New York Harbor School
CTE Educators and Advisors: Thank You

With state certification for our Career and Technical Education curricula imminent, now’s the time for a huge thank you to the CTE faculty whose creative thinking, educational expertise, and commitment to pedagogical excellence made this possible.  

Our Aquaculture, Marine Biology Research, Marine Systems Technology, Ocean Engineering, Scientific Diving, and Vessel Operations programs are unique, and the educators who are designing the programs are true educational pioneers.

They don’t do their work alone.  Behind these educators stand a host of volunteer advisors.  The industry leaders and experts who make up our Professional Advisory Committee are a key part of Harbor’s unique ability to remain tapped into developments in the wider maritime world— which is crucial to our commitment to giving our students an education that will help to prepare them to work in that world.  

Each of our six CTE programs has its own set of advisors— our teachers consult with representatives of organizations in the PAC as they develop their curricula and consider the content and methods they use to teach.  These representatives— men and women who are at the forefront of their fields— are crucial co-navigators, helping us to set the right course for our programs and curricula and help ensure that course content helps prepare our students for the working world.  Many of us in the Harbor School community will be seeing each other at the April 30th New York Harbor Ball, our annual benefit— if you’re there, and you happen to meet a member of the PAC, say thank you.  

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Diving the Aquarium

A recent addition to the SCUBA CTE program’s roster of opportunities is the New York Aquarium internship.  As part of this new partnership, some of the program’s most experienced senior divers have been heading out on a regular basis to Coney Island to put their diving skills to practical use in the Aquarium’s tanks.  

SCUBA teacher Joe Gessert describes one of these sessions:

"Students Kevin M., Andrew S, Gabe S, Julian P, and Peter K (and Liv!) spent almost two hours underwater in the Glovers Reef exhibit, cleaning glass, scrubbing algae, waving to small open-jawed children, and dodging the occasional moray eel swim-by."

Who wants to bet that in a couple of years, some of those small open-jawed children will be applying to Harbor themselves?

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Congratulations to Marine Biology Research Program student Pablo Jiminez!  On Sunday, March 2nd, he represented Harbor at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair, New York’s most prestigious science and engineering competition.  It’s the first time that a Harbor student has been selected to compete in this event, which brings together the top research students from around New York City.  Said Pablo, “it was a pleasure to get to speak to so many enthusiastic young science scholars.”

For details— and more MBRP coverage— check out the Harbor SEALS blog.

Congratulations to Marine Biology Research Program student Pablo Jiminez!  On Sunday, March 2nd, he represented Harbor at the New York City Science and Engineering Fair, New York’s most prestigious science and engineering competition.  It’s the first time that a Harbor student has been selected to compete in this event, which brings together the top research students from around New York City.  Said Pablo, “it was a pleasure to get to speak to so many enthusiastic young science scholars.”

For details— and more MBRP coverage— check out the Harbor SEALS blog.

"Can newly fertilized oyster eggs be reared to successfully metamorphose in New York Harbor water by New York High School students?"  That’s been the question at the heart of Pete Malinowski’s work with Harbor School students over the past seven years.

The answer, as he reported to the Harbor community this past Friday, is yes.

His report follows:

One way to find out.

In 2007, when Murray and I first met and started talking about growing oysters at Harbor School, he asked me if I thought it was possible to run an oyster hatchery on Governors Island.  I told him I didn’t know if the water quality would allow it but there was only one way to find out.  

Generally speaking, when siting an oyster hatchery, the number one concern is water quality.  Bivalve larvae are extremely sensitive to impurities or toxins in the water and will not develop normally if they are present (the younger the oyster the more sensitive it is to water quality).  The best indicator that water quality is acceptable in an area is the presence of a robust oyster population. Absent that, there should be solid evidence that the site is free from pollution sources, heavy boat traffic and industrialization.  

Whoops…..

They grew like popcorn.

