Articles by Trowbridge students

November 25, 2008

Kids in school lab Introduction
By Laura Schultz, Grade 8

Last school year, Trowbridge School began an emphasis on water studies. It started when teachers, parents, and community members got together before the school year began. They looked at the needs of our neighborhood. They realized that Lake Michigan was our biggest neighbor by far. They also had the vision that the students would benefit from intensive study about Lake Michigan, the Great Lakes, and water studies in general. We found community partners that would assist us in learning more about water. As the year continued several teachers took classes at UWM so they would have current knowledge about the impact of pollutants and toxins found in lakes. Our eighth grade class then conducted experiments about the effect of lead on fish. Each classroom participated in learning about water studies through guest speakers, field trips, and experiments.

Lamprey mouth Aliens in the lake
By Michael Dean, Grade 8

There have been alien sightings near the lake. I repeat, there have been alien sightings by the lake.

An alien species known as the sea lamprey has moved to the lake and called it home. The sea lamprey is a parasitic eel-like animal that migrated to the Great Lakes through the Welland Canal system, part of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

In 1936, they were first seen in Lake Michigan. By the 1950s they pretty much eliminated the lake trout and also reduced populations of other species. A lot of effort had to be put into restocking the lake with fish.

The sea lampreys are attacking and killing fish in Lake Michigan. Fish are the main target for these nasty little creatures. They attach on the outside of the fish and live on them while they die. Multiple sea lampreys can live on a fish, lowering its life expectancy more.

Some ways to control the population of these nasty creatures are to use chemicals called a “lampricide,” build barriers in streams to keep the lampreys out, and also a program to reduce spawning. Using these methods has sort of brought the sea lamprey population under control. However, they can still be a threat to a well-balanced aquatic system due to the chemicals in the lampricide. So, I think you can see that we do still need to watch out for these aliens in the lake.

Lots of trash Cooperative learning
By Michael Dean, Grade 8

When do a third grader and a seventh grader have something in common? When a seventh grader becomes a mentor to the third grader about water studies. And that’s exactly what happened at Trowbridge. Last spring two classrooms worked together to clean up the beach at South Shore. Besides a great community service project, the seventh graders got a chance to teach the younger kids about types of pollution that are found on our beaches.

Lead poisoning
By Michael Dean, Grade 8

Recent studies have shown that there is more and more lead everywhere. It’s in your house, your toys, and even your drinking water.

That’s right, I said your water. Recent studies have shown that trace amounts have been in water. The lead can get into your water if you have a real old house with lead pipes. It may be a small amount but it can still be deadly.

Most lead poisoning happens to small children. Old houses with old paint can be the cause, especially if children or pets eat the paint chips. If it gets into your system it will be toxic. It will make you sick and even death may or may not follow.

Be aware it can also affect your pets. If your pets get lead in their system they may become sick or die as well. If you suspect that you have been exposed to lead, call your doctor so that he or she can help you so that said symptoms don’t get worse. Also, remember that the effects of lead poisoning may be irreversible.

Mussels among Lake Michigan’s problems
By Joseph Turczyn, Grade 8

Lake Michigan has a lot of problems. Invasive species are disrupting the food chain. Zebra mussels are one of the more commonly known ones.

Ships need to balance out the weight of the cargo and the rest of the ship. They do this by filling the bottom part of the ship with water. Oceangoing ships coming into the Great Lakes are believed to be the cause of the zebra mussel invasion. These ships unknowingly brought them here when they released their ballast water into the lake.

The zebra mussel was first seen in Lake St. Clair in 1988. Lake St. Clair connects Lake Huron and Lake Erie and this is how they made it into the Great Lakes system.

One zebra mussel can have from 30,000 to 40,000 babies in one year. Zebra mussels are filter feeders. One adult zebra mussel can filter a quart of water per day. If you multiply this by millions, problems happen because the animals and algae that the zebra mussels eat are also food for larval fish and other native species. So this disrupts the food chain for native fish, mollusks, and birds. This is real bad for other species of lake animals. I think we should all be concerned about the rising population of zebra mussels in Lake Michigan.

Kids look at sand Second graders study the shoreline
By Ricardo Rosales, Grade 3

When I went to the beach with my class, we used magnifying glasses to look at the sand. We also used magnets to get the magnetite out of the sand. We worked with partners and we sifted the sand so we could see the different sizes of the particles. Some were big chunks and others were very fine sand.

Water and cancer risk reduction

By Nadeen Dais, Grade 8

As we studied about the importance of water, we also learned that water is extremely important for health.

Here are some tips about drinking water.

Water can reduce the risk for cancer. According to “Water UK-Wise Up On Water” some studies indicate that drinking a lot of water may reduce the three major types of cancer: prostate cancer, breast cancer, and large bowel cancer. However, it is also believed that more studies need to be done in order to find conclusive evidence.

But, no matter what, scientists all agree that for a healthy life, you have to be hydrated in order to function well. Thousands of people are diagnosed with those three cancers every year. Most of them cause death without the right treatment. Now, I don’t think anyone wants to have cancer in this world. In order to reduce your risk for cancer, you could follow these steps every day:

  1. On a hot day drink lots of water.
  2. Start your day by drinking a tall glass of water.
  3. If you are not used to drinking lots of water, start little by little till you can drink a lot of water at once.
  4. Drink water before each meal and after, too.
  5. Carry a bottle with tap water everywhere you go.

If you follow these tips I’m sure you will become healthier day by day.

Also, the American Cancer Society website states that “Drinking water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer, as water dilutes the concentration of cancer-causing agents in the urine and shortens the amount of time they are in contact with the bladder lining.” Eight glasses of water a day is recommended, and maybe even more.

Some new studies seem to indicate that eight glasses of water show no increased health benefits. However, I know that I feel better when I drink a lot of water and I think that you will too.

What’s happening to our lake
By William Serrano, Grade 8

The lakes are contaminated and we know it. We just aren’t willing to use the knowledge we have about it. The toxins in the lakes are hurting our physical health.

You know that strange smell by the lake? One cause is dead fish. One other cause is Cladophora algae, which grows super fast in clear water.

Lake Michigan has been becoming more and more clear because of the filtering of the water by the zebra mussels. This allows more light to get deeper and creates an explosion of Cladophora algae, which love the light.

Also, people can get sick from eating fish that have too many toxins in their flesh.

I think a lot of people have no idea what is going on with the lakes. They better figure it out soon because the lakes are horrible. Do you want your kids swimming in Lake Michigan? I don’t want to swim in Lake Michigan. Matter of a fact, I don’t think the kids at Trowbridge want to swim in Lake Michigan.

I hope the information that I gave you helps your understanding of some problems with the Great Lakes. Let’s do something to make the Great Lakes GREAT again.

Trowbridge School of Great Lakes Studies is a participant in the Bay View Compass Community Partnership Program, which fosters the education and talents of young people interested in the arts of journalism, writing, editing, photography, and design. Thank you to coordinators Jane Wisniewski and Karen Workman.

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