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All aboard for the trip of a lifetime

Kelloggsville students take to lakes on the D.J. Angus

Photography by Dianne Carroll Burdick

Kelloggsville – For a dozen years or so now, Kelloggsville High School teacher John Linker has been taking biology and chemistry students to Harbor Island in Grand Haven to spend the morning aboard the D.J. Angus, a Great Lakes Research vessel maintained by Grand Valley State University.

‘We learned a lot of different things that relate to science, looked at clarity, conductivity, pH levels and oxygen levels, compared Lake Michigan and Spring Lake. Overall, it was great experience, and I would definitely recommend others do it.’

 – Isaac Merdzinski, Kelloggsville junior

Students and Grand Valley instructors stop first in Spring Lake to sample the physical and chemical characteristics of the lake water. Then they head out into Lake Michigan for a mile or two, outside of the plume of the Grand River, to sample the characteristics of the lake. As they return to port, they compare and contrast the samples and discuss the differences and similarities.

Deckhand Tim Halloran helps prepare the Grand Valley State University D.J. Angus boat for Kelloggsville High School students’ visit

Said Linker: “We measure variables like water clarity, turbidity, plankton density, depth and temperature. Inside the lab, we measure variables such as pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphates and conductivity. It’s actual, hands-on, real-life, aquatic field data collection and research. Many of our students have never been on a boat like the D.J. Angus before, let alone out on Lake Michigan. The trip is a perfect connection between classroom instruction and actual applied data collection and science with a purpose.” 

Junior Isaac Merdzinski wholeheartedly agreed.

“The boat trip was such a great experience,” he said. “We learned a lot of different things that relate to science, looked at clarity, conductivity, pH levels and oxygen levels, compared Lake Michigan and Spring Lake. Overall, it was great experience, and I would definitely recommend others do it.”

Science instructor Steve Jablonski instructs students on the use of a Secchi disk, which provides a measurement of water clarity from the surface

For Linker, that’s what it’s all about.

“It has been a great opportunity for students,” he said. “This trip has been the highlight of our year ever since we started coming aboard. The people are great, and the students learn and connect a ton of information. It’s a pretty awesome trip.”

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Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan covers East Grand Rapids and Kelloggsville and is the lead reporter for Grand Rapids. He hails from Exeter, Ontario (but has called Grand Rapids home since 1985) and is the son of a longtime public school teacher who taught both English and machine shop. Phil took both classes at South Huron District High School, but English stuck, and at Calvin College, where he met his wife, Sue, he majored in English and minored in journalism. His background includes both journalism and public relations, including teaching an advertising and PR course at the college level for almost a decade. In the summer of 2019, he began his own writing and communications business, de Haan Communications. In his spare time, Phil plays pick-up hockey and pickleball and tries to keep tabs on his two adult children. Read Phil's full bio

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