Operation SPLASH educates young Freeporters


Bayview Elementary School’s second graders are learning how to save our local waterways. Thanks to Operation SPLASH, these seven-year old student scientists now have a greater understanding of how they can keep trash out of our waterways.

On a sunny Tuesday morning in late May, these students gathered at Operation SPLASH headquarters on the Nautical Mile for a hands-on lesson on the local marine ecosystem and the impact of stormwater runoff.

Storm water runoff occurs when precipitation that cannot be absorbed into the ground travels across the land. The process allows street debris, including cigarette butts, condom rings, animal defecation, and fertilizers from lawns, to be transported into the nearest waterways without filtration.

SPLASH collaborated with Adelphi University to implement its interactive educational program called, “adopt a storm drain project,” to help young children develop an understanding of the environmental problems plaguing Freeport, like storm water runoff. The program also teaches them about what they can do to prevent further damage to the environment.

The children's eyes darted from side-to-side as they scanned their neighbors’ reactions when the question was asked – Where does trash go?

They shouted in unrehearsed synchronization, “into the ocean!”

“They love it. They’re learning about infrastructure; who learns about infrastructure in the second grade?” said Devorah Crupar, a member of SPLASH.

According to Captain Leigh Block, who hosted the event, everything is an ecosystem and is connected. “The big fish eats the little fish, and smaller fish eats smaller fish,” he said.

Block also emphasized the role marine creatures play in maintaining the health of the ocean in Long Island.  “Clams sort of act like a filter,” he said. “They eat all the algae in the water and what comes out then is clear.” He also noted that mollusks and crustacean, like clams and lobsters, are like scavengers of the ocean. “If a fish dies, they’ll eat it.”

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