The New York Restoration Project restores, develops and maintains parks in northern Manhattan and in the South Bronx. The Harlem River Aquatics Program incorporates a wide range of hands-on educational activities designed to increase students understanding of the environmental issues facing the Harlem River and the larger Hudson River Estuary. The Harlem River Aquatics Program meets in weekly, two-hour activity sessions throughout the school year and summer months. Their curriculum features direct observation of and interaction with the river at Swindler Cove Park and its neighboring salt marshes at Sherman Creek. The Hudson River Estuary health is assessed through discussions of biodiversity, habitat loss and restoration, and community stewardship. Through hands-on investigations, students classify local wildlife and vegetation, measure water quality, and learn about the watershed.
Students learned to assess pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and inorganic nitrogen, as important indicators of ecosystem health. They received instruction in the use of seining nets, a secchi disk, and a Leaf Pack, which contains the apparatus necessary for collecting, sorting, and identifying aquatic macro invertebrates, also valuable indicators of water quality. Students also inspected cages of oysters suspended in the Harlem River to monitor the progress, identify and remove parasites, and record the growth of oysters and other marine life in their journals. Students also learned about the rich natural and social history of the Harlem River, as well as lessons in marine science such as tides, currents, and wetland habitats.