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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:

Plastics & the Food Web

Plastic bottles and bags sit on the end of Gansevoort Peninsula

This lesson explores plastic’s impacts on the Hudson River wildlife and food web. Students will test the density of various plastic items in water to observe where different plastic products may be found in the Hudson River water column. Students will be introduced to several native species of Hudson River wildlife and their feeding behaviors to make connections of how plastics interact with the food web. The activity closes by discussing solutions to fight plastic pollution in local communities, inviting students to take a pledge to be stewards of the Hudson River and the environment.

Download This Week’s Lesson

Theme: Hudson River Estuary; Native Species; Food Web; Pollution; Plastics
Ages: 8–14
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Activity Time: 45–60 minutes

Resources:

Plastic Density Worksheet
Plastic Density Table
Hudson River Animals Packet
Plastic Reduction Pledge Cards
Life in the Pile Fields Poster

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 at Hudson River Park

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 at Hudson River Park

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

This lesson focuses on building solutions to fight climate change impacts. Explore how adaptation methods are used and design structures that are commonly applied in the real world to protect our shorelines!

Pier 32 pile field

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!