Why contain science learning to a classroom when students can experience it firsthand outdoors? That’s what Mahopac High School students did this week during A Day in the Life of the Hudson River, where Chemistry and Living Environment classes explored the Hudson at the Steamboat Dock in Verplanck.
MHS science teacher Bob Connick, who has been teaching for 40 years and will retire at the end of this year, said this trip has been a highlight for him and his students since the program was in its infancy.
“You just can’t get this experience in a classroom,” Connick said. “The students are so involved!”
The Mahopac students were among 4,500 studying the Hudson this week, from New York City to Albany. Sponsored by the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, A Day in the Life of the Hudson boasts students from 98 schools.
Activities include testing samples of the river’s pH, salinity, conductivity and water temperature as well as identifying fish and aquatic wildlife species. Students also studied the physical shoreline of the river. Participants from all 98 schools will enter and pool their information on the DEC’s website.
“It is wonderful to have this age group active in learning about and appreciating the Hudson,” said the DEC’s Heather Gierloff, who accompanied the Mahopac students.
MHS science teachers Scott Rizzo and Tricia Johnson also accompanied students on the trip. “It’s a great experience, because students can apply what they studied in class in a hands-on way,” Johnson said.
Sophomore Kiley Hoyt said she enjoyed the real-world approach to learning as well. “We were really able to look at fish up close and personal, and not just in a book,” she said.
Connick said he knows his fellow MHS science teachers will carry on this tradition long after he retires. “The students are in great hands,” he said.
Still, Rizzo said Connick will be sorely missed. “He is a teacher of teachers,” he said. “His infectious energy is amazing!”