Fishers Island School Contributes to Marine Science

by Jane Ahrens
Fishers Island School students Jack Morrissey, Fred Toldo, and Sam Walz work on biorock in West Harbor. Photo c/o C.Giles

Hands-on, minds-on science investigations are the foundation of the Fishers Island science curriculum, and teacher Carol Giles utilizes the island’s natural environment as her students’ laboratory. She knows that learning is most powerful when students engage in authentic, real-world research.

Which is precisely why our school accepted the challenge of working with Dr. Thomas J.F. Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance and Coordinator of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Small Island Developing States Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies and Rand Weeks, Electrical Designer/Engineer/Installer, to determine if we could develop oyster reef using the Biorock process on Fishers Island.

Biorock Technology “was originally developed by marine scientists Thomas Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz. The Biorock process involves passing an electrical current through a metal frame placed on the seabed. The process is simply the electrolysis of seawater, whereby low voltage electricity is used to promote the deposition of calcium carbonate and other minerals, which build upon the surface of the metal.” (Biorock…The Future of Reef Restoration, Matthew Oldfield, Zublu Insights, Sept. 2017)

Our students were involved in every step of the research, from the initial building of the geodesic domes to monitoring them on a regular basis. FIS graduates Thad Allen and Charles Snyder used the research as the basis of an entry to the CT science fair in their senior year. Mrs. Giles forwarded their report to Dr. Goreau who enthusiastically proclaimed that “The data is very important because it clearly documents the effects of the Biorock process on oyster growth as a function of distance for the first time.”

Dr. Goreau has already shared his analysis of the Fishers Island data (see attached article) with his international colleagues of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, indicating that “the results are very important, and should be published in the scientific literature as well as for public education.”

We could not have engaged in this groundbreaking research without the support of our island community. Donations of oysters from the Steve and Sarah Malinowski, water access we received from the Fowler family (phase 1) and Diane Dexter (phase 2), and funding from the Fishers Island Conservancy with assistance from Andrew Ahrens, and the Rural Schools Grant made this authentic research opportunity possible.

And as the true scientist that she is, Mrs. Carol Giles is already engaged in dialogue with Dr. Goreau about the next steps she and her students can take to further add to the research base on biorock technology.

Written & Submitted by Karen Loiselle Goodwin, Superintendent, Fishers Island School, October 4, 2018

Click the blue button to read the report and click any photo to see a larger image or to scroll through the album. Photo Credit Jane T. Ahrens and Carol Giles

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

A Fishers Island Community Center Program and the accompanying Fog Horn eNewsletter serve as the communications resource for the Fishers Island community. The content – news, calendar, links and photos, milestones, ads, and more create a clear image of Fishers to those on and off the island.

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