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All aboard! IB Geography sets sail on the Hudson

All Aboard! For the second year, EF Academy Geography students set sail for the day on the Clearwater – a forty foot sailboat on the majestic and magnificent Hudson River, just minutes from EF Academy’s campus in New York. 40 students from grades 10, 11 and 12 attended the trip to collect data for the IB’s Internal Assessment (IA) and to learn about the environment surrounding our campus.

After all students partook in raising the sail of the ship at the 79thStreet Pier in New York City, the trip began up the river to see the majestic views of the trees, cliffs and hills that surround one of the widest rivers in the United States. The students were also able to see the location where the “Miracle on the Hudson” emergency landing of a US Airways flight on January 15, 2009 – now featured in the feature film “Sully” starring Tom Hanks. After getting out onto the water, the students collected water samples at several different points in the river and were able to compare the results.

IB Geography teacher Rosalie Frison organized the trip for the second straight year to encourage students to complete their IA looking at local natural resources. The IB curriculum includes a focus on local issues – and members of her class will be conducting studies on the environment of the Hudson River, Bronx River and local Kensico Reservoir this year. One of the questions she asks her class to consider is, “Are water problems strictly for developing nations?” Many of her students find water security issues exist in many places around the world, including here in the United States. The class also speaks about the impact of natural disasters on communities – such as “Hurricane Matthew” which has recently worked its way through Caribbean nations and the Southeast United States.

IBY2 student Xiang Zhuang reflected on his experience on the ship:

“This past Tuesday, I went to the Hudson River for data collection with my IB Geography class and Mrs. Frison. There were five different education sessions about the Hudson River taking place on the sail boat. At the first session, a sailor taught us about the different types of fish in the Hudson River. At the second session I learned how to steer the boat. At the third session we studied the depth of the Hudson River which is 25 to 55 feet. In the fourth session we learned about pollution and the impact of Indian Point on the Hudson. At the last session, the sailors took us to the living quarters on the boat. Although it was very small, I was surprised to learn that thirteen people lived there. That’s amazing! This was my Hudson River experience and I will be able to include what I learned in my IA.”

The trip was led by 13 crew members of the Clearwater. During the excursion, many environmental issues were discussed, including the impact of the Indian River nuclear power plant which is located north of New York City along the Hudson River. The students also were able to catch fish and analyze their health and home in the river. Many students were surprised by the results – the water in the Hudson River continues to improve. With many barges and ships passing through the river each day, the students were surprised how clean the water was. Over the past several decades, environmental and conservation efforts have certainly paid off.

Clearwater was founded by Pete Seeger, legendary musician, singer, songwriter, folklorist, activist, environmentalist, and peace advocate, and one of the most influential people of the twentieth century. In 1966, in despair over the pollution of his beloved Hudson River, Seeger announced plans to “build a boat to save the river.”  At the time, the Hudson was rank with raw sewage, toxic chemicals and oil pollution; fish had disappeared over many miles of its length. Seeger, along with many other concerned individuals, believed a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it. Inspired by that vision, the organization began with the launch of the sloop Clearwater in 1969 —a majestic 106-foot long replica vessel.

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