For over a decade we have worked with thousands of high school students in a collaborative ‘system based’ science project called “A Day in the Life of the Hudson River Estuary”. This annual event combines field-based data-collection, a deeper analysis of each school’s data in their classroom, followed by situating their data into a wider set of data collected at other sites for the same event. This successful model builds both first hand experience of the scientific process of data collection, and the scientific analysis of data to understand the interactions of Earth’s physical systems – atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere. Coupling this with a look at continuously collected sensor data provides a stepped entry to using data to develop an understanding of the Earth processes being studied in the classroom.
Collecting a range of field data broadly engages regular and Advanced Placement levels of Biology, Environmental, Earth Science and Chemistry, and allows students to use the data to develop an understanding of Earth ‘systems’. This program model focuses on an estuary but this same model can be equally successful in a local stream on a smaller scale.