Sixth Grade Science Students Turn the Hudson River Into Their Classroom
Seining nets in hand, sixth grade students waded into the water with determination and focus. Their excursion to the Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park on Monday, September 27, and Tuesday, September 28 was all a part of their experiential curriculum about the Hudson River led by middle school science teacher Dan Russo.
“It’s one thing to study the river in the classroom. Venturing into the river is on a different level,” said Russo, who has been running this trip since he started at Masters 14 years ago. “Students gain an appreciation for the beauty of the river and nature in general.”
Russo calls this collaborative trip “a real highlight of the sixth grade experience.” Middle school teachers Brittany Farrar, Jennifer Rathkopf, Mark Tamucci, Middle School Counselor Gretchen Campbell, and Associate Head of Middle School Lynn Salehi also accompanied the students; the final group of students will wade in the Hudson in mid-October.
Studying marine life up close helped students better understand the environment they had been studying in the classroom. “Seining was so much fun,” Siena Olay ’28 said. “I liked finding the fish we caught in the seining net and looking them up in the Hudson River book we had.”
Classmate Trey Gelman ’28 agreed. “My group found Atlantic silverside, five of them: two small, two medium and one large,” he proudly shared.
This hands-on lesson was an eye-opener for Emilia Maschang ’28 who also “enjoyed releasing the three crabs that we caught. It was nice seeing them go back into their natural habitat.”
But it was Tuesday’s group who celebrated the biggest catch of all: an American eel, hatched in the ocean waters of the Sargasso Sea, two million square miles of warm water in the North Atlantic between the West Indies and the Azores. The eels migrate to the Hudson to mature and will someday return to the Sargasso. “It was only the third eel caught in 14 years!” explained Russo.
Rathkopf will never forget what happened when she heard Russo shout “EEL!” She tried to disperse the crowd but said that “All instructions went out the window with such an exciting catch. Chaos and delight ensued.”