Knowing that we did not have an ideal site we decided to run some tests.  In 2009, we installed a floating upweller system right in front of the current MAST center and stocked that with 100,000 2mm oyster seed.  While these were 8 times the size of oysters at their final larval stage and 50 times the size of fertilized eggs they are still a decent bio-indicator.  

They grew like popcorn, doubling in size each week.  

Next, in 2010 we built a remote setting system on Lima pier on the south end of the island to see if 3-week old larvae could survive and successfully metamorphose in East River water.  They did, and we spent a couple of years happily importing millions of oyster larvae and building up our numbers in the water and on our reefs.  

The ultimate question…

With the MAST center we finally have New York Harbor in our classroom and can begin answering the ultimate question: Can newly fertilized oyster eggs be reared to successfully metamorphose in New York Harbor water by New York high School students?  A few weeks ago, we spawned our oysters and stocked our tanks with 11 million fertilized eggs.  If everything had gone perfectly we could have expected to get about 250,000 set oysters out of that group.

Gradually, over two weeks they were culled down to about 200,000 growing larvae.  A subset of these were retained on a 200 micron screen (indicating that they are large enough to metamorphose) and placed in a 5-gallon bucket with some oyster shells as substrate.  

Then the power went out for 30 hours or so.  

This cut off aeration and heat to our tanks.  I was sure that all the oysters would be dead on Wednesday when we came in.  We lost the remaining smaller larvae but our bucket yielded surprising results.  

What we are trying to do is actually possible.

2,873 oysters attached to the shells, rearranged their internal organs and began to build their own shells.  It’s not the 250,00 we were hoping for from that group, and it’s a far cry from the billion we hope to produce, but it is the best indicator so far that what we are trying to do is actually possible.  The following students conducted the spawn and were responsible for almost all the care that went into these tiny little guys.  Please give them your congratulations.

Erin N.
Lola B.
Ashia S.
Gerard O.
Maleek P.
Michael R.
Clark A.
Lanasia L.

Beni N.

"Can newly fertilized oyster eggs be reared to successfully metamorphose in New York Harbor water by New York High School students?"  That’s been the question at the heart of Pete Malinowski’s work with Harbor School students over the past seven years.

The answer, as he reported to the Harbor community this past Friday, is yes.

His report follows:

One way to find out.

In 2007, when Murray and I first met and started talking about growing oysters at Harbor School, he asked me if I thought it was possible to run an oyster hatchery on Governors Island.  I told him I didn’t know if the water quality would allow it but there was only one way to find out.  

Generally speaking, when siting an oyster hatchery, the number one concern is water quality.  Bivalve larvae are extremely sensitive to impurities or toxins in the water and will not develop normally if they are present (the younger the oyster the more sensitive it is to water quality).  The best indicator that water quality is acceptable in an area is the presence of a robust oyster population. Absent that, there should be solid evidence that the site is free from pollution sources, heavy boat traffic and industrialization.  

Whoops…..

They grew like popcorn.

Knowing that we did not have an ideal site we decided to run some tests.  In 2009, we installed a floating upweller system right in front of the current MAST center and stocked that with 100,000 2mm oyster seed.  While these were 8 times the size of oysters at their final larval stage and 50 times the size of fertilized eggs they are still a decent bio-indicator.  

They grew like popcorn, doubling in size each week.  

Next, in 2010 we built a remote setting system on Lima pier on the south end of the island to see if 3-week old larvae could survive and successfully metamorphose in East River water.  They did, and we spent a couple of years happily importing millions of oyster larvae and building up our numbers in the water and on our reefs.  

The ultimate question…

With the MAST center we finally have New York Harbor in our classroom and can begin answering the ultimate question: Can newly fertilized oyster eggs be reared to successfully metamorphose in New York Harbor water by New York high School students?  A few weeks ago, we spawned our oysters and stocked our tanks with 11 million fertilized eggs.  If everything had gone perfectly we could have expected to get about 250,000 set oysters out of that group.

