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Capstone Projects

Presence and Abundance of Microplastics within Flowing Waters of Private, Wilderness, and Other Forest Preserve Lands of the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 16:26
Abstract: Microplastic sampling was conducted at thirteen locations throughout the water bodies of the Northern Adirondack Region. Plastics were found at all thirteen sites, which were categorized by the impact level of human development. Any particle less than 5mm can be defined as a microplastic particle. Microscopic plastics can be found in a variety of chemical cleaners, clothing fabrics, and concrete solutions. Storm water drainage systems and wastewater treatment plants are confirmed sources of microplastic pollution, which carry pollutants into our rivers, lakes, and streams. Ingestion of microplastic particles can lead to many distinctive threats, including biological and physical abnormalities, while possibly leading to bioaccumulation and biomagnification throughout the food web. Future practices for management and prevention of microplastic pollutants in the Adirondacks is critical for environmental protection, while also portraying a worldly view of an overlooked human induced issue.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Patrick Colern, Sinjin Larson

Environmental Values Represented in Successful Green Building; LEED vs. Passive House

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:02
Abstract: In a society struggling to synchronize human development with environmental quality, the construction sector is often the target of sustainability initiatives. The purpose of this research is to investigate the environmental values and themes that influenced the design process of two successful green building projects. The two buildings at the focus of the study are new residential construction in the state of Maine; one with LEED Platinum certification and one with Passive House certification. Both buildings were found to exemplify themes of energy performance, practicality, and bioregionalism and included a collaborative design effort. A better understanding of these themes and values that guided these project teams to construct paradigm-shifting structures can help form a model for mainstream applications of a sustainable built environment.
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Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Heather Coleates

Impacts of Maple Syrup Production Programming at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:37
Abstract: Education and interpretation provides strategies and techniques to successfully communicate natural resource and environmental concerns. This research addresses the effectiveness of a community education project at the Paul Smith’s College (PSC) Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in the Adirondacks of New York State. Educational programs regarding maple syrup production were designed and evaluated to determine their impact on the local community. The objectives were to offer skills education, raise awareness on a local resource, foster a connection to the land, and offer involvement in the VIC’s community maple project. The goal of maple education at the VIC is to educate the community in an attempt to encourage the growth of an underutilized sustainable local resource that community members can become involved in without degradation of Adirondack forests. Determinations were made using a survey questionnaire provided before and after the programs were performed. Based on the data collected the determination made is that the majority of participants that attended ultimately were interested in becoming involved in maple sugaring using to VIC as a gateway for maple sugaring, primarily as a hobby and outdoor activity. This research has aided in the determination that effective programming at the VIC results in encouraging the community to be involved in maple syrup production. With this determination the VIC will continue to perform the designed educational programs as a service to the community.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2014
Authors: Thomas Manitta

A Paleolimnological study of precipitation variability in the Adirondacks over the last thousand years

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 20:40
Abstract: At present, most regional climate models anticipate wetter conditions by the end of this century, but a few models anticipate drier conditions. This study uses foresight to test these models, as well as describe the relationship between the dominant climate system in the region and past precipitation in the Adirondacks. Precipitation was inferred from diatom assemblages observed along a lake sediment core extending into the 1000 years. This study shows that abrupt, extreme wet events were common during the last 1000 years, and a relationship between the dominant climate system (North Atlantic Oscillation) and precipitation was irregular during the cool Little Ice Age but negatively associated during the warm Medieval Climate Anomaly. With temperatures in the Northeast projected to increase by 2-5 degrees C by 2100 AD, our study suggests the region may become more arid rather than wetter, opposite of what models currently suggest.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
File Attachments: regalado.serwatka.docx
Authors: Sean A. Regalado, W. Martin Serwatka

Evaluating the Recovery of Lakes from Acid Deposition in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 22:49
Abstract: Acid rain has been an environmental problem since the 1980’s and has been a core issue in the Adirondack Park located in the northern part of New York State. Acid rain is created by acidic gases from anthropogenic uses that mix in the atmosphere with precipitation and forms acid deposition. Acid Rain lowers the pH of water which has detrimental effects on the biota living within lakes. There is a general consensus that the chemistry of lake water is recovering from acid deposition, however, there have not been sufficient studies on the state of recovery from acid rain in the Adirondack Park or much of the United States. This study will investigate if lake recovery is indeed happening in the Adirondack Park. This study analyzed the water chemistry of lakes using data collected from the Adirondack Lake Survey Corporation (ALSC) and New York State Department of Conservation (DEC). The object of this study is to find a trend in the water chemistry and combine it with DEC data to evaluate the present condition of lakes within the park. The results showed that there are not significant correlations of the data besides SO42- concentrations, which have been approving in the park in the last 20 years.
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Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Timothy Grossman, Ryan Kish

