CSCR’s Signature Community Outreach and Education Event — where our students shine and the community learns
CSCR student research teams present their findings to the community and stakeholders. In years when we meet in person, guests would visit each group to learn about our eelgrass meadows, harbor currents, indicators of watershed pollution, trash patterns, what lives out beyond the flats, shellfish populations, and whether Bassing Beach island is on the move. Beginning in 2020, we moved our State of the Harbor event to Zoom, with plenty of opportunities to interact and comment at the end.
OUT IN FRONT OF EARTH DAY
CSCR Students Present Research
Cohasset — Friday, April 1, 2021, Center for Student Coastal Research students presented their findings from their 2020 research season at the annual State of the Harbor Community Forum, held virtually, by Zoom, for the second year.
CSCR founder and president, Jack Buckley, kicked off the event with an overview of CSCR’s driving philosophy: engaging students in community-based, hands-on, authentic research that addresses environmental issues throughout the South Coastal Watershed. The varsity research students took the virtual floor with slides showing the context and results of their research on water quality, bacteria and eelgrass monitoring.
The Watershed project — Jack Greenip, Carl Fernald, and Allen Hale, mentored by Dr. Ann Thomae, the retired and beloved Cohasset High School Chemistry teacher, — introduced themselves as “a committed and focused team, working within the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic,” and concluded with calling 2020 “a very average year, a good thing in terms of water quality.” Their research on pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, bacteria, and chlorophyll along the Gulf River, is supported in part by donations from the local watershed stewardship organization, the Gulf Association.
Grace and Ada Cogill presented one of the bacteria monitoring projects funded in part, by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP), reporting on their 12 weeks of sampling in the Weir River. They shared data with the zoom audience showing that MA DEP water quality standards for enterococci bacteria were exceeded only at a few sites when heavy rains fell and concluded that the bacteria levels were only of concern in one of the tributaries feeding the main system. Likewise, sophomore Bridgit DeGroat, described her bacteria findings in Cohasset Harbor and at Cohasset’s public beaches. For a dozen years or more, CSCR has been collecting water samples for the Board of Health that are processed at a state-certified professional lab while simultaneously analyzing duplicate bacteria (enterococci) samples in the CSCR lab. Similar to results in years past, Bridgit reported that her team’s data correlated tightly with the data from the professional lab. Bridgit also showed the viewers how rainfall contributed to excessively high bacteria counts in Cohasset waters.
Fresh from presenting the previous day at a professional conference hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the varsity eelgrass team, Scituate’s Brendan Burke, and Cohasset’s Lucy Clay, Andrew Hoadley and Beck LaBash, explained how their 2020 research had unfolded and evolved since Clay and Hoadley applied for and won a grant from the Marjot Foundation, with initial inspiration from their Cohasset High School statistics course. Operating from June-September in the spacious research vessel donated by Aaron Hassan, they had combined technology as ancient as a tallow-filled leadline and a long wooden pole, with modern ArcGIS, drones, underwater gopros, GPS pingers, and machine learning. Through the Python coding skills of Beck LaBash, they were able to geotag thousands of underwater video images and create a more comprehensive map of the outer harbor sediments and eelgrass coverage than has ever existed.
As graduating seniors, they shared their reflections that participating in this CSCR project had allowed them to learn in different ways, practice their managerial skills, and had even earned one a college scholarship!
The Lightning Round of presentations began with another mixed Cohasset-Scituate student team, (Molly, Libby, Nick and Carter) describing their picture-post project where anyone can take photos to boost the understanding of our local marshes’ roles in storm tide pathways.
CHS 9th grader Noah McDowall followed with an ArcGIS map he’d created of tidelines on the flats and Bassing Beach by walking with one foot in the water and the other out.
The ArcGIS class and professional development workshop, that Buckley ran at Cohasset High School, thanks to the Cohasset Education Foundation, yielded presentations by Wes Bodell, Mercedes O’Neil and Mason Joyce on climate change, diversity views of local teachers, and on local strengths/weaknesses in terms of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
CSCR’s Ecology Coach, Susan Bryant, provided reports on the Recreation, Shellfish and Wildlife Surveys conducted on the flats and in Cohasset’s outer harbor, funded in part by the Scituate Education Foundation. “The question is where do all these thoughts lead for summer 2021 research,” said Buckley.
CSCR is a nonprofit organization based in the old Haggerty Colonials house at 40 Parker Avenue, Cohasset. Information for interested students is available at www.ccscr.org. The recorded event may also be found there and at https://youtu.be/jnzw3Z6fNA8.
Our students work hard to crunch their data to present their findings to you. CSCR asks for your generous financial donations to sponsor the State of the Harbor event.
Click to watch.