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Houghton High School students take field trip to Quincy Mine to learn about bats

By Jake Swope | WLUC TV6: Oct 22, 2019

HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - Houghton's 10th grade General Biology students are undertaking a year-long project about bats. The project got started after the class received a grant from the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative.

"We're kind of breaking it down across the four quarters of the school year. We're kicking off with a trip to the mine here to see if we see any bats and learn about them, as well as the local geology and mining history. In the second and third quarter they're going to do some informational research about bats," said Jesse Depue, a Biology Teacher at Houghton High School.

The Michigan DNR met with the students to teach them more about Michigan’s bat population and how the Quincy mine plays a role in that.

"Quincy Mine at one point was a fairly well populated hibernation site for bats during the winter months. Somewhere between 5,000 to 8,000 bats that we could count, potentially more as we couldn't get to all areas of the mine," said John Depue, a Wildlife Biologist with the Michigan DNR.

Students also learned about White Nose Syndrome, which has impacted Michigan bats.

"White nose syndrome is a disease caused by fungus that has caused significant declines in bat populations across North America. We have some hypotheses that the fungus came from Europe, and it’s causing a huge impact here," said John Depue.

The students' teacher is excited to see this kind of learning happening in a more hands-on environment.

"We want them to practice science and engineering skills and not just learn about science but get out and actually do it. They'll get a chance to collect some information, but also do some research of their own, collect data, and analyze it," said Jesse Depue.

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