Eugene Auer Elementary School  
New York Times Features Eugene Auer Elementary School's Black Squirrel Project

On February 24, 2008, The New York Times featured the school's "Black Squirrel" project. To read the full article, use this link: Students Help Track Black Squirrels


 

Fifth Grade Students Perform Scientific Research Project

Students in April Mindlin's and Michele Miller's Fifth Grade classes at Eugene Auer Elementary School are performing environmental monitoring of the Robert J. Henke Memorial Nature Preserve in Lake Grove. Their classes are part of the OSSP (Open SPace Stewardship Program) sponsored by Brookhaven National Lab.

Students are taking species counts and habitat censuses for the mutated eastern gray squirrel. Students have reached out to the entire Eugene Auer COmmunity by asking everyone to submit their sightings of the black squirrel. The data is then linked to a geographical information system via GPS points on the ARC View GIS system and Google Earth Plus.

Students are also taking soil and air temperature readings on a monthly basis. They are also collecting data on soil ph, leaf litter, and leaf moisture content. Students will be submitting their data directly to scientists at BNL utilizing the OSSP web site.

Students are investigating the evolution of the melanistic eastern gray squirrel which has a dusky black coat that is often the result of a genetic mutation or can be linked to abnormal temperature changes.

We plan on doing this research study as a longitudinal study. We would like to mark the trees with the squirrels' nests this year and compare them to next year's squirrel habitats. We would like to monitor the population of this mutated segment of the species to see if there are increases or decreases over time. We would also like to see if their population is having an impact on the gray squirrel population. We have had anecdotal information from volunteers that have noted hybrid colorations in some squirrels they have observed. We have also noted an increased timidity in the black squirrel population. They have been observed in nests as well as hollowed out holes in trees.

Henry David Thoreau inspires essays about student field experiences

Ms. Miller's 5th grade class's assignment was to choose a Henry David Thoreau quote and use it as a springboard to write about their field experiences.The quotes the students could select from were:

  • "If I am not I, who will be?"
  • "The world is like a canvas to our imagination."
  • "Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wilderness... we can never have enough nature."
  • "In short, all good things are wild and free."
  • "We are as much as we see. Faith is sight and knowledge."
  • "A town is saved, not more by the righteous man in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it."
  • "I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which corn grows."
  • "I seek acquaintance with nature, to know her moods and manners."
Thomas' writing Ivan's writing Amanda's writing
Samantha's writing Marissa's writing Ryan's writing
Kristan's writing Jessica's writing Alexa's writing
Ian's writing Franike's writing Nicholas' writing
Mike's writing Bobby's writing  

ossp logo
OSSP ACTIVITY REPORT

Location:
Robert J. Henke 
Date:
April 21, 2009 
OSSP Representative(s):
Lauren Meigel, Kyle Grolz, Luke Buzaid, Magen Wolmart, Rebecca Garrant, Harris Rehman,  
Teacher(s):
Michele Miller, Donna Noesi, Mike D\'Egidio 
School District:
Middle County Central School District 
Class Type:
5th grade 
# of Participating Students:
42 
Activities Performed / Monitoring Done:

We tested the soil for potassium,nitrogen,pH.Potassium was k4. Nitrogen was N1. The pH was 6.5(slighty acidic.) The soil temperature was 16 degrees celsius at a 10 cm. At 5 cm.depth it was 21 degrees celsius. The air temperature was 20 degrees celsius. Cloud cover was 100% at 9:55 am. The leaf litter was 4 inch. (10 cm.). Some of our observations were many specimens of moss, fungi growing on the tree trunks, soil color was 10yr4/6, we observed termites and carpenter ants under a rotted tree trunk, we saw spider webs on the leaf level surface,

 
Additional Notes:

Will be testing water samples taken from rain water puddles and we will update you on rain accumulation for 4/21. Also solar data to follow.

 

ossp logo OSSP ACTIVITY REPORT

Location:
Caleb Smith Preserve 
Date:
4/15/09 
OSSP Representative(s):
Mrs. Mindlin 
Teacher(s):
Ms. Fox  
School District:
MCCSD 
Class Type:
5th grade 
# of Participating Students:
48 
Activities Performed / Monitoring Done:

We placed digital trackers on 2 turtles. We recorded the information on morphometric data sheets, that included weight and other specific characteristics for each turtle. Each turtle received a transmitter E-110 and E-111. This way we can dial in and locate them on 4/30. We tested the water. Dissolved oxygen-8ppm Ph -6.5 Air temp -50 degrees F Turbidity - 0 JTU We tested the water at the vernal pond. This is the location where we released both turtles. Ranger Powers stated this is a great location because they will eat tadpoles and need water. Cooridinates: N40 degress51.228 W 073 degrees 13.613 It was cloudy and cool.

 
Additional Notes:

We learned about vernal ponds and watched a slide show about the Terepene carolina (Eastern Box Turtle) and how they are impacted by over development, predators, and man. We also observed wood frog tadpoles, water fleas, and spring tails. The HS research students were helpful in measuring, and holding the turtles while placing the transmitters on them.The students also conducted interviews with eachother.

 

ossp logo OSSP ACTIVITY REPORT

Location:
Caleb Smith Preserve 
Date:
5/7/09 
OSSP Representative(s):
Mrs. Mindlin 
Teacher(s):
Ms. Fox, Mrs. Mindlin  
School District:
MCCSD 
Class Type:
5th grade 
# of Participating Students:
45
Activities Performed / Monitoring Done:

We tested the water at Willow Pond. Air Temperature 62F/18C Water Temperature 55F/15C Dissolved Oxygen 4ppm Turbidity 0 JTU PH 7.0
Vernal Pond- Water Temperature 59F/17C Air Temperature 62F/18C Dissolved Oxygen 4PPM Ph 6.0 Turbity 0 JTU

 
Additional Notes:

We were unsuccessful in catching a frog at the vernal pond, but did see a bullfrog Rana-catesbeiana.

 

ossp logo OSSP ACTIVITY REPORT

Location:
Caleb Smith Preserve 
Date:
5/21/09 
OSSP Representative(s):
Mrs. Mindlin 
Teacher(s):
Ms. Fox, Mrs. Mindlin  
School District:
MCCSD 
Class Type:
5th grade 
# of Participating Students:
45 
Activities Performed / Monitoring Done:

Students conducted water samples at Willow Pond. Air Temperature-70 F/ 23C Turbidity 0 JTU Water Temperature- 62 F/ 20C DO 4ppm PH 7.0
Vernal Pond Air Temperature 70 F/ 23 C Turbidity 0 JTU Water Temperature 62 F/ 20 C DO 4PPM PH 6.5

 
Additional Notes:

We found Eastern box turtle E-111 with a tracker, he gained 6.1 grams and now weighs 140.5 grams. We were successful in catching 1 frog which was a green frog(Rana calmitans). We then swabbed this frog for chytrid. We saw many tadpoles at Vernal pond but only a few at Willow pond. We believe these are woodfrog tadpoles.

 

ossp logo OSSP ACTIVITY REPORT

Location:
Caleb Smith Preserve 
Date:
1/27/10 
OSSP Representative(s):
Mrs. Mindlin 
Teacher(s):
Mrs. Mindlin  
School District:
MCCSD 
Class Type:
5th grade 
# of Participating Students:
25 
Activities Performed / Monitoring Done:

Students performed water tests at Willow Pond. Coordinates: N 40 degrees 51.167 W 073 degrees 13.623 Water test results as follows:

Air Temp 48 F 8C, Turbidity 0 JTU

Water Temperature 45F 5C, DO 4ppm, Saturation level 32%, PH 6

Additional Notes:

BOCES Outdoor Education Coordinator spoke with students about the Vernal/Willow Ponds. He discussed migrating water fowl. Students noted raccoon and possible fox tracks near Passapauk Creek. There was quite a bit of garbage in and near the creek, Students wrote letters to John J. Flanagan about pollution issues and about our amphibian studies. Students are working on a digital portfolio for submission to Disney Planet Challenge. They are learning about the global amphibian crisis and are working to make others aware. Students recently created a mural of Willow Pond ecosystem in our school hallway showing all the indigeneous species that live in and near Willow Pond.

 

ossp logo OSSP ACTIVITY REPORT

Location:
Caleb Smith Preserve 
Date:
3/16/2010
OSSP Representative(s):
Mrs. Mindlin 
Teacher(s):
Mrs. Mindlin  
School District:
MCCSD 
Class Type:
General Education
# of Participating Students:
25 
Activities Performed / Monitoring Done:

We started by testing the water at the Vernal Pond. Then we compared the results. The DO level was 4ppm, the PH level was 6, the turbidity was 40jtu, the air temp was 12c and the water was 5c.

Additional Notes:

While we were there we heard wood frogs. then we walked to Willow Pond and tested there while another group of 4 kids went frogging. The DO was 0ppm, the PH was 7, the turbidity was 0jtu, the air temp was 19c and the water temp was 10c. the 4 kids who went frogging caught 1 wood frog and we swabbed it and are sending the swab to Yale for PCR(chytrid)test.

 

ossp logo OSSP ACTIVITY REPORT

Location:
Caleb Smith Preserve 
Date:
4/9/2010
OSSP Representative(s):
Mrs. Mindlin 
Teacher(s):
Mrs. Mindlin  
School District:
MCCSD 
Class Type:
General Education, 5th grade 
# of Participating Students:
25 
Activities Performed / Monitoring Done:

We went to the outdoor lab and learned about macro invertebrates which are environmental indicators to the health of the ecosystem. We found several sensitive invertebrates that live in Willow pond. We hiked to the Vernal pond we gathered soil samples and measured leaf litter depth which was 5 centimeters. We tested the water ph 6,turbidity 40 JTU, dissolved oxygen was 8. The air temp 17c water temp 10c. We did not hear wood frog calls and only had 1-2 sightings.

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