Nov 24, 2020

STEAM Challenge to Protect Water Quality at Long Island Schools

The Long Island Regional Planning Council launched a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) challenge for students to improve water quality.

water quality

The Long Island Regional Planning Council (LIRPC) has launched a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) challenge for students. 

This challenge aims to help address the region’s nitrogen pollution problems, reported The Island Now News. The challenge is perfect for students working collaboratively in-person or remotely, enabling anyone to participate despite the pandemic.

The second-annual STEAM challenge is also known as the Long Island Water Quality Challenge, which wants to empower middle and high school students to design projects that can reduce nitrogen pollution on their school grounds. 

The challenge was created by Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan (LINAP) and is part of a multi-year effort to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering Long Island ground and surface waters, reported The Island Now News. LINAP is overseen by LIRPC, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Nitrogen is the leading cause of water quality deterioration in Long Island’s estuaries, according to NYS DEC. This threatens the ecosystem’s health as well as the region’s economic well-being. The nitrogen also contaminates the groundwater, which is the sole source of Long Island’s drinking water supply.

In Nassau and Suffolk counties specifically, excess nitrogen from aging residential septic systems, fertilizer, storm water runoff, and other sources has deteriorated the quality of surface and groundwater.

“Our goal is to connect students, teachers and their communities with LINAP’s efforts to control nitrogen pollution loads impacting our waters,” said John Cameron, LIRPC Chair. “The Council recognizes the need for greater interaction between professionals engaged in STEAM pursuits and our schools to generate interest and excitement about project learning and STEAM careers.”

The schools will choose one of two categories to examine: “Low-Input Landscaping on School Grounds” and “Stormwater Treatment on School Grounds.”

A panel of experts will evaluate the teams and there will be an awards ceremony for the top projects and teams. According to the Island Now News, any state accredited educational institution in Nassau and Suffolk counties serving students in grades 6-12 is eligible.

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