A recent article in the Finger Lakes Times featured the Finger Lakes Institute’s pilot project monitoring regional streams, made possible by a grant from Time Warner Cable.
“You could liken the streams that flow into the Finger Lakes to the arteries that keep the human body alive and well. If those streams are healthy, the bodies of water that comprise the Finger Lakes are more likely to be healthy,” the article starts. “The well-being of the Finger Lakes is what the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is all about.”
The complete article follows.
Finger Lakes Times
LIFE LINES TO THE LAKES: Finger Lakes Institute turns attention to stream health
$60K grant from Time Warner Cable will fund two-year pilot project
Paulette Likoudis • January 26, 2010
GENEVA – You could liken the streams that flow into the Finger Lakes to the arteries that keep the human body alive and well.
If those streams are healthy, the bodies of water that comprise the Finger Lakes are more likely to be healthy.
The well-being of the Finger Lakes is what the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is all about. The institute’s Science on Seneca program has already trained teachers who have taken students out on Seneca Lake aboard The William Scandling, a 65-foot research vessel, to perform water quality, geological, meteorological, biological and chemical studies.
Now, thanks to a $60,000 grant from Time Warner Cable, that research will broaden to include a two-year pilot project allowing science teachers and students to assess streams in Finger Lakes watershed areas while learning field science skills.
“We are extremely grateful that Time Warner provided the necessary financial support so we could expand on our teacher-led and research-guided monitoring efforts,” said Sheila Myers, education outreach coordinator for the Institute.
The grant will ultimately involve 40 schools in central and western New York, with up to 2,000 students getting hands-on experience, Myers said.
“The funding of this program in the Finger Lakes region is integral to not only our understanding of the ecological health of our streams, but also to our ability to properly train teachers to educate the future stream monitors, [the] environmentally aware citizens of tomorrow,” said Susan Cushman, assistant professor of biology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Bruce Gilman, conservation professor at Finger Lakes Community College and a cooperating environmental educator with the Institute, will join Cushman to train teachers so they and their students can begin stream studies this spring.
Gilman is excited to be involved.
“The educational value of stream monitoring in the Finger Lakes will be greatly enhanced in the high school curriculum by the Institute’s collaborative efforts to train local science teachers, assist them in sampling local waters and manage a database of their results. I am a strong advocate of experiential learning, and this will be a wonderful opportunity to engage high school students in active outdoor inquiry,” Gilman said.
The pilot regional stream monitoring program will include development of a stream monitoring protocol and curriculum guide, a training program for pilot schools and an online database where teachers can input and access their findings.
Some area teachers have taken students to study streams before, but having a protocol for recording information will ensure consistency and a way to accurately compare changes in a stream’s history.
Water temperature, overall pH, dissolved oxygen content and the presence or lack of certain insects will be among the bio-indicator information gathered at streams. Chemicals and pesticides will not be included in the search list.
Myers likens insects living near streams to “the canary in the coal mine.” Among insects that will be counted but left in their environments are May flies, stone flies and dragon flies.
Students and teachers will focus on streams that run year round and are publicly accessible.
Schools and organizations signed up for the program so far are: Avon High School, Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES in Auburn, Geneseo Middle School, the Geneva school district, Moravia Middle School, Naples Junior/Senior High School, Pittsford-Mendon High School, Sodus Middle School, Trumansburg Middle School, Watkins Glen Middle School and Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.
“This environmental project will help foster partnerships between students, schools, colleges and the community to allow students not only to see the environment, but to understand it and create a cleaner, safer place to live,” said Sharon Bassage, coordinator of science programs for Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.
It is expected that 12 more schools will join by year’s end. Stream monitoring results should be available to the public by next fall.
“The [program] is the next phase of Time Warner Cable’s new philanthropic focus called Connect a Million Minds. This program will give students … a unique, hands-on learning experience, inspiring them to build skills in science, technology, engineering and math to become the problem solvers of tomorrow,” said Terence Rafferty, regional vice president of operations for Time Warner.
For more information, contact Sheila Myers at the Finger Lakes Institute, 601 S. Main St., Geneva, call 781-4380 or visit http://fli.hws.edu.