be clean once again, successfully convinced all of her pessimistic oyster friends that the Harbor could be clean and healthy once again, with the help of scientists and their restoration efforts!

Sam Janis organizes students prior to the ‘Salty Folk’ musical performed on Friday afternoon.

Sam Janis organizes students prior to the ‘Salty Folk’ musical performed on Friday afternoon.

The open house, along with the tour of the Billion Oyster Project Life Stages, lunch along the waterfront, and the oyster musical, made for a magical day out on Governors Island. With plans to expand each year, BOP’s STEM Symposium will be an annual opportunity for students, teachers, project managers, and citizen scientists alike to celebrate together and enjoy the fruits of their labor and community enterprise, while also learning more about what is going on in the oyster world.

 

A view of the ‘Reef building’ station, Stage 5 of the BOP’s life cycle tour.

A view of the ‘Reef building’ station, Stage 5 of the BOP’s life cycle tour.

Posted 11/20/15 at 2:46 AM