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STEM Activity of the Week

Hudson River Park’s STEM Activity of the Week offers free online resources for students and families to learn about the Hudson River. With many learning opportunities moving to online and virtual platforms, we have started this series to share a hands-on activity that is a fun and engaging way to connect with the Hudson River.

Check back weekly for new lessons focused on Hudson River ecology, Park research and sustainability, and be sure to check out our previous activities.

STEM Activity of the Week:

Build Your Own Plankton

Did you know that the greenish hue of the Hudson River Estuary is an indicator of health rather than toxicity? Microscopic plants and animals, called plankton, give the River this color. Plankton are the foundation of the Hudson River food web; they provide food and oxygen to a variety of organisms. In this lesson, students will learn about two categories of plankton–– phytoplankton and zooplankton––  and discover where in the Hudson River these tiny organisms are most abundant, and build their own plankton using common household items.

plankton outlines from the microscope

Build Your Own Plankton Lesson

Themes: Plankton, Phytoplankton and Zooplankton, Buoyancy, Food Web, Water Quality
Ages: 8-14
Prep Time: 5 min
Activity Time: 30-40 min


Construye tu propio Plancton

¿Sabías que el tono verde del estuario del río Hudson es un indicador de buena salud y no de suciedad? Plantas y animales microscópicos, llamados Plancton, le dan este color al río. El Plancton es la base de la red alimentaria del río Hudson, porque provee alimento y oxígeno a una variedad de organismos. En esta lección, los estudiantes aprenderán sobre dos categorías de plancton- fitoplancton y zooplancton- y descubrirán en qué parte del río Hudson son más abundantes estos pequeños organismos, y construirán su propio plancton usando artículos domésticos comunes.

Construye tu propia lección de Plancton

Tema: Plancton, Fitoplancton y Zooplancton; Flotación, Red Alimentaria, Calidad del Agua
Edad: 8-14 años.
Tiempo de preparación: 5 minutos
Tiempo de la actividad: 30-40 minutos


Previous STEM Activities

A red breasted robin pulls a worm from the ground

This lesson teaches students to identify the physical features that define birds.

A northern flicker bird sits among the red flowers

Hudson River Park provides important habitat to over 100 species of birds that fly through the Park every year!

A bunch of ducklings brown and gold swim in the river

There are over 100 species of birds that fly through the park every year, so it is a big job trying to keep track of them all and in this lesson, we’re asking for your help!

A painting of Bob the Blob, a fish lesson for the STEM Activities

Did you know that Hudson River Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary provides essential habitat for more than 70 species of fish?

A tin can, egg, two glass mason jars and measuring cups

New York City is right in the middle of an environment we call the Hudson River Estuary.

plankton outlines from the microscope

Did you know that the greenish hue of the Hudson River Estuary is an indicator of health rather than toxicity?

Kids creating their own water filter

Students in this lesson trial various materials in finding the right combination in order to filter artificial pollution using simple household items.

An orange and black monarch butterfly sits on an orange flower

This lesson breaks down the butterfly pollination process, inviting students to observe how butterflies move pollen between plants.

A bluefish sits beings measured

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a marine scientist?

Holding a fish called Grubby with its spike like fins

Now that we’re familiar with our fish ecology survey, it is time for you to take on the role of a Hudson River Park scientist once again!

A fish with its mouth wide open in the palm of someones hand

The Hudson River Estuary is a biodiverse habitat in NYC and is home to many species of fish!

Four black and orange monarch butterflies perch on purple flowers

Hudson River Park is home to a variety of butterflies within its four miles of lush plant beds and gardens.

Photo of bacterial matter in a circle dish

This lesson teaches students about bacteria using an experiment to detect bacteria in their environment.

A big lipped oyster toadfish stares at the visitors in its tank

Oyster toadfish live in Hudson River Park’s estuarine sanctuary, croak like toads despite not having vocal organs, and have powerful jaws strong enough to chomp through hard shells.

A coil image of Phytoplankton seen through a microscope

Plankton are the foundation of the Hudson River food web and provide oxygen to a variety of organisms in the River.

Plastic bottles and bags sit on the end of Gansevoort Peninsula

This lesson explores plastic’s impacts on Hudson River wildlife and food web.

A group of volunteers clean up the plastic that was thrown on the Gansevoort Peninsula

This lesson demonstrates how plastics end up in the Hudson River and prompts students to investigate plastic use in their daily lives.

Students look at their created water experiment

One of the unique aspects of Hudson River Park is that it is 400 acres of water – the Hudson River! To protect these waters, HRPK scientists pay close attention to environmental conditions and regularly monitor the River. You can check out real-time updates on Hudson River conditions through the Hudson River ...

Hudson River

This lesson demonstrates that Earth’s water is all connected and that the water cycle guarantees this.

A kid with a puppet

Create your own Wildlife Puppet and watch your critters come to life!