Youth projects

I have designed and implemented a number of youth science projects intended to involve high school students – especially students of color and first in their families to attend college – to research science.

Math & Fisheries Science Mini-Course (2016)


B Lac, W Valerio, and A Shao

I was startled by how much high school math I used in my early graduate school courses.  For example, matrix multiplication can be used for estimating population viability of polar bears, and the first derivative of a curve is the foundation of maximum sustainable yield in fisheries science. So in collaboration with Kristin Hunter-Thomson and James Stundon, I designed a course with the goal of introducing high school students to ways that the math they’ve learned can be applied in fisheries science, and then taught the course in a calculus course at Mastery Charter Thomas Campus after the AP Calculus exam.  Students learned to plot and analyze length-weight fish data they collected in both Excel and R, and then applied those skills to answer questions using real, heretofore unanalyzed data on brook trout, river herring, black sea bass, and marsh killifish. Read more about the course here.  A curriculum for this course is under development and should be available summer 2017.

Population dynamics of sea nettles in Barnegat Bay (2013)

B Palmer, Q Dunlea, A Grace, M Chang, M Martin, C Leahy

Fourteen students at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) in Manahawkin, NJ, conducted interviews of bay users to determine when sea nettles first became abundant in Barnegat Bay.  The MATES students presented their work at the Save Barnegat Bay 2014 Meeting (Toms River, NJ), and the American Fisheries Society/Mid-Atlantic Chapter 2013 Meeting (Tuckerton, NJ): “Using local ecological knowledge to describe sea nettle population dynamics in Barnegat Bay, NJ” (M. Chang, T. Donovan, Q. Dunlea, A. Grace, C. Leahy, M. Martin, B. Minotti, B. Palmer, S. Porras, R. Whitsitt, Z. Zega, T. Young).  This project is part of a larger project on sea nettles in Barnegat Bay.

Distribution of invasive snakehead (Channa argus) in the Philadelphia region (2013)
snakehead (USGS, Susan Trammel)

Credit: Susan Trammel, USGS

Students at Mastery Charter Thomas in Philadelphia interviewed fishermen to determine the range of the invasive snakehead fish (Channa argus) in the Philadelphia region, and compared those reports to USGS data.  The Mastery students presented their work in a poster at the American Fisheries Society/Mid-Atlantic Chapter 2013 Meeting (Tuckerton, NJ): “LEK vs. USGS: Comparing information from fishermen with government-collected data regarding the range of an invasive species of fish, northern snakehead (Channa argus), in the Philadelphia region” (P. Bowen, E. Chea, D. Do, T. Dy, O. Handoko, K. Koing, B. Lac, A. Lam, Z. Lassiter, E. Lau, J. McKnight, M. Nie, H. Tang, K. Williams, P. Yann and T. Young)

Water quality in FDR Park (Spring 2012)

Freshwater Ecology

D Lewis, N Howe, E Lau, T Mai

Students at Mastery Charter Thomas in Philadelphia worked with Natalie Howe and the Rutgers Pinelands Field Station to analyze water quality in Edgewater Lake in FDR Park in South Philadelphia, for the Fairmount Park Commission.

From Cloudy to Clear: An Investigation into Water Quality at FDR Park, Philadelphia [poster]

Mongolian food webs (Fall 2011)

Students at Mastery Charter Thomas in Philadelphia analyzed stable isotope data from fish in a lake in Mongolia.  They presented their work at the Mongolian Ecological Research Symposium (Tuckerton, NJ, 2012) and the Rutgers University Ecology & Evolution Graduate Student Association Seminar (New Brunswick, NJ, 2011): “Making connections: Examining trophic relationships in a pristine Mongolian lake with high school students in Philadelphia using stable isotope analysis” (T. Young, M. Brickle, M. Clark, O. Handoko, A. Huynh, A. Nguyen, A. Nguyen, A. Lam, D. Lewis, N. Marsico, M. Muhammad, S. Small, K. Wint)

Invasive species assessment in FDR Park, Philadelphia (Spring 2010)
W Hartsfield, A Lee, N Bennett, K Nguyen (clockwise from top left)

W Hartsfield, A Lee, N Bennett, K Nguyen (clockwise from top left)

The 2009-2010 AP Biology class at Mastery Charter Thomas in Philadelphia conducted an assessment for five invasive species of plants in FDR Park in South Philadelphia for the Fairmount Park Commission

“Intruder ALERT! : A Survey for Five Invasive Species at FDR Park” [poster] [report]