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NASA / New Jersey Space Grant Consortium Sponsors Student STEM Exploration

Twenty STEM interested high school students joined Rutgers scientists Hugh Roarty, Rick Lathrop,

Kendall Eldridge and Lucas Marxen in examining the effectiveness of prescribed fire to attain increase the biodiversity in the meadows and woodlands of the Rutgers Ecological Preserve and Natural Teaching Area, a 400-acre tract on the Livingston Campus of Rutgers University.

Prescribed fire, or the controlled application of fire by experts, is increasingly used across New Jersey as a management technique to maintain and increase the species diversity in meadows and to control exotic invasive species in woodlands. Over two Saturday programs, NJ high school students worked with Dr. Hugh Roarty to use a drone to collect post-burn imagery and with Kendall Eldridge , Dr. Rick Lathrop, and Lucas Marxen to use GIS technology to make maps that will geolocate the plots and allow us to compare the field collected data with the pre-vs. post-burn imagery. The ultimate goal was to document the short-term effects of prescribed fire on the Eco Preserve’s meadows and woodlands and develop a plan to plant native plants to increase habitat for pollinators.

Students were challenged to share what they have learned in their communities.  Shreya Dutt, a high school student in East Brunswick, developed this video for use in her local library and as part of her YouTube channel –

This program was sponsored by NJ Space Grant and supported by 4-H Youth Development, the Center for Remote Sensing Spatial Analysis, and the Department of Marine & Coastal Sciences.