I can’t help but wake up this morning and be thankful for another beautiful sunny day on the S/V Denis Sullivan! First off, I would just like to thank Kathy and the Sea Grant Organization for allowing me to be a part of this unique journey. I hope that what I learn here on this week long opportunity across our Great Lakes on the S/V Denis Sullivan, will leave such excitement and motivation in me that my 5th grade students this coming year at Trowbridge Street Elementary School would get so pumped up about Science and be more aware of our very own Lake Michigan.
At 8:30 a.m. we passed by a giant ship called the American Integrity. We all gazed with amazement at its structure. However, someone jokingly mentioned that the name of the ship is an oxymoron. I didn’t think much of it at first, but it got me thinking. Integrity means to be honest and true. Everyone has their own perspectives on what Americans are like, but can we truly justify the combination of both words together? Are we truly honest about how we teach and preach about our environment? Are we also applying and springing into action?
As other previous educators have blogged about, we were split into different groups to help with work on the ship. I happen to be on the B group overlooking and keeping watch for other boats passing by. At 10 a.m. we were able to gather for a Science lesson from Marte. The objective was to collect zooplankton sample on the St. Mary River prior to entering the locks at Sault Ste Marie on the U.S. and Canada border. We used a netting tool that we lowered to about 20 feet in depth. We immediately pulled it back up to make an accurate measurement of the zooplankton collected. A question was then asked by Marte. “Would the density (abundance) of zooplankton be more concentrated on the St Mary River or on Lake Michigan? We then observed our surroundings and
noticed that the river itself is the border between U.S. and Canada. Traffic among various boats and ships were also quite busy. Runoffs would be prevalent since yards have perfectly trimmed lawns. There were some clumps of oil, grass clippings and other debris on the river. My answer to Marte’s question was incorrect. I thought since runoff and other pollutants are evident on the river, zooplankton would be in lower density (abundance). Marte clarified that because various source of food are found from the runoffs, zooplankton would therefore thrive. Sure enough, when we pulled the ciphen, an abundance of Spiny Water Flea, which is an invasive species to the Great Lakes was collected.
The collected samples were then observed through microscopes in the pilot house under Michelle’s guidance and expertise. She helped us identify, measure, count and record the various zooplankton samples. This truly was an eye opener for me! I would not have truly understood that something so microscopic can harmfully impact the growth and population of our fish wildlife. Ultimately, we want to collect enough samples from various locations among the great lakes so we can compare data and analyze the information, which would then better inform us about the problems that affect the Great Lakes. Only then can we begin to discuss and find the right solutions.
To end, I go back to the idea of integrity. Can I as a teacher honestly begin to teach my 5th grade students with great urgency and true awareness? Can we as a community be more proactive in how we tackle our own waste as it makes it way to our lake? Can we as a global community be more intentional when it comes to genuinely protecting our environment? Through science taught with integrity and knowledge, I am convinced that we truly can.