NM Citizen Scientists

Last Updated: 7/9/2018 8:55 PM

Matt Lonsdale teaches Marine Biology at NMHS.  Juniors and seniors in Lonsdale’s class learn science from many different angles. 

For example, students learn how to read articles from science journals.  They discuss the technical meaning of what they have read and also its implications for their role as citizens.  While the students are learning how to read and understand science, Lonsdale also gives them an opportunity to engage with professional scientists so they can put their knowledge to work.

Dave Kangiser is a professional fisheries biologist at the Pacific Northwest Salmon Center (PNWSC) in Belfair.  The PNWSC is located near the headwaters of hood Canal where it meets the mouth of the Union river.  Among Kangiser’s many responsibilities at the PNWSC is the task of documenting the changes that are occurring to the land as it returns to salmon habitat. 

Enter Lonsdale and his students.  They have formed a collaboration with Kangiser and the PNWSC that unites the aims of the Marine Biology class and the educational, research and community outreach mission of the PNWSC. 

Under the direction of Lonsdale and Kangiser, the students have seined the main (newly dug by the engineers last summer) as it is now being shaped by the ebb and flow of the saltwater tides of Hood Canal.  They have collected specimens and are counting and cataloguing the returning marine life.

Add to this the student’s project of comparative soil sampling between the old marsh and the new and we see a further example of how our students are not only studying science, but creating it.  Future generations of North Mason students of Marine Biology will add to the record of natural history that Lonsdale and his students are compiling today.

From the new walkways spanning the wetlands trails where dykes once separated the farm from the marsh, visitors at low tide may occasionally see NMHS students contributing to science.  These students are evidence of the common goal shared by all of our science classes at NMSD.   With the support of our community and with partnerships such as those we enjoy through the PNWSC, our schools hope to educate an entire generation of citizen scientists—scientists who will be  knowledgeable about nature and alert to the implications of their choices for the common good.

John Campbell

Director -District 4

jcampbell@northmasonschools.org