The Science Barge

The Living River

Each one of us has an important role to play in the world. Working together we all create an environment in which others can survive and flourish.  This was the lesson that 8th grade science students took away as they listened to an interactive, engaging virtual presentation from two guest speakers from Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Science Barge. 

The program came to Westlake thanks to the generosity of the Pleasantville Garden Club's grant to the STEAM Symposium program. STEAM organizers Janet Matthews and Mary Knopp were excited to extend this enrichment opportunity into the school year and to a larger audience.

The Science Barge is a floating environmental education center on the Hudson River that has been in Yonkers for a dozen years.  The barge is fully off-the-grid, generating all their power from solar panels and wind turbines.  They grow an abundance of produce and herbs, which they donate to local food banks, and study the health and bio-diversity of life on the Hudson River.  The Science Barge is a public education destination allowing students to learn about the diverse environment right in their backyard. 

While the current climate doesn’t allow for students to visit the barge in person at this time, Sustainability Education Advocates Jason Bonet and Joel Rodriguez graciously spent time talking with several middle school classes over Google Meet. They explained the importance of maintaining a healthy eco-environment not only for the animals that call the Hudson River home, but also for the people who benefit from living near this vast resource. 

Alternating between pre-recorded videos and interactive discussions, the environmentalists spent time introducing the wide array of species that their group works to protect every day, including everything from Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons to Blue Crabs, American Eels and oysters. While some animals serve as a food source for humans and other animals, others help to keep the waters clean and oxygenated.  A threat to the population of any of these diverse animals would cause a disruption to the whole chain.  Bonet and Rodriguez explained to the students that the sum of the individual parts work together to create an important ecosystem that is worth protecting for the good of us all. 

Students left the lesson with a greater understanding of how the actions taken by humans can have an impact on more than just themselves. They learned that every individual plays a vital role in maintaining life in our great river.