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Science Site Analysis: A Mountain School Project

By Kendall Sommers, V Form

Science Site Analysis: A Mountain School Project

Student Note: This fall, I took a semester off from St.Mark’s and attended a semester school in Vershire, Vermont called The Mountain School. It’s a school focused on outdoor education and connection. We had two required courses, English and Environmental Science. After each unit in e-sci, we would have a final reflection where we wrote chapters on all the topics we had covered. The point of this project was to have a book at the end of the course containing all the content we had learned. Included below is my 3rd chapter, my science site. This unit was a little different from the others; we picked a place in the woods on campus and analyzed it over the course of the fall months. The idea of this project was to learn to be independently observant and develop our scientific analytical skills. Also, it connects to the school’s mission statement regarding building a connection to a place. The project below included my description of my site, my map and timeline I created, and my hypothesis regarding the history of the site.

Chapter 3: Science Site Analysis

Directions: To get to my center point you must first sign out on the board with a faculty member (rule number 2!) and then begin walking on the inner loop clockwise. Continue along the loop until you reach Siberia, then take a left onto the trail leading up to pine top. Here, the grass will be a bit taller and you will see a tree on the left of the path with a really long branch that turns up at a right angle. Now, walk uphill on this path until you reach another path going off to the right. Follow this path downhill for about 60 paces until you reach my site’s center point! You will know you have arrived if the trees around you are mainly coppiced white pines and to your right (south west) there is a clearer section of the woods with no canopy, but filled with ferns. The site is on a hill facing the SE, so check your compass. Also, far to the left you will see the canopy begin to change, but most of the area around you should be filled with those big coppiced white pines, white ash trees, and sugar maples. Are you there? Wonderful! There is so much more at my site to discover, let’s dive in!

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How serious is air pollution in worsening the effects and spread of COVID-19?

By Ashley Battiata, VI Form

How serious is air pollution in worsening the effects and spread of COVID-19?

Student Note: For the final two weeks of Remote Learning in Advanced Environmental Science, I chose to learn more about COVID-19. The prompt was broad; therefore, I specifically focused on how air pollution and COVID-19 are related. For example, does air pollution spread COVID-19 faster, and does it worsen the effects of the pandemic? Or do these two environmental problems not impact each other at all? While researching, I expanded into another topic that most people weren’t talking about: how both air pollution and COVID-19 are affecting a specific demographic.  

A very specific type of air pollution called fine particulate matter or (PM2.5)  is associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 in the United States. PM2.5 is associated with burning things, such as coal in a power plant or gasoline in one’s car. It is dangerous because of how microscopic the matter is, specifically 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which gets into the lungs and bloodstream and causes damage to our health.The smaller the matter is in diameter, the easier it is to penetrate into the lungs and bloodstream and to get past airways designed to cough out irritants. This leads to future problems such as asthma, heart attacks, and other chronic diseases.  According to a Harvard study, an increase of only “1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 mortality rate,” which proves that there is a relationship between exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality rates. 

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Bee Keeping & Legitimately Fun Facts About Bees!

By Reily Scott, III Form

Bee Keeping & Legitimately Fun Facts About Bees!

Ever since kindergarten, I have been beekeeping with my mother, but we aren’t the first in our family. Our beekeeping tradition goes back four generations to my great-grandmother Charlotte Ames, but I am the first male beekeeper in my family. My sister, on the other hand, does not want to involve herself with bugs in any way. She will go days without using her bathroom if there is a ladybug somewhere inside.

 

I  have loved bugs all my life. When I was three or four years old, I would find stinkbugs, because my old house had an abundance of them, and stuff them in my matchbox cars and drive them around town. Though I couldn’t get my hands on bees to put them in cars, I still loved them anyway. (more…)

The West Nile Virus: The Minor Zoonotic Problem Without A Major Solution

By Anuoluwa Akibu, Jack Griffin, Sierra Petties, & Ben West, III Form; with mentors Ben Robb, V Form & Blaine Duffy, VI Form

The West Nile Virus: The Minor Zoonotic Problem Without A Major Solution

Abstract

In the information below, you will be able to take away a full understanding on the West Nile virus, and how it is transmitted zoonotically. West Nile virus (WNV) is a pathogen, specifically a flavivirus, and it is found in arthropods. West Nile virus infections are most common in temperate areas, between late summer and early fall, when mosquito activity is at it’s peak. Although many people become infected with WNV most people do not show symptoms. The few who do, mostly have minor symptoms like fever and headache. One percent of the people infected with the virus develop lethal symptoms that require immediate medical assistance. Most cases of West Nile virus come from mosquito bites. The mosquitoes infect humans and other animals which are called dead end hosts. Dead-end hosts cannot pass the disease on to another host. Birds however are different because they are amplifier hosts. That means they continue to spread the disease to mosquitoes have not received the virus yet. The only known treatment to West Nile virus at the moment is pain killers because scientists are still figuring out a solution. There are cures for animals and some in development for humans. There isn’t a practical solution to West Nile virus, but there have been prevention methods created. The main focus for many groups worldwide is of the disease by managing the mosquito population and observing the bird population to restrict the further spreading of the disease. Researcher(s): All;  Editor(s): All (more…)

Carbon Dioxide vs. The Ocean

By Laura Drepanos, IV Form

Carbon Dioxide vs. The Ocean: What I learned at the High School Marine Science Symposium

Are the ocean’s problems really my problems?

This was the only question going through my head as I pulled up to front circle two days before March break at 6:50 in the morning.

The short answer: yes.

When Ms. Lohwater announced at school meeting that there was an opportunity to go to the High School Marine Science Symposium (HSMSS) at Northeastern University, I immediately took it. I have always loved learning about the ocean and visiting the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institution since I was young. Missing a day of classes for this at the end of the academic window required an overwhelming amount of planning ahead: I had to take tests on my own time and finish all of my assignments. However, I left the HSMSS with many takeaways that made it all worth it.

My first takeaway: Sea Acidification is very real. (more…)

Competing in the FIRST Robotics Challenge

By Kate Sotir, VI Form

Competing in the FIRST Robotics Challenge

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Working in the basement level of the STEM building, using lots of power tools, and occasionally throwing out words like “kickoff,” “drivetrain,” or “STEAMworks,” we are FIRST team 3566, also known as Gone Fishin’.

Gone Fishin’ competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” The robotics competition, open to any high school student, was created in order to promote the STEM fields and offer a competitive yet collaborative atmosphere for robotics. In the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), teams are given a challenge, in the form of a game, and then have six weeks to build a 120 pound, $10,000 robot to meet this challenge. After those six weeks are up, teams compete in various regional events. The ultimate goal is to go to the world championship, held in St. Louis, where around 800 teams gather to play the game. (more…)