By Yvette Brown
City Parks Foundation has come up with an innovative program that inspires teenagers to excel as environmental scientists, media artists and stewards of New York City’s natural resources. This program is called “Green Girls.”
On Friday, 20 of IS 204 Oliver W. Holmes students, who are involved in the “Green Girls” program, learned how to test samples from various water sources throughout NYC with the help of three high school interns. Students tested samples to assess dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, coliform bacteria and more and the results helped with their discussion of water quality and health within NYC.
“The ‘Green Girls’ worked to understand water pollution in their community. Students learned about these issues by simulating point source and non-point pollution using an EnviroScape, which is an interactive large scale watershed model,” said Kaari Casey, lead educator for the “Green Girls” program. “After using the model, students tested water from various water sources in the Long Island City community. Water samples were taken from Hallet’s Cove, Newtown Creek and tap water from IS 204.”
“Green Girls” is an after school program for middle school girls that meets weekly from October through May. They learn about the City’s natural and cultural resources through classroom sessions, guest speakers, field trips and service projects that examine different science subjects including environmental education, ecology, biology, geology, zoology and botany. This allows the girls to explore their personal potential, gain leadership and learn about career opportunities within the science field.
“After testing for nitrates, phosphates, coliform bacteria and pH, students concluded that the water in Newtown Creek was the most polluted. It tested high for levels of nitrates and phosphates, and tested positive for the presence of Coliform bacteria, which is indicative of the presence of raw sewage,” said Casey. “The sample from Hallet’s Cove showed the presence of nitrates and phosphates, but tested negative for Coliform, and the tap water sample showed little to no nitrates, little to no phosphates and no presence of Coliform. These findings will help the ‘Green Girls’ develop an understanding of the importance of water quality and work towards preserving the health of NYC waterways.”
“This fall the program has focused on water usage and health in the city in particular. They’ve had a visit fromNYCH20, cleaned up and planted bulbs in the garden at the school, and studied green spaces in the area,” said Kate Nemetz, spokesperson for City Parks Foundation. “Going forward, the ‘Green Girls’ will build on Friday’s lesson with a trip to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on Dec. 11, where they’ll learn about the NYC watershed system. They will experience how water travels from faucet to waterway and how New Yorkers’ lives impact the natural world. In the new year, the girls will work on developing a plan to get their local community engaged in watershed protection.”
Registration is still open with only a handful of spots available. During the summer months, the “Green Girls” will have an intensive, based at IS 204, where the “Green Girls” get the chance to travel to all five boroughs to study the urban forests of NYC. They will be able to bird watch, go canoeing, conduct experiments or conduct citizen science projects, all while developing new relationships and building an understanding for the natural ecosystems in this densely packed city. Applications for the summer will be available in the spring.
For more information regarding “Green Girls,” visit cityparksfoundation.org/education/green-girls/
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext.128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @eveywrites.