CSCR Junior Research Program

Using the sense of adventure, the wish to explore and discover; the creativity, high energy, curiosity, zany ideas, mud-seeking, hole-digging tendencies, of middle schoolers to research and document our harbor.

Due to popular demand and some great participants, we continued the Junior Research Program into the school year.  Students can choose to join either Tuesdays from 3:45-5:45 or Fridays from 3:30-5:30! See registration page for information.  
 
 Discoveries, Findings, and Project News
beginning with Summer 2018
 
Everywhere we go, we find interesting things! We charged Miya Bishop with figuring out a good way to catalog all of our discoveries so that we can share them with the public. Miya is already known in the program for her skills in identifying coastal animals and plants, and she has a good group of new colleagues with just as much enthusiasm. We want to create something concrete to complement our general joy of discovery, so the students would like to create a museum exhibit and website. Stay tuned to see how we go about this. This will be an ongoing project, and we welcome curious questions and input from the general public.
Our first distinct research project of the summer was to look at the part of Bassings Beach Island that was washed over in the Winter storms of 2018 with a big deposit of sand. In science, if something is "big," we always have to quantify "how big," so we will have a better description of that for you shortly, but if you google "Bassings Washover" you will find footage of what it looked like in May of 2018.
We began by charging Andrew Thompson, another veteran of the Junior Research Program, to get input from his colleagues and figure out a way for us to track the changes of this washover over time, so that we can present our findings to the public. The big question we are answering, as Del DiBona put it, in his first day, is: "is it bad?" Others are continuing this endeavor and finding out about the plants that hold the dunes.
  • If the ocean washes sand over the dunes and covers the grass, is it bad?
  • Will the dune grass come back?
  • Will the sand continue to land on the salt marsh, and
  • If so, is that bad?
  • We will also hypothesize on how long it might take for the vegetation to grow back.
We still have a lot to learn, but are off to a good start. This dune serves as a barrier beach for Cohasset Harbor, and the Junior Research leader, Susan Bryant, presented it to the town's Harbor Committee as an environmental Coh Asset -- providing an ecological service to the town for free.
Many municipalities are trying to design ways to protect their towns from the higher storm waves predicted for the coming years, so we will look at whether the influx of sand makes Bassings Beach Island more or less effective at mitigating wave action and storm flooding on our harbor.
 
School Year 2018-2019
 
Noah Shepard and Liam Holden presented our map at a public Harbor Committee meeting, and we continued to add to our map of Bassings Beach Island until it got too cold to use boats to shuttle across. Then we turned our attention to better connecting Cohasset Village and the Harbor, and brainstormed a young, old, pet and bike-friendly eco-path through the James Brook Meadow behind Elm Street.  Susan attended an Aquaculture conference and shared Manomet Observatory's clam farm idea which we modified to a small 1/4 square meter experimental patch which we tested in the mucky mud of the inner harbor.  At CSCR's Spring State of the Harbor we were able to present all of these ideas to the visiting Town and State Officials, and other members of the public.  Our school year program was bookended by a young humpback whale washing up on our shores at the beginning of the school year, and by perhaps an equal weight of living herring making their annual run through Jackson Square Weymouth in the Spring.
 
Summer 2019
Again, we had a great group of knowledgeable students with brilliant ideas! We revised our Survey 123, which is a phone app-based survey that we use for inputting our findings. On our high tide expeditions we continued studying the vegetation of Bassing Beach Island to see if it shows signs of recovering from the winter storms of 2018, looked for fiddler crabs in the salt marsh, collected marine debris, and used a seine net to look for fish. On our low tide expeditions, we looked for shellfish in and on the mud flats, studied benthic organisms under the microscope, and looked for evidence of crabs in the eelgrass meadows. We helped the Scituate Shellfish Commission undertake a drone survey.  We also made sand castles to experiment with fighting sea level rise and caught fish, crabs, shrimp and snails for our fish tank.  We left some "gardens" marked with stones to study whether different examples of dune vegetation are expanding or dying off.
 
Fall 2019 
 
Our many efforts are making our ARCGIS Shellfish Survey, Low Tide Expedition, and Bassing Beach Maps almost too complicated to read, so we will be solving that problem and looking at our underwater footage during the winter to pull our findings into a presentation for the Spring State of the Harbor.  We will be collaborating with the South Shore Art Center for two sessions related to the dune vegetation and marsh structure, and may embark on a seaweed survey because it seems like the varieties found are different than in previous years.
 
For additional information, please contact Susan Bryant at susangbryant at
yahoo.com or 857-231-1768
 
We welcome your support, financially, or in terms of donated microscopes, laptops,
gopros, snorkel gear, field trips or used rubber boots. Every bit helps.