School: Lehman Alternative Community School
Project Title: Climate Change and Cayuga Lake
Classes: Geometry, Probability and Statistics
Project: Students in Chris Martin’s math classes worked with the Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom to collect data relative to how the lake’s conditions are affected by climate change. Students boarded the boat to practice some of the concepts they’d learned in class during the year, allowing them to see the real-world application of mathematics and its connections to current issues.
Students measured the health of the lake through plankton counts, using complex volume calculations to determine plankton levels. Typically, the plankton in a sample settles to the bottom, but the students’ sample didn’t, something Martin said may be attributable to unseasonably warm weather at the time. The class also checked the water’s turbidity and other conditions. Students practiced problem-solving skills, like breaking a large problem into simpler steps to make it more manageable, and learned how to reconstruct and reverse-engineer data sets after some of their figures were accidentally erased.
In future years, the class will develop data sets to track lake conditions from year to year and make predictions about the lake’s health.