Water Conference Showcases Research and Presentation Skills

2019 Water Conference

Students from The Bridge Golf Foundation and the Eagle Academy participated in this year’s Water Conference, which featured scientific research projects and presentations.

One of our Foundation’s guiding principles is that golf teaches our young men skills — judgment, perseverance, confidence, honesty, respect, responsibility, courtesy and more — that they can apply to all parts of their lives.

Nowhere is this synergy more apparent than in our scientific focus on water, which culminated this year with our Water Conference at the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem on April 6. Our students and their Eagle Academy peers had to apply all of these skills and more to create their group research projects and present them to a panel of judges as well as to their families and classmates.

The conference was part of our In-Schools Program, in which STEM and golf instructors from The Bridge Golf Foundation work on site with Eagle Academy students and faculty. The program is funded by a grant from the Heisman Trophy Fund for Youth Development and led by Nancy Degnan, a senior advisor for education at the Columbia Water Center, and Oscar Flores, director of academics for the Foundation, in partnership with the science and math teachers of the Eagle Academy of Harlem and the Eagle Academy of Southeast Queens.

Student groups presented their research findings to a panel of judges that included graduate students from CUNY and the Columbia Water Center and Gregg Stanley, superintendent at The Bridge in Bridgehampton.

First prize went to a team from Eagle Queens for their project, “Superstorms, Floods and Community Resilience: The Case of Far Rockaway.” This team did a great job of using sophisticated data from NOAA, NASA, the Columbia Water Center, and nyc.gov (among others). They also conducted interviews with Far Rockaway residents and drew upon their own experiences and hardships caused by the storm to make some fascinating observations about the connection between personal resilience and broader, community-wide resilience.

Second prize went to a team from Eagle Harlem for their presentation, “Should We Drink This Water?” This project focused on water infrastructure in New York City, including aging pipes and contaminated water in public housing buildings; the New York City Watershed; and the role of city and governmental agencies in providing clean water. Their research did a great job of combining STEM skills with ELA research skills, including the use of appropriate sources and good research questions.

A project titled “What the Floc?” from a team of Eagle Harlem chemistry students that included two Foundation students — Michael Alameda and Jaden Jackson — took third prize. This was a very sophisticated project that studied flocculants, or “flocs,” which are used in water treatment to settle out potentially harmful solids. The team researched the process, made calculations, and came up with new and innovative ways of treating water, including through mycoremediation, the use of fungi (mushrooms) to clean the environment.

Two teams made up entirely of Foundation middle school students also made impressive presentations. Elijah Opoku, Jorge Alacantara, Joshua Arthur and Milo Brown came in fourth with “Ocean Acidification: How Climate Change Affects the Ocean,” and Nazir Randall, Darnell Wilkins, Maddox Brown, Stephon Husbands and Braylan Stewart came in fifth with “What’s Super Cool About Super Cooled Water?” These groups were mostly new to scientific research but worked hard to master the basics — identifying reputable sources, citing sources properly, paraphrasing, and creating scientific posters. They also worked hard to fine-tune their teamwork and presentation skills, and they learned a lot about science, water, and the environment along the way.

“Human beings are responsible for climate change,” Opoku said. “We are also responsible for ocean acidification. We have to find solutions.”

“You can do lots of things with supercooled water — from making slushies to transporting organs for transplant,” Wilkins said. “That’s what makes it cool.”

The Water Conference was a great day for our Foundation and Eagle Academy. The student presentations were creative, well-researched, and insightful, and once again tied our daily focus on golf and life skills into STEM learning.