Alternative Management Methods for Acid Deposition in Lakes

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 18:09
Abstract: Acid deposition has been causing the acidification of lakes in the Northeast United States for decades. The result is lake ecosystems with abnormally low pH that stresses the organisms that live there. Management plans in place in the Adirondack Park have been working to remediate acidified lakes for the past few decades. Limestone (CaCO3) has been the generally accepted method for managing these lakes, in an attempt restore the lakes pre-impacted conditions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of liming in reversing the effects of acidification, and to identify effective alternatives. Five alternatives were tested against limestone: Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), Sodium acetate (CH3COONa), Magnesium carbonate (MgCO3), and Potassium carbonate (K2CO3). Double End-Point Titration tests were performed on all of the compounds, using both distilled water and lake water, to determine the relative alkalinity of each compound. Alkalinity is the measure of the ability of a solution to neutralize acid, also known as its "buffering capacity." Lake water was used in the titration tests in an attempt to mimic in-situ testing. The results of the titrations showed limestone proving to be the most effective in the lake water tests, with Magnesium carbonate and Potassium carbonate ranked closely behind. While limestone has proven to be an effective management method, its reliability is dependent upon the characteristics of the lake catchment, making it important to continue to look for alternative solutions.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
Authors: Derek Scott

An Educational Assessment of a Nature Center

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:18
Abstract: Currently, there is a strong focus on public environmental education. However, it is not known how environmental education programs relate to the New York State Curricula or to the North American Association for Environmental Education’s (NAAEE) education goals for school-aged children. The purpose of this qualitative, relationship study is to determine how and to what extent a nature center’s educational programs relate to New York State Curricula and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s education goals for school aged children. Data will be collected through a content analysis approach. The information gathered from the content analysis will then be compared against each other to see where there are gaps in the nature center’s educational goals and how they might ameliorate them. This information can be used by the nature center to format their educational programs in a way that is more conducive with both the New York State Curricula and the NAAEE educational goals.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2013
Authors: Jacqueline McCabe

Paul Smith's College & International Learning: A Small Scale Assessment of Student Perceived Personal & Academic Gains

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 22:16
Abstract: Many students who participate in a study abroad experience during their college or university career experience positive gains on personal and academic levels. This growth can be gained directly from the sojourn while it is taking place, and/or upon individual reflection of the experience once the student returns home. Currently, Paul Smith’s College (PSC) students are able to participate in a variety of international experiences, including short-term (minimum of ten days) tours, faculty-led service learning practicums and semester-long study abroad programs, personally organized by individual students. Since there has been no central Paul Smith's College entity that examines how students may be making gains from these experiences, there exists an unmet need to discover how students believe they have benefited from study abroad. This study used grounded theory methodology and mixed qualitative research methods to investigate whether PSC students benefited personally and academically from their individual international learning experiences. This research has revealed the majority of students interviewed believed themselves to have been positively affected on both levels. These students are also more open to continuing traveling, either for personal enjoyment or career advancement. This perceived growth occurred despite, and perhaps, as a result of having experienced culture shock during their sojourns or upon their return to the U.S.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Mckenney_FinalCapstone.docx
Authors: Sarah McKenney

Draft Horse Sustainability Presentations: The effectiveness of presentations on draft animal power at the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:53
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College has been putting on draft horse presentations for the public for many years but until now it was unknown how effective these were in education of the audience in topics of the interest. During the 2013 Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival, a series of demonstrations and presentations were conducted for the public. Surveys of those in attendance have now given us information on how far people are traveling, what their prior experience is, what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it. From this information we wish to gauge attendees’ response to draft animals and their uses.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alexandria Barner, Jacob Shultz

Green Roof Technologies in Adirondack Wilderness Areas

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 11:01
Abstract: Wilderness is qualified by two main characteristics: naturalness and solitude. To enhance these characteristics, many things are excluded from wilderness areas including roads, motorized vehicles and human-made structures of any kind. However some argue there needs to be greater consideration to structures that are a regional legacy and hold considerable historical significance. The Adirondack lean-to is a well-known entity associated with the Adirondack Park but much debate exists over whether or not such structures should be allowed in wilderness areas. The addition of green roofs to lean-tos can possibly mediate the humanness of these structures and produce a three-fold benefit. First, green roofs increase the naturalness of the lean-to. Second, they provide a model for naturalness and sustainability. Third, green roofs on lean-tos provide an additional benefit by lowering, however modestly, the impact of these structures on the natural environment. This qualitative study conducted a series of interviews to examine the feasibility and gauge the receptivity of stakeholders to this idea. Identified themes included the maintenance required to keep up the roofs, the cost and labor of installation and their longevity. Additional themes included the perceived lack of benefits, cultural and historical significance as well as the possibility of green-roofed lean-tos to provide an educational benefit. The data suggest that the benefits associated with green roofs on lean-tos may outweigh the cost of their installation. The naturalness of the green roof on the lean-t may thus offset the “unnaturalness” of the structures themselves to the degree that lean-tos may be perceived as more conforming to wilderness areas. This study concludes that further research is needed into the technical aspects of green roof construction including the amount of maintenance required and the use of wilderness compliant materials. The interest in green-roofed lean-tos appears to exist and with additional technical data it may be possible to take the next step.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alison Liedkie