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Students in Tyler, Minnesota Explore ACES


by Kitsie Carr and Leanne Carmany

Students in Leanne Carmany and Kitsie Carr's Environmental Science class at Russell-Tyler-Ruthton High School (Tyler, Minnesota) have spent the last few weeks outside of the realm of typical classroom lectures, note taking, and testing by exploring the Signals of Spring - ACES curriculum. Presentations, webcasts, on-line animal tracking, group work, and journal writing has filled their days! Students have expanded their existing knowledge of domestic animals to include marine mammals, migratory birds and arctic animals.

After studying various marine ecosystems, our students have become Marine Species Experts; they have examined bathymetry, phytoplankton and sea surface temperature and how it relates to the migration, daily life, and survival of animals living in and around our oceans.

Time was spent examining the impact our behavior has on animal life, for example the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean. Our students were amazed by the amount of plastic fragments, bottle caps, fishing line and other garbage that has found its way to our rivers, lakes and streams and eventually (through watersheds) to our oceans.
photo of marine debris
Marine debris that has washed up on the beach. Credit: NOAA

"Hands on activities, such as cutting up an apple to represent the amount of usable water on Earth, helped both our special needs and general education students realize the importance of preserving our natural resources." reported Kitsie Carr. Empowering them to take control and start a juice box recycling project at school helped our students lessen the ecological footprint made by students in Southwest Minnesota.

Throughout our ACES exploration, our students in Minnesota (Land of 10,000 lakes) have realized they have the potential to make a positive change in our ocean environment, even if we do live thousands of miles from salt water!!

photo of marine debris
Researchers found a large number of mermaid tears on the beach in Washington. Mermaid tears are plastic pellets that are used to manufacture plastic products. Credit: Port Townsend Marine Science Center
    photo of marine debris
Nikes that were washed up on the shoreline of the Pacific Northwest after they were lost from a container ship in 1990. Credit: CNN

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