At the beginning of the school year teachers across many disciplines discussed doing an interdisciplinary project with the freshmen. Science department chair, Colleen Brosnan took the lead in the project. Ms. Brosnan and other teachers including history teacher, Grace Mason decided to do the project on the Bronx River to bring a community aspect to the showcase. Celia Sosa, our High School Director remarked on how The Bronx River Project showed the impact of community partnerships and how the showcase made students grapple with and apply relevant concepts to their studies. She added: “Our students produced excellent work as a result.” Joe Appel, our High School Director of Academic Programs also added that the symposium set a tremendous precedent for what rigorous interdisciplinary learning can look like at Hyde. He said: “I was most impressed by how the students were able to discuss environmental issues through the lenses of science, history, and English.”
One of my goals for earth science this year was to try to bring learning outside of the classroom and to show how everything students are learning is interconnected.
Each floor of the school featured projects from different disciplines. On one floor we had History projects that featured the history of the Bronx River and how its resources have been used. For the Science project floor, we showcased how data was collected from the Bronx River to determine its water quality over time. We went to the river four different times and partnered with Rocking the Boat, a nonprofit that encourages youth development through environmental science, to get the most accurate quality testing results we could. The English floor consisted of projects that explored what would happen if the full effects of climate change are realized. They read dystopian literature on the subject and combined that to their research. Students also coordinated a carnival in the gym! My favorite projects were the ones where students actually made recommendations on how they could improve the quality of the Bronx River. I was particularly impressed by Oslisa Encarnacion and Henderlis Feliz’s project. They didn’t just collect data; rather they collected data, analyzed it, thought carefully about what it meant, and then generated recommendations based on that data for their community. Oslisa and Henderlis even brought in a sample of permeable concrete and explained how it works and how we could use it at Hyde.
I think the Freshmen Symposium project pushes freshmen to be better public speakers and to be more invested in their work. The interdisciplinary aspect was also really special because it shows students the commonality in all that they are learning.