Preparation for trades could count toward graduation under proposed legislation

Capital News Service
LANSING — High school students could learn algebra while working with metal under legislation pending in the Senate. The bills sponsored by Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, and Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, would give students more flexibility in classes they could take in high school. They could take an agricultural science or anatomy class in place of the traditional second year science class, swap a foreign language class for an industrial art class and fulfill the Algebra II requirement with classes that incorporate the material differently. The Michigan Merit Curriculum enacted in 2006 allows little flexibility for students to explore a career field, McBroom said. All around the state there have been unintended consequences popping up because of the rigid requirements, McBroom said.

Science class is all about a salmon named Salami

Capital News Service
LANSING — After solving the crisis of dwindling bee populations in West Michigan, and illustrating a Great Lakes ecological issue through stop-animation… how about creating an original music video to promote local geology? All in a day’s work – or really, an academic year – for your average seventh-grader at Hamilton Middle School in Hamilton. Instead of wading through graded homework and exam review sheets, Hamilton’s seventh-grade science curriculum is comprised almost entirely of creative, collaborative projects. These projects take the form of things like “Salami the Salmon,” a stop-animation video that student Elijah Soerens made to show how invasive species affect salmon. It is the result of the futurePrep Connections program, a partnership between the Ottawa Area School District, which is near the Lake Michigan shoreline, and local businesses.

Sturgeon studies examine spawning, bring science to school

Capital News Service
LANSING — Researchers at Black Lake are studying threats to sturgeon and using their findings to teach biology to students from kindergarten through high school. Among the questions being examined at the 10,130-acre lake in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties is why the prehistoric fish hasn’t reproduced in the wild as much as scientists would like. There are some working hypotheses, said Edward Baker, one of the lead investigators on the project. One is theory is that the habitat isn’t ideal for sturgeon. “The habitat has changed sufficiently from what it was before Europeans extensively settled the state that the larvae, once they hatch and start to grow, just aren’t surviving,” said Baker, the lake sturgeon coordinator at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

NEMO's new mission: Find toxic algae blooms

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Capital News Service
LANSING—If it looks like a fish and swims like a fish, then it must be a fish. Unless it’s a pseudo-fish named NEMO, designed to monitor water temperature, oxygen levels, invasive algae populations and pollutants. For example, a robofish will be able to navigate independently and transmit information about the location of toxic algae blooms.
“We chose to fit these fish with sensors for toxic algae blooms, but I think other researchers will use this technology in the future to monitor different aspects of water quality,” Michigan State University zoology Professor Elena Litchman said. According to Litchman, excess nutrients and warmer temperatures create an ideal growth environment for algae, which release toxins that are dangerous to other aquatic organisms and humans. “Although it’s hard to remove these blooms, knowing where they are allows us to warn people not to go in those areas,” Litchman said.