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The AP Environmental Science classes presented their final projects last week at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. They included writing and illustrating a children’s storybook about a water bottle that would be recycled, creating a monopoly-inspired board game that includes selling home-grown produce and buying carbon tax credits, and setting up a Hunger Banquet to simulate the imbalanced distribution of food in our world.
The diversity of projects represents the interdisciplinary nature of this college-level integrated science course.
“The course covers topics ranging from evolution to population dynamics, from climate control to birth control, and from sink holes to ozone holes,” said Dr. Burke, the head of John Jay’s science department who has taught this class since 1999. “The course is taught experientially, thus laboratory and field work, both directed and independent, are integral components of the course.”
“We look at the real world and try to find solutions to problems,” said Dr. Burke. “Much of what we do ties back to use of resources."
This year, AP Environmental Science students tested the soil on their own property, and analyzed their household’s water use. They participated in Bedford Audubon Society's Hawk Watch at Butler Sanctuary, met a master falconer who introduced them to birds of prey, and learned about soil from Rene Marion, Stone Barns’ Director of Education. They monitored streams, built bluebird boxes, measured trees, visited a former iron and zinc mine, and more—noting observations of each experience in a field journal.
The AP Environmental Science classes baked chocolate chip cookies in solar ovens they brought to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
While there, they visited the pollinator garden that was just planted by the cohort under the direction of Jeff Main, the park superintendent, assisted by two of the students, Ariel Koff and Reilly Gryzwacz.
AP Environmental Science and Wilderness visited the Wolf Conservation Center. Their guide was Emily Pomeroy, daughter of MPES Assistant Principal Dawn Pomeroy, who is a senior at SUNY ESF and who had interned at the Wolf Center during the summer.
"Emily was especially pleased to do this tour for us," said Dr. Burke, "AP Environmental Science at John Jay cemented the path she would choose to follow in college."
Rose Bonanno, Advisory Board member of the Lewisboro Land Trust, came to class to speak about sustainable trails.
The students put what they learned about preserving and protecting trails into practice by doing field work at the Leon Levy Preserve.