HMHS Science Students Participate in Rutgers Symposium

Payton Weiner, Editor

Every year for the AP Environmental final, students complete IPE (Improvement Plan for the Environment) projects. Last year, Claire Decencio, Georgia Nussey, and Maddie Isner, who are now seniors, decided to do theirs about shorebirds. Students in Mr. Smith’s environmental class take a trip to the North Brigantine Beach each year to collect data on the shorebirds. These seniors analyzed all of the data from these trips from 2005 to 2020 for their project. They organized the information from the past 16 years and met with Mr. Smith on Fridays to discuss it. They focused on determining how the mean number of birds changed over the years, what disturbances were the most prominent, and what conservation efforts are necessary and effective. 

Their project started as just something for class, but now it is turning into something bigger. They are participating in the Rutgers Symposium in March where they will display their study and compete against other students. Each senior focused on a certain aspect, abundance, disturbance, and conservation, and individually presented about it to an evaluator for the symposium recently. 

When asked about what they wanted their biggest takeaway to be from their project, the seniors emphasized the idea of conservation. Analyzing the data allowed them to understand what efforts are most important and what would be most beneficial for preserving the habitats of the shorebirds. For example, they noticed that from the months of July to October there are a lot of moving vehicles. Limiting the number of vehicles could help stop the disturbances. The seniors also noticed while they were on their trips that the beaches are becoming eroded and shorter. They emphasized the idea that the beaches need to be preserved and that there should be certain areas of the beach where people are not allowed to go. Finally, they noted the importance of protecting these shorebirds at Brigantine because it is a vital stopover habitat for them during their migration where they feed and rest.

Wish these seniors luck as they compete at the symposium and remember to be mindful of where you walk on the beach!