Columbia University Professor Shares Research on Algae Blooms

Dr. Joaquim Goes, a research professor at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University visited both campuses this week as part of our ongoing partnership with Columbia University. Dr. Goes’ research focuses on understanding how ocean ecosystems and plankton are responding to climate change. His studies on the effects of global warming and the subsequent melting Himalyan ice caps, shifting air and water currents, and massive increase in both the “green tide” and Dead Zone of the Arabian Sea parallel the algae issues we have been experiencing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr. Goes toured the Lower School with Mrs. Tanna Horner, spending extensive time visiting the Dart STEM Lab and marine biology lab. Dr. Goes then facilitated a curriculum development workshop with STEM and marine biology faculty. Continuing to improve and expand the Lower School STEM and marine biology curriculum is part of the focus of ODA’s program with Columbia, and our faculty members were enthusiastic about the opportunity to collaborate with the esteemed researcher.

The following day Dr. Goes visited the Uihlein Campus, starting the day addressing the Upper School at Ovation. He gave an informative, in-depth presentation about large-scale climate change and the affect it is having on the “green tide” algae water problems in the Arabian Sea. “All of my work has been focused around how environmental change has been happening,” explained Dr. Goes. He described the catastrophic environmental problems the region is experiencing, including air quality issues, a lack of fresh drinking water, and a massive die off of sea life, sharing animated graphs, videos, and charts depicting his research.

He then visited AP engineering students in the Dart STEM Lab, who presented the projects they are currently working on. Dr. Goes was particularly interested in the ongoing Oyster Reef Project, inviting several of the students working on the project to come to his lab at Columbia to share their research and collaborate with his team. He noted that the use of oysters to help purify contaminated water is an area that he and his colleagues have been thinking about and was both intrigued and impressed with the research and prototypes the ODA students shared.

After a lunch with students and members of the science faculty, Dr. Goes visited seventh and eighth grade science classes to talk about microplastics and the dangers they pose to the environment. He shared some of his research with the classes and talked about the everyday items we all use that contain the harmful material, including laundry detergents and synthetic clothing. “I hope that you start to think about how the things you do and what you use on a daily basis can affect the environment, especially the use of plastics,” he said.

As he wrapped up his two-day visit to Out-of-Door, Dr. Goes reflected on his experience: “I’ve been so impressed with the students at this school,” he said. “From the younger students I met at the Lower School, who were so eager to share their ideas with me, to the students here [at the Uihlein Campus], they are knowledgeable about so many subjects. They’ve talked to me about social justice, history, and current events in addition to science. This school is very unique compared to so many of the schools that I visit. They are lucky to go to a school so aptly named.”

The Out-of-Door Academy

LOWER SCHOOL |  Historic Siesta Key Campus  |  Pre-K – Grade 5
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  |  Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch  |  Grades 6 – 8 |  Grades 9 – 12
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