William Floyd High School science research students recently participated in “A Day in the Life of the Forge River,” a citizen science project which allows high school students to partner with scientists from Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), the Pine Barrens Commission, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center and other local high schools for the collection and analysis of samples collected at different locations along the Forge River.
For this project, students collected water quality data, soil quality data and organisms for DNA Barcoding at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center, and sediment and spider samples which will be analyzed using the beams at BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source II.
“This event brings students closer together and gives them the opportunity to evaluate a riverine environment right in their own community,” said Victoria Hernandez, science research teacher, William Floyd High School, who co-organized the school’s participation along with fellow science teacher, Anya Swiss.
The Forge River is a shallow, tidal waterway located between the hamlets of Mastic and Moriches, which has been subjected to various adverse impacts over the past few decades such as duck farm and sewage treatment plant discharges, septic system leachate, storm water runoff, loss of wetlands, over-development and shoreline hardening. As a result, the Forge River has had recurring algal blooms, water discoloration, low dissolved oxygen levels, fish and crustacean kills and foul-smelling odors. Efforts at various levels of government and by private environmental groups have been underway over the past several years to turn the Forge River around.