Alpena — 5th graders from Ella White Elementary spent the afternoon collecting rusty crayfish, zebra mussels, and plastics from the Thunder Bay River near 4 Mile Dam.
Three sections of the fifth grade class rotated through each station, first collecting and analyzing the rusty crayfish. They also gathered zebra mussels to be assessed and measured. At the final station, the 5th graders analyzed microplastics and measure pH levels. The project has been happening for the past 11 years.
“We’ve been able to collect a lot of data of the years, and the kids have been able to use that data to compare what we saw the first few and what we’re seeing now,” said 5th Grade Teacher Robert Thomson.
The students will use that data to create experiments and pursue their curiosity. The goal is to create more questions than answers. The data collected from rusty crayfish will go toward a statewide survey for a Michigan State University researcher.
The project was possible by several groups including the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, Huron Pines AmeriCorp, US Fish and Wildlife Services, Michigan State Extension, and Michigan Sea Grant.