Meet ‘Bubbles’: Rapid City Elementary hosts and studies a young sturgeon

Courtesy photo

Classroom fish “Bubbles” is an early stage juvenile sturgeon, or a "fingerling." Now less than a foot in length, Bubbles could grow to be as long as eight feet and weigh nearly 300 pounds.


RAPID CITY – Some classrooms get hamsters. Some classrooms get turtles. The classrooms at Rapid City Elementary got a sturgeon.

The school collaborated with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTTB), Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative, and the SEEDS After School program to host a juvenile sturgeon until it was ready to be released into the Black River.

The Nme Teachings curriculum is designed by the LTTB; nme means Lake Sturgeon in Anishinaabemowin.

"We want students and educators alike to gain knowledge on the cultural significance of Nme through time," explained Amanda Weinert, the LTBB curriculum specialist.

“This project connects Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) with Western STEM/STEAM goals by caring for a Nme, a Lake Sturgeon fingerling. Students learn about the history and importance of treaties, and treaty rights of tribal citizens, as well as critical thinking and problem solving skills,” she added.

And school personnel are embracing the effort.

"Our students will be weighing and measuring the sturgeon each week and testing the water quality in the fish tank,” said Rapid City Elementary Principal Laura Kwekel.

“We'll incorporate the cultural study of the sturgeon with our Michigan history lessons,” she added.

"The kids love it!" said Brett Bontrager, SEEDS After School Coordinator at Rapid City Elementary. "The students were very excited to meet the sturgeon and help take care of it. They prepared for weeks, meeting their benchmarks for tank water quality."

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