Hewitt News

Solving a Local, Real-World Challenge with the Billion Oyster Project
Tim Clare, K-12 Sustainability Coordinator

Since 2017, Hewitt high school students have been helping the Billion Oyster Project, an organization dedicated to regenerating New York Harbor’s oyster reefs, solve a local, real-world challenge. Oyster reefs do important work in a marine ecosystem by removing water pollutants, providing habitats for a wide variety of organisms, and reducing flooding and erosion. The Billion Oyster Project relies on community scientists to achieve their mission, and throughout the year Hewitt students conduct hands-on field research by monitoring their oyster research station for oyster growth, biodiversity, and water quality. The data they collect will help the Billion Oyster Project achieve its goal of replenishing New York’s waterways with a critical natural resource. 

Students and a teacher stand on a pier and pull up an oyster crate from the Hudson River.

The Hewitt team starts their work by pulling up their oyster cage from the Hudson River

A closeup of a rusty cage about halfway full of oyster shells.

The Billion Oyster Project collects and repurposes shells from local restaurants, which provide oyster larvae a substrate to attach to and continue their life-cycle

Students in jackets and gloves empty oysters from the cage into a bucket of river water.

Members of the Hewitt team carefully transfer oysters from their cage to a container of water taken from the Hudson River

A student in a light blue jacket and gray pants crouches and measures an oyster.

The students observe each oyster, record its size, and make note of any oyster larvae on the shells

A closeup of hands in blue and black gloves measuring an oyster shell. There is a small mussel in the shell.

Students are excited to find interesting examples of biodiversity in their cage, such as this mussel who made an oyster shell its home

Three students crouch over a bucket of river water. One is holding a purple thermometer in the water.

The Hewitt team’s field research also includes testing water samples for temperature, acidity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and nutrient levels

Three students examine the oyster cage. One holds a small magnifying glass.

And inspecting the oyster cage for organisms such as small fish, crabs, sea squirts, and different forms of aquatic plant life all of whom call this tiny habitat home

Students wearing black and blue jackets sit on the pier and take notes on clipboards.

After recording their data, Hewitt's community scientists will send their findings to the Billion Oyster Project