Who is ADA and why is she floating in Choate Pond?

Lilah McCormack, Copy Editor

Students (left to right) Joseph Turner, Max Yankowitz, Stephanie Sicilian, Kenji Okura, and Sohaib Babar. Photo by Vincent Ret.

Have you ever wondered what that orange thing is floating on Choate Pond? The Blue Colab can explain.

Blue Colab is a program of students, interns, and faculty that work to advance the systems that inform people about the quality of their water in real time.

It was a sunny day last Friday afternoon when the team suited up to pull Ada out of the pond for maintenance, as it was sinking in the water. Ada is a monitoring station that uses sensors to retrieve water quality data from the pond every 15 minutes.

While some were out on the boat doing the dirty work, others stood by and admired the impressive technology that the Blue Colab is producing, as well as the vibrant foliage surrounding the small but mighty Choate Pond.

John Cronin is the executive director of the Center for Technology, Policy, and the Environment at Seidenberg where he also directs the Blue Colab.

John Cronin and his son JD Cronin ride a boat on Choate Pond to drag the sinking Ada to land. Photo by Vincent Ret.

Cronin explained the Blue Colab Friday in three main points. “One is to better understand this important water body that is on our campus, what effects it, and what its condition is. The second is to understand why it is an important water body.”

Choate Pond is connected to the Pocantico river and the Hudson River, making it a part of a large watershed. Believe it or not, our little pond on campus is connected to every body of water on earth.

“Water from here not just flows to the Pocantico river and Hudson, but to the Atlantic Ocean which then mixes with all the oceans of the world and then through evaporation all the oceans of the world transports water back to here. We literally have molecules from every water body on the planet sitting in Choate Pond.” Cronin said.

The Blue Colab wants to inform the whole campus about how our pond is connected to all of the water in the world. By utilizing this body of water, the Blue Colab can better understand how we can implement these systems on a larger scale.

Justin Brandon operates and manages Blue Colab’s technology lab. He arrived at Choate Pond fully equipped with the tools to repair Ada and get it back floating on the water.

Not only did the floatation device need to be replaced, but Brandon was also there to replace the sensors. This allowed the Blue Colab team to get a close look at exactly how these water monitoring stations work. Brandon went in depth explaining exactly how Ada works.

Justin Brandon performing maintenance to Ada, the water monitoring station, at Choate Pond. Pace Chronicle/Lilah McCormack.

“The sensors use lasers to shoot different colors into the water. Depending on the color it comes back is what is going on in the water… say pH, depending on the color of the water the laser goes into it the reaction will tell you what the pH of the water is.” Brandon said.

The data from the sensors is retrieved through a data logger and a wireless modem sends it to a computer.

See for yourself the data that ADA collects and learn more about the innovative work that the Blue Colab is doing at Pace University. Or try texting “ADA” to 914-483-5900.

Underwater sonde holds sensors that measure water quality. The new one (bottom) replaces the old one (top). Pace Chronicle/Lilah McCormack.