Everyone has noticed the construction going on. It’s impossible to miss. But all of the work and commotion it is causing has everybody asking, “What exactly is the pond project?”
The purpose of the pond project is to “remediate” the wetland, says Mrs Kneidel. This means that the goal of the project is to help cleanse and purify the water that eventually enters back into the Peconic estuary. By transforming the wetlands, our school is taking advantage of a great opportunity for learning.
The goal is to create a “living laboratory” for, not only the Mercy students, but for all students on the East End. This onsite laboratory will be used for conducting experiments, observations, and an alternative classroom.
The main goal of the pond project is to cleanse the water. Run-off water from the street will go into a catch basin and slowly trail down a man-made stream along the pathway of the plants that will cleanse it and eventually end up in the pond.
When asked if the pond project collaborates with the environmental science class, Mrs. Navarra replied that it does, but not all the time.
“I hope in the future, the environmental science class, as well as all science classes and cross-curricular classes, will take advantage of the opportunities right outside of our door,” Mrs. Navarra said.
The pond project is intended to be a part of the environment science class in the coming years, but it is uncertain whether it will be a separate class or not.
The idea for the project started about seven years ago, and it has clearly been several years in the works. The project is funded by a New York State Environmental Facilities Care grant, says Mrs. Kneidel.
Additionally, various colleges and universities are collaborating with our school on this project, including Fordham University and Molloy College.
There are about 15 to 20 selected students who work on the pond project, ranging from seventh to twelfth grade. Two to four students were selected per grade. The students were chosen based on teacher recommendations and academic performance. Since the students miss some class time, it is essential that that those selected students are responsible and trustworthy so they will make up the work they missed.
The students have various roles in the pond project. They have been testing and analyzing the water and soil in and around the pond. They will also be responsible for propagating plugs of plants that will be placed around the pond. These plants will help to cleanse the soil and the water.
Some students have been participating by taking photographs of the different stages of construction. “I’d like to train the chosen students to know enough about the pond project that if students from another school visit on a field trip, the students can assist in conducting it,” Mrs. Navarra said.
“I really enjoy working on the pond project,” said junior Jackie Zaweski. “Every time the group meets, we are taught about new topics and are able to do hands-on activities. I’m learning so much and I’m so happy I was given to opportunity to be a part of it.”
The administrators want other teachers to get their classes involved once the pond is complete. Mrs. Navarra says that the pond is a perfect place for English and religion classes to be inspired, reflect, pray, and tap into their creativity. She even says that she would like the art class to design signs that identify elements of the wetlands. It is expected to be complete this spring.