NYC Students Get Up Close with Fish, Bugs, Nature in CNY Science Program

Aug 14, 2015

Students from Brooklyn take part in a partnership with SUNY ESF to learn about science first hand.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  A group of students from New York City is spending the week enjoying Central New York’s slower pace and environment.  The students are part of a program that might just launch them into science careers.

The 19 rising juniors from Brooklyn probably don’t often go to a classroom that looks like the one here on Onondaga Lake. They took part in a research project to catalog what kind of fish were caught in a big net.  

The hands-on activities included identifying fish species that were netted in Onondaga Lake, in addition to learning aspects of fish evolution and behavior.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

 They learned about the different species, adaptations, and the eco-system, as well as the lake’s recovery.  Ariana Hancock and Dylan John aren’t exactly used to picking up live fish to help identify them.

“I got to hold the fish and it felt so weird.  I’m used to holding fish when it’s cooked, but this was a fresh fish, like it’s still living.  It was nice to have this sort of life in my hand,” said Dylan.

“It was really fun, something very different,” added Ariana.  “I’m used to them being on my plate and me not touching them, but it’s still very cool.”

The students are part of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity program…they chose to take part and do activities starting in 9th grade.  Here SUNY E-S-F students helped them through a variety of activities and environments, as part of the ESF SCIENCE program: Summer Camps Investigating Ecology in Neighborhood and City Environments.  Training Coordinator Brandon Murphy and the college students are sharing their passion.

"We’re hoping some of that enthusiasm for the environment they pick up on.  People’s perception of science tends to be more like biology or chemistry; they don’t know sort of the nuance, things like ecology and environmental engineering.”

The Shores of Onondaga Lake served as classroom for one day. Students also went to Green Lakes, city parks and even identified insects around the SUNY ESF campus
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

Ariana and Dylan are open to the new experiences and the learnings

“The stream ecology, we definitely studied the different microorganisms and macro-organisms.  In Furnace (creek) it’s so cool because you get really up close with the animals and it’s not something we can do back home, said Ariana” 

“What resonated with me was probably environmental engineering because I found it so interesting that so much can go into something so little,” added Dylan.  “In the city we don’t think about the environment much, but it’s such a big part of life.”

Many of the students are from immigrant families, or from single parent and low income homes…and more than four out of five will be the first member of their family to attend college.