PIERMONT MARSH AND LAMONT-DOHERTY EARTH OBSERVATORY AS LIVING CLASSROOMS
Piermont Marsh, a wetlands area just north of Palisades, New York, is the centerpiece of the Program. Students have been engaging in a broad ecological study of the Marsh, where each year we have added organizational and scientific capacity. The Program began with 2 research teams (fish diversity and invasive Phragmites australis). This summer, we have projects to study nutrients in streams and soils, sediment accumulation and mineralogy, carbon sequestration, soil bacteria, and methanogenesis. Additionally, the SSFRP offers an interesting duality component to place-based education, and engagement with science that goes beyond the Marsh. As the program has progressed, it is clear that for our students, “place” also refers to their time spent on the LDEO campus, with its nearly 200 PhD-level scientists. Interactions with scientists in their place of work shifts the students’ vision of their future to include higher education, allows them to imagine and move toward a STEM career, and expands their capacity to further similar relationships in other educational contexts.
Having the Marsh and LDEO research campus as classrooms has connected participating students to a location in the community as a starting point to teach important scientific concepts and provided engagement opportunities to active scientists. 100% of our students (approximately 85% Title 1, 60% young women, mostly from African /Latin-American families) have gone to college and approximately 50% of our students are interested in pursuing STEM majors. The Program, has gone a long way to engaging under-served population and promoting entry/retention into studies STEM fields.