Yellowstone Lake is allowing scientists to discover new species of microorganisms on a daily basis. A group of high school science teachers gathered there to do some research of their own. The lake is unlike most in the world. It's a habitat that more closely resembles Earth's oceans.
A group of middle school and high school teachers from across the country got a chance to see the biodiversity of the lake firsthand.
"This is a pretty neat experience, we get to be with some of the most experienced Yellowstone researches around and it's a great opportunity for us to hear about the research going on in the park as well as to then take part in actual research opportunity," said Missoula teacher Brandon Honzel, "which is pretty unique and pretty exciting for those of us that enjoy science."
"It's on of those things where the teachers benefit, they profit from learning, we profit because they're basically doing citizen science on behalf of our project so it's very exciting for us too," said Montana State University Research Scientist, John Varley.
The teachers discovered just how similar Yellowstone Lake is to an ocean, which can partially be explained by the geothermal field recently found under the lake. Those vents make a rich chemistry from deep within the Earth. The spots are more like an ocean than melted snow water.
"The whole idea that there are organisms in this lake that are the same as certain common organisms in the marine environment an in the ocean environment came as a stunning shock to all of us," Varley claimed, "because historically marine and freshwater has been kept strictly separate."
Varley put the likelihood of one of the science teachers discovering a new species in the Yellowstone at one-hundred percent.
"I think that's a really wonderful thing is to take part in some sort of a project like this where science is very active," said Honzel, "I think too often science is taught in a closed curriculum perhaps where its just a dogma almost where you have to learn a bunch of facts and something like this where its coming out and exploring is really what science is all about."