Learning on the lake

LCHS students take science class to Blackwell Island

Print Article

Dave Biggins, a law enforcement ranger with the Bureau of Land Management, talks to Lake City High School students about his job duties as Lead Park Ranger Jake Bachtel listens behind him on Tuesday at Blackwell Island.

COEUR d’ALENE — “This is amazing,” Connor Brooks said as he pulled a glass test tube from its case. When the liquid inside it came into contact with water from Lake Coeur d’Alene, it changed color, indicating the levels of oxygen in the water. “I feel like a scientist.”

Brooks, along with about 70 other classmates from Lake City High School, took a field trip to Blackwell Island Tuesday to study the chemical and biological components of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The students, juniors enrolled in the school’s Outdoor Education Program, traveled between three different stations: testing the water’s chemical makeup; studying the small invertebrates living in the water; and learning how pollution finds its way into the lake and then into humans.

“Our major goal here is for the kids to experience science so they have a greater appreciation for what’s going on in our lake, and maybe it’ll inspire them to be scientists, too,” said Jamie Esler, one of the science teachers for the Outdoor Studies Program. “We are doing some tests here that water resource scientists are doing on the rest of the lake.”

To prepare for the field trip, students learned about the history of Blackwell Island and its importance to the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. They also used scientific articles and essays about Lake Coeur d’Alene to help prepare them for the SAT.

Lenna Reardon, one of the juniors, loved the outing. She believes the hands-on experiences the Outdoor Studies Program provides has helped her to be more aware of things happening locally.

“It makes me feel like I could do much more than sit in a classroom. I can actually test water and see how I can make a difference, instead of thinking it’s too far gone,” she said. “They’re teaching us to be more aware of our surroundings.”

Reardon’s classmate, Josh Weadick, explained what he’s been learning about how Lake Coeur d’Alene’s water quality is in danger.

“There’s been a problem with heavy metals washing downstream from mining towns like Kellogg,” he explained. “Oxygen keeps those metals on the bottom of the lake, but with decomposing plants affecting oxygen levels as well as algae blooms being eaten by bacteria, oxygen levels could get too low, letting those settled heavy metals rise, contaminating the water and affecting wildlife.”

“It’s a big cycle and very confusing,” Reardon added. “Not a lot of people understand it and no one is really seeing that pollution is rising and water quality is going down. For us, it’s going to affect our kids.”

The students also worked with a professional from the community water resource center with the University of Idaho in Coeur d’Alene, some waterkeepers, and received a history lesson from Quanah Matheson, the cultural director for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

The district’s superintendent, Matt Handelman, accompanied the students on their field trip to learn a thing or two about water quality for himself. He also tagged along to see the great effects of experiential education.

“This plays a major role in connecting their learning to the real world,” he said of the Outdoor Studies Program. “The goal is to have a space where this can be the main thing for the school instead of a side thing.”

Lake City High School teacher Jamie Esler instructs Lake City juniors Josh Weadick, left, and Lenna Reardon on how to test water samples from the Spokane River on Tuesday at Blackwell Island. The students were testing the oxygen levels in the water as part of an outdoor studies class.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Aerial officers

May 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press By BRIAN WALKER Staff Writer COEUR d'ALENE — Scenarios in which police use drones for investigations keep going up and up. Idaho State Police, which is about a year into its program of using unm...


Read More

Trial set for LCHS ex-teacher

May 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press A late summer trial is scheduled for a former Lake City High School science teacher who faces lewd conduct charges. A two-week jury trial will begin Aug. 26 for Jeffrey L. Kantola, who is charged wi...


Read More

Once a pilot ...

May 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press By RALPH BARTHOLDT Staff Writer In his 88 years, John Vasilchin piloted more than 35 planes, from jets to freighters. But the former Air Force fighter pilot who flew more than 200 combat mission...


Read More

North Idaho Revisited: Dan Clark, a Cd’A gem

May 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press COEUR d’ALENE — Dan Clark never imagined himself as a jeweler. But it was a foregone conclusion even as a pre-teen. “All my dad did was work, so if I wanted to hang out with him, I had to hang out...


Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy