Family ties to projects: MAES sixth graders study Minnesota
Their families inspired them.
Alexander Sperr's dad Greg told him about a lake that once existed near Herman. Maggie Schmidgall's family told her about her great-grandparents who immigrated from Finland. The two sixth-grade students at Morris Area Schools used that information for their Minnesota History projects presented May 14 at the school.
"I learned that Herman had a beach that I didn't know about," Alexander Sperr said. The beach was created by Lake Agassiz "One day when we were driving he (dad) told me about it," the student said.
Alexander Sperr made a display about the lake that existed 10,000 years ago. He also completed a report about the ancient lake.
The lake stretched from the Hudson Bay and down most of Minnesota, Alexander Sperr said.
"The lake was about one mile north of Herman," Greg Sperr said. He grew up in Herman and he learned about the lake in school.
Alexander Sperr's project included photos of what was once a sand beach on Lake Agassiz in Fertile.
"No water but the beach is there," Alexander Sperr said.
He and his dad plan to travel to Fertile to see the beach.
Greg Sperr said fossils can be found in the sand and they can also be found around Herman.
Schmidgall's great-grandparents Johan and Elin Hanslaka immigrated from Finland in 1923. They settled in Myrtle Lake.
"A lot of people went to Tennessee but many came (to Minnesota)," Schmidgall said.
They immigrated "because they wanted to find a new place. They wanted more work because Finland didn't have any work," Schmidgall said.
Schmidgall's display included photos of her great-grandparents, her neighbor Dennis Johnson who is of Finnish descent and Otto Penltonen a Finnish immigrant who wrote about his experience.
"She did a nice job," Martha Hanson, a parent who was looking at Schmidgall's display. "I did learn. My favorite thing was learning about sisu."
Sisu is a Finnish word. "It's kind of a long definition," Schmidgall said.
In short, sisu is the concept that Finnish people say describes their national character of grit, stoic determination, tenacity in purpose and similar characteristics.
Schmidgall's Finnish great-grandparents are on her mother's side of the family. Her grandmother, her mom's mom, was a big help and so was Johnson.