Teachers Preparatory High School

2007–09 Fellows: Matthew K. Meyer, Janina Scarlet

Project Theme: Infrastructure Building
Teachers and fellows spent the 2007–08 school year working at the school to develop reusable city-as-lab educational units involving Jamaica Bay, Prospect Park, and Central Park. These lesson plans and educational units were incorporated into the 2008–09 project. GK-12 fellows also assisted the schools administration in overhauling and upgrading the schools technology infrastructure.

Project Theme: Air Quality
Teachers and fellows spent the 2007–08 school year studying neighborhood air quality. Following a series of introductory lectures and skill-building workshops, students conducted experiments using data gathered in their own neighborhood. Collectively, the projects examined and attempted to quantify the pollution sources, pollutants and effects of air pollution in and their school. The projects were designed to give back to the community by promoting air-quality awareness in the general public, and encouraging students at TPS to become environmental stewards for  neighborhood.

Project Question: “Is There an Air-Quality Problem in Brownsville?”

Educational Focus (NSF-GK12):
This was an urban, school-based, high-school level project involving two teachers, two Fellows, and two earth science classes. The project focused on communicating STEM, broadening students exposure to technology, promoting scientific vocations, and effectively using available resources in a city environment in the service of education.

Educational Focus (Regents):
The New York City High School Science Regents Scope and Sequence (NYC-SR-S&S) defines “scientific inquiry” (e.g., asking questions, making discoveries, gathering data, analyzing explanations, communicating information) as “an integral component of the earth science course.” We can think of no better way to promote scientific inquiry skills than through such a large-scale science project.

This year’s air quality project also incorporated these topics from the NYC-SR-S&S (Unit: Topics):

  • Measurements, Reference Tables, Graphing, Locating Points on the Earth, Latitude, Longitude, Maps, GPS/GIS
  • Volcanoes
  • Mining and Natural Resources
  • Water Cycle, Weathering, Soils, Real-World Applications
  • Arc of Suns’ Travels, Season, Energy Exchanges in the Atmosphere
  • Weather Variables

Two earth science classes averaging 25 students a class completed this project using 21 school weeks. Students met with their teachers and the BC-GK12 fellows on Fridays during class and worked in groups to conduct six different air quality experiments.

The results of their experiments were:

  • turned into PowerPoint presentations that included Excel graphs and “My World GIS”–generated images,
  • used for their own school science fair projects,
  • submitted as class projects to the Brooklyn College Science Research Day 2009 competition (students from Teachers Prep beat out 11 other high-school entrants to take second place in the high-school level competition), and
  • summarized in letters that were signed by the students and sent to political leaders, including President Obama.

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

2009–11 Fellows: Janina Scarlet, Nick DiFrancesco, Mark Kanner

Project Theme: Sustainable Urban Community Farming and Life Expectancy

Project Question: How can we promote sustainability and increase life expectancy in Brownsville, Brooklyn?

Educational Focus (NSF-GK12): GIS mapping of air, water, soil, and social issue analysis

Project Outline: For the 2009–10 school year, the GK-12 fellows and teachers have decided upon an ambitious project that is centered around the standards of the courses the teachers will be teaching.  We have constructed an essential guiding question, addressing a problem that exists in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, and from there defined different facets of the project that students had the opportunity to explore on their own. This was done to maximize student involvement and elicit a sense of purpose from the students.

Living Environment: It is known that poorer neighborhoods of New York City, including Brownsville, typically have markedly shorter life expectancies than that of more affluent neighborhoods. The Regents Living Environment class will be studying health concerns in Brownsville, and how these potential hazards could have a negative impact on public health and life expectancy. To do this, groups of students observed and collected data on several key contributors to the public health dilemma that currently exist there. The class collected air, water, soil, crime, and disease data from the field and from documentation in order to understand how each of these components affect public health.

EATS Community Farming: A major goal of the EATS class is to understand how local farms and community gardens can have a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. This class explored how to promote sustainability in Brownsville through urban agriculture. Students examined growing methods, pest control, composting, food preservation and soil conservation to see what techniques are applicable in their community. Ultimately, students were able to identify practices that can be applied to everyday life in order to increase awareness and conservation, and promote more of an awareness for sustainable lifestyles in Brooklyn.

Project Theme: Analysis and implementation sustainable farming, community recycling and composting programs. Impact of air quality on health.

Project Question: How do we promote sustainable agriculture and recycling programs? What are the effects of tree cover and air pollution on health and asthma rates in the community?

Project Outline: For the 2010–11 school year, the GK-12 fellows and teachers continued to investigate methods for promoting sustainable community gardens in Brownsville. We also continued to investigate air quality in Brooklyn, focusing on the students’ community. The students of Teacher’s Prep High School also surveyed their fellow classmates, teachers and the community to discern attitudes of people toward adopting programs to reduce the waste stream, such as composting and recycling.

Living Environment: The Living Environment class followed a Regents curriculum in order to fulfill students’ requirements for graduation. Students conducted investigations of their environment in order to determine what factors contribute to successful recycling programs, and how to best integrate these programs at home, in their classroom and in the community. Students also monitored particulate matter around their homes, and researching the detrimental effects of it. In addition, students monitored the occurrence of asthma in the classrooms and how it correlates with particulate matter in their neighborhoods.

EATS Community Farming: The EATS class focused on optimizing crop yields in the community gardens that the class operates. Students observed the changes in growth of plants, such as lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, beets and collard greens. Students also devised methods for extending the growing season, and having productive harvests even over the winter season, by constructing cold hoops- greenhouse type structures designed to trap, and re-radiate heat in colder months. The students experimented with different methods for composting, and recycling food wastes in the school. Using innovative techniques such as Bokashi food fermentation, students intended to shorten the decomposition time of food wastes, and at the same time, introduce nutrients to the soils they are farming. Students also investigated ways to grow crops effectively and cheaply indoors by doing experiments with window farming, and using grow labs in the classroom.

Posters presented at 2010 Brooklyn College Science Research Day: poster 1 (PDF)poster 2 (PDF)

2011–13 Fellows: Jennifer Drieves, Andrea Huska

Grades: 8–12

Students were involved in the execution of scientific projects from start to finish. Natural science research were conducted, results were analyzed, and students learned how to interpret, represent and communicate their findings. The proposed projects promoted learning both inside and outside the classroom, and each provided the opportunity for students to become more aware and involved in their community. Overall, the projects provided students with a unique and rigorous learning experience.

Project Questions: How can greenspace be beneficial? How can students use their research to promote greenspace exposure? What is noise pollution? Are the noise levels New York City subway riders exposed to safe/healthy?

Tracking Noise Pollution Levels in New York City Subways
This project provided students the opportunity to get out into their city and measure noise levels at various subway stops in the city as well as in subway cars. Students had the opportunity to create their own methodology within this investigation by designing and organizing their data collection methods as well as making predictions and interpretations.

CO2 Compensation of Trees
This project provided students the opportunity to get out into local greenspaces and collect data, including tree sizes and quantities. Students measured field observations using mathematical formulas.

Poster presented at 2012 Brooklyn College Science Research Day: download poste4 (PDF)

Brooklyn. All in.