April 13, 2010 – A dedicated group of Tiverton High School students have been working to improve the health of Narragansett Bay through a hands-on, inspiring, local stewardship project. Under the direction of their teacher, Patricia Busse, the students, all 12th graders in AP Chemistry, have set out to build and install monofilament fishing line recovery bins at fishing piers, boat ramps and Narragansett Bay access points throughout their town. The students became aware of the need for these bins when they learned that monofilament fishing line is non-biodegradable and can remain in the marine environment for over 600 years. The fishing line often entangles wildlife, boat propellers, fishing gear, and divers. In addition, it can be ingested by wildlife causing severe injury or death for a variety of animals including wading birds, osprey, turtles and harbor seals.
With financial support from the Tiverton Power Co. and the help of the Tiverton Harbormaster, Town Council and Mr. Bill Phillips, a teacher at Tiverton High, the students have constructed six uniquely designed PVC pipe containers to encourage anglers to cast their used line in these safe receptacles instead of allowing it to end up – even accidentally – in Narragansett Bay. Over the course of the next few weeks the students will be completing their project by installing the fishing line recovery bins. They will also regularly check the bins and dispose of the used fishing line by cutting it into 6-inch lengths to prevent any future entanglements.
One involved Tiverton high school student says about the project, “I’m really glad to have the opportunity to do science outside the classroom. The practical experience of how such materials like fishing line can affect the environment really drives home all the theory we learn in class. I love this experience.” Another student commented that, “Our work can greatly inspire others in the community to help make our waters and recreational areas better. I am proud to have been a part of this project.”
Ms. Busse’s class became involved in this project after she attended a “Teachers on the Estuary” (TOTE) professional development workshop hosted by the Narragansett Bay Research Reserve, based on Prudence Island, in the summer of 2009. This grant-funded workshop allowed 15 teachers to learn about the environmental issues facing Narragansett Bay. After working alongside researchers and coastal educators for several days during the workshop, the TOTE teachers were challenged to undertake a stewardship project with their students. Several of these stewardship projects are taking off around the state. In West Warwick High School, Christine Kirch and her students have improved paper recycling in their school; in Narragansett High School, Adam Reis has worked with his students to monitor water quality in the Narrow River; and Cranston High School East students are creating and distributing a new environmental newsletter for students and parents with help from their teacher Audrey Kampper.
"This workshop was a wonderful learning experience that I’d like to see more often in this profession." said Kim Martino, a 2009 TOTE participant.
To learn more about this professional development opportunity please visit: www.nbnerr.org/tote.htm
The Narragansett Bay Research Reserve is a state-federal partnership program that works closely with the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. The Teachers on the Estuary workshops are funded through a NOAA Bay-Watershed Education Training (B-WET) grant.
Kristin Van Wagner
Media Relations Coordinator
401-949-5454 ext. 3019
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Phone: (401) 949-5454
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