Last fall, chemistry students tested water quality along the waterfront in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. For the lab component of CHEM 1102 General Chemistry II, student teams collected water from various points in Brooklyn Bridge Park, where one can walk down to and touch (if you dare) the East River. Taking samples back to CityTech labs, student groups performed a series of tests to assess the levels of nitrate and nitrite, water hardness, pH, iron concentration, and the measure of conductivity. Professor Samaroo’s students were able to borrow samples taken pre-storm from students in Professor Ralph Alcendor’s BIO 3302 Microbiology I course, which allowed the chemistry lab students to compare their findings with data from water sampled before the hurricane.
Using New York waterways as an open laboratory, students engaged in an innovative collaborative project and conducted significant research at the undergraduate level. Professor Samaroo demonstrated how local settings could give students experience in field-based research. Moreover, real-world engagement enhanced student learning in the methodologies of data collection and lab analysis, and the production of scientific lab reports. The semester’s research project culminated in a presentation “Analysis of Inorganic Chemicals on Water Quality in Brooklyn: A Title V Collaborative Project” at CityTech’s Annual Faculty and Student Research Poster Session.
I am so impressed with the work of our faculty and our students. Using such a significant event in the lives of our community in a way that enhances our exploration and understanding of the waterfront is a valuable lesson. I am looking forward to learning more about your work.