‘Floating classroom’ showing success

From left, Superintendent Secretary Georgia Baldwin, Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson and Board President Stephen Syzdek join Vice President Paul Chizek and board member Robert Becker as they view they findings of the Science Research class Monday evening. (The Leader-Herald/Opal Jessica Bogdan)

BROADALBIN — Students using the “floating classroom” presented their findings to the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District Board of Education Monday evening.

The science research class works with a pontoon boat, known as “Patriot 1,” to survey the Great Sacandaga Lake for invasive species and track walleye populations. Mark Brooks, high school principal, said the idea of the floating classroom grew out of a conversation last year with Brian Henry, a science teacher at the district.

“These students are not only identifying the problems they’re looking at, but they’re solving those same problems with their community around us,” Brooks said.

Stephen Tomlinson, district superintendent, said the boat was funded through taxpayer dollars as well as grants.

The students work with a ranger from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to discover and monitor invasive species such as Eurasian water milfoil, a submerged aquatic plant that can form thick mats in lakes that can hinder boating, fishing and swimming. The students also tagged 75 walleye to track growth and life span.

“I think every class should really strive to get the connection to students that they’ve had and also look at the real world problems that they’re solving,” Tomlinson said.

The research class also studied the local landfill on Union Mills Road, which has been dormant for years. The students hope to identify harmful chemical disposals and impacts it may have had on the community.

“This group of young adults is tackling something that is very serious and I think they take it seriously. I applaud them for their work and I applaud Mr. Henry and his colleagues for spending time with their students to continue this work,” Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson added this research class is one of a series of Adirondack curriculum offered at the district. Other courses include a humanities class and Adirondack crafting to start in January.

“So there’s a series of Adirondack courses to help our students who choose to take these elective classes to better understand the region they’ve grown up in,” Tomlinson said.

In other news, Tomlinson said the Perth campus bid construction packets have been generating a lot of attention since being released. He said he’s optimistic the bid packets are clean, meaning everything makes sense to the potential construction companies and sub-contractors that will be reviewing the packets.

“We’re optimistic that we will have come in at, or under budget,” Tomlinson said.

Bids will be open Jan. 16 and will be followed by the BOE meeting. Within two weeks, the Broadalbin campus will go out to bid with the anticipated bid opening in late February.

Tomlinson said if everything goes as planned, the district hopes to host a formal public ground-breaking ceremony at the Perth campus for the pre-Kindergarten pod that will be built at the end of the third- and fourth-grade wing and for the new office suite that will be built at the front of the campus.

By Patricia Older

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