This sums up what got us started from an interview- I just did with the City of Jersey City “Our projects are based around a community issue, almost always environmental, and related to something with water that's involving STEM activities: science, technology, engineering and math. Our goals are to provide a team environment for students engaged in STEM that often do not fit the typical athletic type and to let them explore, engage, and learn in nature in our densely populated city, that allows children very little access to nature at their own houses, neighborhoods, and schools.
Project Reservoir started about 6 years ago. We all started working together and going to a local abandoned municipal reservoir. That's where it started: a classroom of kids, our highest achievers. We entered the Disney Planet Challenge. We were state champs the first year. The next year, we won it. So, the kids got a trip to Disney Land.
It snowballed from there. We started looking into what other types of science competitions we could enter. We came up with the idea to form teams. So Project Reservoir is now team-based. We've been pretty successful. We've won some sort of national award every year. Our most recent award was the EPA Presidential Environmental Youth award for Region 2 last year.
Project Reservoir is outside of the curriculum. It's an enrichment program. A lot of the students are getting ready to go to high school. That's when they need to make some decision on a career path. The reservoir is our learning lab.
The “Stormies” STEM team is designing a storm drain filter that uses hydrophobic materials that can filter water, doesn't impede flow, but can still capture motor oils and any type of petroleum products. Our plastics team is also designing a filter system for washing machines. Plastic microfibers from washing machines get into the ocean and can harm fish. A big part of our project for each team is also maintaining social media, a website and public outreach by attending community events (farmers market at local park, concerts in park, community celebrations with a booth, and through educational activities for the public at the reservoir.
We have a good group of 4 teachers. We are a team as well. It’s Tuesdays and Thursdays and some Saturdays. There’s 62 students presently. Eight teams. We had well over 100 students apply this year.
Some of our science projects don’t just stop in June, especially when you have living plants and animals. So it’s a big sharing effort to keep the project going." In addition we fund our teams by getting community sponsors just as a baseball team gets sponsors for little league. We attend local events at our city parks, that are often walking distance from our school. This is a key factor for community engagement in that students are able to get there on their own-an advantage of living in a densely populated city-things are close by and often walking distance.