Gradually, over two weeks they were culled down to about 200,000 growing larvae.  A subset of these were retained on a 200 micron screen (indicating that they are large enough to metamorphose) and placed in a 5-gallon bucket with some oyster shells as substrate.  

Then the power went out for 30 hours or so.  

This cut off aeration and heat to our tanks.  I was sure that all the oysters would be dead on Wednesday when we came in.  We lost the remaining smaller larvae but our bucket yielded surprising results.  

What we are trying to do is actually possible.

2,873 oysters attached to the shells, rearranged their internal organs and began to build their own shells.  It’s not the 250,00 we were hoping for from that group, and it’s a far cry from the billion we hope to produce, but it is the best indicator so far that what we are trying to do is actually possible.  The following students conducted the spawn and were responsible for almost all the care that went into these tiny little guys.  Please give them your congratulations.

Erin N.

Lola B.

Ashia S.

Gerard O.

Maleek P.

Michael R.

Clark A.

Lanasia L.

Beni N.

Hey, SCUBA-interested New Yorker:
This could be you!!  Well, substitute a pool in Bushwick for a Bahamian bay, but, you know, other than that…
Liv Dillon and Joe Gessert, NYHS’ Scientific Diving instructors, are offering a series of adult diving classes in March, at the end of which you will be happily in possession of Professional Association of Diving Instructors certification.  And ready to either book a trip, or (in maybe a couple of months) to join the locals for a Long Island Divers’ Association event.
Your fees will help fund field trips and equipment for students in the scientific diving CTE program, enabling students to work towards their own certifications.
Email Liv at ldillion@newyorkharborschool.org to find out more.

Details from Liv:

PADI open water dive training includes classroom work, pool dives, and open water dives. We are offering the classroom work and pool dives at our ancestral home at Bushwick Campus (off the Myrtle/Wyckoff stop on the L and M trains) over three full weekend days prior to Spring Break in mid-March (Sat, Mar 22, Sat, April 5th and Sun April 6th).

The four open water dives to finish the certification will be scheduled in Round Valley, New Jersey over two weekend days TBD in late May or June.

Alternately, divers can just do classroom and pool sessions with us, receive a referral and complete their certification in a warmer location over Spring break or during the summer. 

Upon completion of the four open water dives, divers will be certified as  open water divers and able to go on recreational dives to a depth limit of 60 feet, or deeper with further training.

The cost for the entire certification is $500. You must provide your own transportation to Round Valley NJ for the certification dives, and pay for parking. (For comparison: with gear and materials the o/w class costs $1000 at a Manhattan dive shop, which includes mask, snorkel & fins, $775 in Florida, $309 w/o gear but with dorm lodging in Utila).

The cost for only the classroom and pool work is $300. We will give you a referral, and you can do your check-out dives anywhere that has a PADI shop, this usually costs $300 - $400 for the four dives.

Here are the dates and times of the class/pool sessions:

Saturday, March 22nd: 10am-5pm (chapter 1, dive 1, swimming test)
Saturday, April 5th: 10am-6pm (chapters 2 and 3 and dives 2 and 3)
Sunday, April 6th: 10am-6pm (chapters 4 and 5 and dives 4 and 5)

Ending times are approximate. Starting times are not.
To confirm a spot, folks will need to give us a deposit and pick up a textbook.

If you’re interested, email ldillon@newyorkharborschool.org

Hey, SCUBA-interested New Yorker:

This could be you!!  Well, substitute a pool in Bushwick for a Bahamian bay, but, you know, other than that…

Liv Dillon and Joe Gessert, NYHS’ Scientific Diving instructors, are offering a series of adult diving classes in March, at the end of which you will be happily in possession of Professional Association of Diving Instructors certification.  And ready to either book a trip, or (in maybe a couple of months) to join the locals for a Long Island Divers’ Association event.

Your fees will help fund field trips and equipment for students in the scientific diving CTE program, enabling students to work towards their own certifications.

