Youth Energy Squad
Algae Blooms & Our Great Lakes
Context: The most commonly discussed impacts of climate change focus on higher temperatures, flooding, and extreme weather. Another important climate impact facing Southeast Michigan is the increase of algae blooms in ponds and lakes. Algae are small, photosynthetic organisms (meaning they create energy from the sun like plants) that live in water in a group. Algae blooms are a result of pollutants and rising temperatures, creating a perfect environment in our freshwater bodies for rapid algae growth. These algae blooms then release harmful toxins that impact fish, humans, and other living organisms. This activity provides more background on algae blooms and how we can address them.
Goals: Grade Level: 9th-12th
Learn about algae blooms
Understand the impacts of human activities on freshwater ecosystems
Think critically about potential solutions
(optional) Paper and writing utensil
Instructions: Take the time to watch the following short video on toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. Afterwards, answer the following reflection questions.
What are the negative effects of toxic algae blooms? Think of both humans and ecosystems.
What causes algae blooms?
How do they affect drinking water?
Historically, what was the natural environment of Detroit and Southeast Michigan like before settlers arrived? What did they do to change the land to what we know today? (If you need more information for this question, check out this short article: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/a_history_of_wetlands_in_michigan_part_3_hintzen15)
What is the Rights of Nature Movement? How did this come into play with Lake Erie?
Do you think it’s important to give nature ‘rights’? How could these rights be used?
Can you think of other solutions to prevent harmful algae blooms?