Back to all news

Citizen Science: Using Macroinvertebrates to Measure Health of the Bronx River

Workshop Spotlight | January 19, 2022

How are New York City teachers empowering their students to become environmental stewards and activists within their local communities?

In the fall, MƒA teachers participated in “Citizen Science: Using Macroinvertebrates to Measure Health of the Bronx River,” a mini-course designed to help teachers expand their knowledge of citizen science fieldwork and lead similar work with their students. The three-session course began at Shoelace Park in the Bronx, where participants waded into the Bronx River to collect macroinvertebrates using two sample methods: kicknets and leaf bags. Through their collection, MƒA teachers counted the invertebrates and classified them using a dichotomous key. In session two, the group explored the river from Concrete Plant Park, this time to learn about seining, collecting, and surveying local fish populations.

“Getting on our waders and into the Bronx River was thrilling,” shared MƒA Master Teacher Laura Antunez Rodriguez (The High School of Fashion Industries). “These experiences connect us more to field science, allowing us to create local partnerships that provide opportunities for our students to learn more about their city, environmental justice and conservation, and the real world.” 

During the final session, the group analyzed their findings indoors to determine the overall health of the water and discussed the educational value of this course. “Collaborating with my colleagues in-person provided unique insight into students’ perspective as we addressed questions and misconceptions that are to be expected when out in the field,” added MƒA Master Teacher Soraya Abdelaziz (The Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music). “The social aspect of science was back and it helped me gain the confidence to support our future scientists with their fieldwork.”