A group of students are diving deep into the blue-green algae problem in Minot.

10th grade biology honor students from Minot’s Central Campus recently had the chance of a lifetime, testing the water so to speak, and their data collection could help on a world-wide scale.

“We actually signed up. It was an option for a few students. They asked for volunteers, and I guess we just all decided it would be a fun opportunity though biology to learn more about our river,” Grace Kersten.

For the past 10 years, the biology department has been collecting data, but for the first time, they are sharing it on an international level.

“We’re measuring phosphorus and dissolved oxygen levels in the river. We’ve done the chemical tests and we will be sending those up to Canada to be further reviewed,” said Isabelle Von Osterheldt.

The project is through the Lake Winnipeg Foundation. Minot is the first school in the U.S. to participate in the projects, alongside schools in Canada. The goal of retrieving the samples is to stop a growing problem.

“We would like to know how much phosphorus is added in the Souris River to the red river, that flows up to Lake Winnipeg. In Lake Winnepeg, we have some big algae blooms,” said Joe Super, a biology teacher at Central Campus.

Algae blooms are common in lakes and rivers, but blue-green algae is a different story. It can cause the death of animals and put a halt on recreational use. So what’s the connection? Phosphorus is what causes unwanted algae.

“If it’s lower than 5 percent, that’s when fish start to die and that’s when the river is a dead zone.
So ours was around 6.8, so we are at a pretty decent spot,” said Mikkail Nehring.

Super says they are trying to get other schools in the state involved in collecting samples like Fargo, and although students got to only spend a few hours outside the classroom they are excited to be apart of history.

“It’s cool to be apart of something that will eventually be apart of government data,” added Nehring.

Schools as far as 500 miles north of Minot are involved as well. Because of the pandemic, students from Minot won’t be able to meet with them in-person to discuss their findings but will meet over teleconferencing calls instead.