Trawling the Gowanus Canal with Parsons Collab Students

This semester, Barent has been teaching a Collab class at the Parsons School of Design. This course brings together undergraduate and graduate students from across The New School university to design and prototype trawls, test and refine collection protocols, and develop mobile app solutions to crowdsourcing citizen science data. Some of their work will enhance the offerings of this website as well. 

On April 2nd, the class took a trip to the 3rd Street bridge over the Gowanus canal in Brooklyn to test the trawls made in class. It was a beautiful day and joining us was a team from The New School who profiled this project for The New School's Facebook page. You can check out that video here.  

One of the trawls that was tested has been featured on a website called Engineering for Change. The post provides step by step instructions for making a frog trawl, which was designed by three students from the Collab class: Aimee Abalos, Mi Sung Kim and Pornsima Duangratana.

In addition, another team made up of Cheryl Bennett, Lauren Ouaknine, and TOW's Taina Guarda tested their version of a trawl called Baby Legs, which was developed by  Max Liboiron and her team at the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR). 

Shreen Bhansali and Ryan Logan tried their hand at testing a shoreline trawl and attached their trawl to an extendable pole. 


TOW team member and trawl design guru Aishwarya Janwadkar tested her own trawl and helped troubleshoot issues with trawls as they came up. She and Barent also lifted a large plastic barrel out of the canal, essentially rescuing it from ending up as yet more plastic waste in the ocean.  

It was a successful day and students are now tasked with commenting and improving upon collection protocols. We at TOW recognize that citizen science work needs easy to follow standards to produce workable and reliable data. We plan to support this process with a protocol standard in the future. With the help of the awesome students in the collab class, we are getting there.