By Justine McClennan, Biology/Earth Science Teacher, Bronxville High School, and Kelly Weild, Bronxville High School Student
Jun. 12, 2019: This year, students who were enrolled in the Bronx River Research course at Bronxville High School conducted research on litter in the Village of Bronxville.
With help from the Bronx River Alliance, students completed trash surveys on Palmer Avenue and Parkway Road in which they categorized and tallied litter. Based on the data they collected, students concluded that tobacco products were the number-one source of litter in Bronxville.
Students hypothesized that floatable litter was being transmitted into storm drains by natural causes such as rain and wind, and then discharged to the river. To bring awareness to this issue, students contacted the Village of Bronxville to initiate reforms.
Students provided the village with a map of hotspots of litter and cigarette butts so that the village could strategically buy and place trash cans in town. Additionally, they proposed hosting a storm drain art competition to bring attention to the issue of litter in the town. Students presented their idea to the board of trustees and gained approval to hold the contest with co-sponsorship from the village.
Jim Palmer, Bronxville’s village administrator, describes his interaction with the students and the village saying, “I am most impressed with the entire stormwater educational program undertaken by Justine McClellan and her students that led up to this wonderful artwork.
"Education and outreach to the community is a critical component of the village’s municipal storm sewer system (MS4) program, and this joint effort between the village and school is a model for how communities can be educated on the importance of understanding what enters our waterways and how it gets there.”
The winner of the 2019 Storm Drain Art Competition was Olivia O'Keefe, a sophomore at Bronxville High School. Olivia worked a grand total of eleven hours over the course of two days to complete the design on Pondfield Road in front of Apple Bank. During the course of the painting, which took place during the sidewalk sale, many pedestrians stopped to ask questions about the art project.
Principal Ann Meyer captured the community impact saying, “This project is exactly what we mean when we say we are developing engaged citizens. Our students researched a problem, trash in the Bronx River, developed potential causes, and found a way to act to address the issue. I could not be more proud to see these citizen-scientists make a difference in our local community.”
Sophomore Kelly Weild will continue researching the impact of litter in Bronxville next year, and students hope that the storm drain art competition will become an annual event in Bronxville and inspire other municipalities to host their own as well.
Photo by Brian O’Keefe
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