Email Liv at ldillion@newyorkharborschool.org to find out more.

Details from Liv:

PADI open water dive training includes classroom work, pool dives, and open water dives. We are offering the classroom work and pool dives at our ancestral home at Bushwick Campus (off the Myrtle/Wyckoff stop on the L and M trains) over three full weekend days prior to Spring Break in mid-March (Sat, Mar 22, Sat, April 5th and Sun April 6th).

The four open water dives to finish the certification will be scheduled in Round Valley, New Jersey over two weekend days TBD in late May or June.

Alternately, divers can just do classroom and pool sessions with us, receive a referral and complete their certification in a warmer location over Spring break or during the summer. 

Upon completion of the four open water dives, divers will be certified as  open water divers and able to go on recreational dives to a depth limit of 60 feet, or deeper with further training.

The cost for the entire certification is $500. You must provide your own transportation to Round Valley NJ for the certification dives, and pay for parking. (For comparison: with gear and materials the o/w class costs $1000 at a Manhattan dive shop, which includes mask, snorkel & fins, $775 in Florida, $309 w/o gear but with dorm lodging in Utila).

The cost for only the classroom and pool work is $300. We will give you a referral, and you can do your check-out dives anywhere that has a PADI shop, this usually costs $300 - $400 for the four dives.

Here are the dates and times of the class/pool sessions:

Saturday, March 22nd: 10am-5pm (chapter 1, dive 1, swimming test)

Saturday, April 5th: 10am-6pm (chapters 2 and 3 and dives 2 and 3)

Sunday, April 6th: 10am-6pm (chapters 4 and 5 and dives 4 and 5)

Ending times are approximate. Starting times are not.

To confirm a spot, folks will need to give us a deposit and pick up a textbook.

If you’re interested, email ldillon@newyorkharborschool.org

Unbeknownst to many New Yorkers, national parks ring the Harbor.  Harbor School students have a special relationship with the National Park Service, since a good chunk of Governors Island is in fact Governors Island National Monument.  

So it was natural that Harbor School should start a National Parks Club. One of the Club’s first expeditions was to Federal Hall, the building on Wall Street where George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States— back when New York was the capitol of those states.  Among the many things they saw on their expedition: a wide circular groove in the floor, caused by generations of sailors walking around the Customs desk to declare their goods, after they disembarked to do their own exploring of New York City…

Thanks to Eleanor Hodak for the photos and insights!

The SCUBA Adventurers

For more from the trip, check out Will Strathmann’s amazing pics— and his rundown of their visit!

The pro diving CTE visited The Island School on Eleuthera… and then had to come back to snowbound NYC!  

After decades of cleanup efforts in the river, a one-acre oyster reef, aimed at serving as an anchor for the marine ecosystem, has been created on the river’s bottom.

Summer Indock is Underway!

Incoming Harbor School freshman are learning about all that their new high school has to offer. Each week, a new group comes to the island to engage in all kinds of activities including sailing, kayaking, and boat building. The students start each day with some fitness exercises to get them energized right from the start. Then, they are broken up into smaller groups, or “watches”, to carry out various activities. Students are learning how to capture a man overboard on the Pioneer sailboat in NY Harbor, building a zip line, steering motor boats, and much more! At various points during the day, students are asked to engage in conversations and share their ideas about the 6 “character pillars” of a Harbor School student-respect, responsibility, community, caring, fairness, and trustworthiness. The week ends with an activity-filled day at SUNY Maritime. There, the students attend an information session, take a campus tour, swim in the pool, and use the school’s kayaks and motorboats. Then the kids head back to Governor’s Island for an overnight campout. On the island, the kids make s’mores around a campfire and take on some team-building exercises. Before “lights-out”, there is a wrap-up session where the Indock students go around and say their favorite part about the week and the upperclassmen interns shout-out to the younger kids for such a wonderful time. After a fun-filled, jam-packed week, everyone sleeps well in their sleeping bags!!