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Carlton students get hands-on learning about fish sampling

Students from Carlton High School learn how to sample fish with nets through the Rivers2Lake Education Program at Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.1 / 2
Seventh graders from Carlton Middle School learn how to sample fish from the Thompson Reservoir near Carlton.2 / 2

Chemistry students at Carlton Middle School and High School studied the muck at the bottom of the Thomson Reservoir near Carlton during spring semester. In May, students in Tracy Bockbrader's advanced chemistry class and Mike Land's seventh grade environmental science class put their learning into practice by sampling fish from the reservoir alongside fisheries biologist Josh Dumke from University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute.

Most of the fish sampled were bass, as well as a few northern pike. The fish will be analyzed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for two contaminants that are historically known to be present in the reservoir — mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl., or PCB.

The advanced chemistry students also collected water quality information and analyzed historic mercury and PCB data collected from the reservoir bottom sediment. The students made recommendations for what should be done about past contamination in the St. Louis River Area of Concern, which includes the reservoir and the estuary closer to Lake Superior.

Students then met with researchers from the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, based at University of Wisconsin-Superior, and from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to better understand how scientists and policy makers know if a waterway is polluted and what can be done about it.

Bockbrader and Land are enrolled in the Rivers2Lake Education Program at Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, which helps teachers integrate the Lake Superior watershed into their curriculum using outdoor education and place-based learning.

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