Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Janet Nelson

What’s new in Red Lake High School Biology


This summer I was privileged to be a part of a team of 15 teachers and 3 EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) scientists on board the R/V Lake Guardian on Lake Superior for seven days collecting lake samples to be studied for water quality, plankton, and plastics. In addition to the sampling on the lake, we had one day at Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI studying food chains. Specifically, lake trout stomachs! The smaller fish inside the trout stomachs were looked at and found they were eating the zooplankton in the lake (the same we had been collecting).

This activity gave me an idea. I called the Red Lake Fisheries and they graciously, although a bit perplexed, donated 30 walleye stomachs (actually, I got every body cavity organ possible…what a treat!) while the Red Lake DNR provided me a lake sampling of plankton (thanks Pat!).

I set up a lab with microscopes, slides, and stomachs. One microscope station was algae; another dissecting microscope station was zooplankton from both lakes, and finally, the stomachs. Students followed the food chain up from the algae to the stomachs to see firsthand what the walleye are eating. We found perch minnows and shiners ranging from 13 in one stomach to none, and in every state of decomposition! It was really cool! At one point I heard a student claim “This makes me want to be a scientist!” An instant smile came to my face! Students made comparisons between the two lakes and were surprised by some differences.

I sent photos and procedures to the chief EPA scientist on our ship, Dr. Joel Hoffman, and he plans to use them in an upcoming International Science Conference! What an honor for our students! I am blessed to work in a district that allows their teachers to experience workshops in the summer that benefit our kids. And this one really did!

Enjoy the photos!


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