It Takes A Village Academy

2008–09 Fellows: Kate Nutter-Upham, Maxim Titley

This project built on the successful community food assessment project that was run in 2007–08 at AEL, extending it to a new community in Brooklyn, and to relate the results to health issues in the community. In addition, the fellows and students conducted a study on air quality in Flatbush: download the lesson on air quality (PDF).

Posters presented at the 2009 Brooklyn College Science Research Day: poster 1 (PDF)poster 2 (PDF)poster 3 (PDF)poster 4 (PDF)

2009–11 Fellows: Michael W. Magee, Reena Rahi

Project title: Air Pollution and Its Relationship to Health in the Community of East Flatbush
Project Question: What is the relationship between CO, CO2 and health issues related to air pollution in East Flatbush?

Our pollution-to-solution project in school year 2009–11 was designed to scientifically explore the relationship between air pollution and its effects on health within the community of East Flatbush. Specifically, across the year, using GPS and GIS technologies, students learned about pollution as they take measurements of carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) gas levels in their community. Then students compared these measurements to the prevalence of health issues related to air pollution in their community, such as asthma, reported by the New York City Department of Health. Working in small groups, students entered and organized their data, developed testable research questions (hypotheses), analyzed their data in search of the answers, interpreted their results, and presented their findings in formal presentations and posters.

At the end of the year, students explored solutions to the problem of air pollution and learned about cleaner fuel options when they took a field trip to a Brooklyn College science lab where Reena Rahi lead the students in a demonstration of the synthesis of biodiesel.

Our research on pollution in 2010–11 was a multiple perspective approach. Throughout the course of the year, the students learned about different aspects of pollution in several individual, stand-alone units, each with a specific focus relative to pollution in their community. At the end of the year, the students discussed the knowledge gained from these units and were encouraged to organize the themes encountered into a bigger picture. The year culminated with the students displaying their knowledge of pollution in their community via posters that met—or exceeded—the expectations of a professional science conference.

In the social psychology unit, the students were introduced to some of the basic principles and theories of social psychology.  In this unit, students learned how to think spatially while learning a clever mnemonic device (a memory aid) that involves pegging items from a list to be remembered along landmarks on a familiar journey. Additionally, students learned how to assess knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to pollution and recycling, and how to construct a survey to answer their own research questions with the aim of creating an informative pamphlet or handout distributed in their community as part of a recycling advocacy project.

In the soil unit, the students partnered with the students and teachers of STAR school and collected salinity data from the soil in Prospect Park. Additionally, the students learned how to test the pH level lead content of the soil. All samples will be geo-tagged using sophisticated GPS tools and then mapped using GIS technologies.

In the water unit, the students again traveled to Prospect Park to collect water samples for pH, salinity, turbidity and fecal coliform bacteria testing. Additionally, there were two in-class exercises in this unit: Students participated in an oil spill study in which they explored how oil reacts to water, what solvents do, and how to best collect oil from water; and students participated in a water-filtration exercise and explored how to best filter water using variously sized substrates.

In the air unit, the students collected particulate matter from the air in their community and then analyzed their samples for type and size using microscopes.

In the energy unit, the students explored the different properties of different fuels with a focus on bio-fuels and renewable energy sources.

Poster presented at 2010 Brooklyn College Science Research Day: download poster (PDF)
Poster presented at 2011 Brooklyn College Science Research Day: download poster (PDF)

2011–13 Fellows: Remy Rovelli, Malgorzata Frik

Comparative study of pollution in two Brooklyn neighborhoods

Students collected data in two different neighborhoods in Brooklyn to compare the amount of pollution found in each one. They calculated the excess amount of CO2 by measuring how much is being absorbed by trees, compared to how much is being given off by humans and cars. Noise pollution was also taken into account, and compared between the two neighborhoods. By the end of the project, students used the results and data they have gathered, to tried and come up with solutions for problems like excess CO2 and noise pollution.

Measuring noise pollution in the MTA subway system in Brooklyn.

Students rode several train lines in Brooklyn and used noise meters to measure the amount of noise that people are exposed to throughout the  subway system. Students then created a map that showed which stations are the loudest, and which ones pose the greatest auditory health risks. Students presented this data to fellow school mates and community members to try and raise awareness on how to reduce the amount of noise you are exposed to daily.

Through these two projects we hoped to show students the importance of active research and public outreach, to try and motivate them to make positive changes in their communities, and the world. We exposed students to a variety of field techniques and skills that promoted efficiency and accuracy when collecting data. Students presented their work, and developed experience in how to clearly and efficiently convey their message.

Carbon Footprint Tree/Car Study (2012–13)

In this projects, students went to selected neighborhoods around the city to figure out if the carbon dioxide sequestration rates for the trees in that area make up for the amount emitted by vehicles that pass through it. To do this, students measured the apparent heights and circumferences of the all the trees found on the sidewalks of the areas selected. Then, students counted the amount and types of cars that passed on the selected blocks. Using various calculations, students were able to measure sequestration vs. emission, to figure out if there is an excess of CO2 in the different neighborhoods. They compared all the neighborhoods and came up with ways to help reduce air pollution.

Posters presented at 2012 Brooklyn College Science Research Day: poster 1 (PDF)poster 2 (PDF)

Brooklyn. All in.