Take Note: Amphibian inquiry

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Amphibian Inquiry

It's not easy being green.

Especially if you're a frog in Minnesota.

On a field trip last summer for their nature-studies class, students at the New Country School in LeSueur, Minn., noticed that at least half of the frogs they saw in the area had deformities. Some had malformed appendages or were missing limbs; others had no eyes.

Concerned that the deformities might have been caused by environmental toxins, the students decided to bring their discovery to the attention of state environmental experts and lawmakers.

Earlier this month, they testified at the state legislature, persuading members of a House environment and natural resources committee to approve a $201,000 environmental study of the frog deformities and what might be causing them. The proposed appropriation also includes money for some related educational activities.

Such hands-on lessons in science and government are not uncommon at the year-round school in LeSueur, a rural community once home to the vegetable-processing Green Giant Company. The 2-year-old charter school for grades 7-12 works closely with Designs for Learning, one of the nine design teams that won funding from the New American School Development Corporation to set up innovative schools. (See Education Week, March 15, 1995.)

The students have launched a research effort dubbed "The Frog Project," and they are working with scientists from the state Pollution Control Agency and a University of Minnesota professor to investigate the cause of the frog deformities. They've also been busy giving interviews about their findings to reporters and fielding some unusual inquiries--such as a call from a disc jockey named "Hopalong Cassidy" at FROG Radio, a station in northern Minnesota.

New Country's students have even set up a special site on their school's World Wide Web page about the project. Information is available at http://mncs.k12.mn.us/.

But some of the attention appears to be wearing thin. On the frog site, student Ryan Fisher's comments suggest that he and his peers have been inundated with requests for pictures of the deformed frogs. "The frog pictures are coming," he says. "I'm only 15, and I have a lot of other work to do besides this page."

--Meg Sommerfeld

Vol. 15, Issue 23

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories