Collaborative Class Project Connects Students with New York City’s Environment

July 15, 2013 | Academics

Student Richard Davila at Stuyvesant Cove Park E  20th ST  Photo by Cassandra Ortiz

Student Richard Davila at Stuyvesant Cove Park E 20th ST. Photo by Cassandra Ortiz

One of the engaging projects in Instructor Derek Tesser’s Spring II Introduction to Chemistry course this summer asked students to explore New York City’s waterways to determine the chloride levels of the water samples they collected from the local river system. The objective of the study was to provide students with an understanding of the flow of water throughout the city and the level of human impact on the water system. Chloride levels in the river system increase with human use of the water.

Students also tested tap and bottled water samples to compare the results with their river water samples. The students determined that while both bottled water and New York City tap water have no detectable chloride ion (and therefore are devoid of human activity), the river water samples showed variable, though generally high, concentrations of chloride ion. In particular, samples collected from sources close to water treatment plants had the highest chloride concentrations indicating significant human activity in the area.

“The field experience gave students ownership over the project and effectively connected them to our NYC environmental system,” noted Instructor Tesser.


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