Aerial shot of Passaic River Institute.

Passaic Basin Eco-Explorers Program

The Passaic Basin Eco-Explorers Program in Environmental Science, Ecology and Computer Technology is a four-week, Monday through Friday program consisting of all-day sessions for middle school students, 6th to 8th grades.

The program consists of visits to natural, notable sites related to the Passaic River and area ecology such as the Great Falls National Historical Park, to important environmental infrastructure such as Newark’s Pequannock Water Treatment Plant, and visits to area forests, streams and lakes to conduct field studies such as Alfonso Bonsal Preserve and Branch Brook Park.

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Topics of study include:

  • watershed protection
  • water treatment and analysis
  • biodiversity
  • wildlife habitat and management
  • erosion and sedimentation
  • water sampling
  • industry-river relationships
  • groundwater and tidal hydrology
  • estuarine ecology
  • ecosystem management
  • related computer technology

group shot of Eco Explorers instructors and students

Students visit and study areas from the headwaters of the Passaic River to its mouth at Newark Bay. Typically, students are picked up at their local school at 8:30 a.m. and brought to their field trip/study destination. At the completion of morning field activities, students are transported to Montclair State University in the afternoon for lunch at a cafeteria on campus. The afternoons are spent in a computer laboratory learning skills in computer technology.

On the last day of the program, each student presents a PowerPoint presentation highlighting their camp experience; documenting field observations, knowledge gained, collected field data, data analysis with charts generated using Microsoft Excel, photos taken in the field with cameras provided by the program, and a summary of their findings, to their peers and family members.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Improve attitudes toward and knowledge about nature and the environment by exposing Newark students to nearby fascinating and beautiful natural features.
  • Improve awareness and understanding of the environmental infrastructure that supports life in Newark, and the benefits, threats, opportunities, obstacles and efforts related to that infrastructure.
  • Improve attitudes toward science by stimulating curiosity and excitement in the students about ecology, environmental science and computer technology.
  • Introduce the substance and tools of a career in ecology or environmental science/engineering.
  • Increase students’ perception regarding the feasibility of attending college and a career in science by placing students in a university environment, interacting with college students and professors as role models.

This program is made possible with generous financial support from: