Great Lakes Classroom Activities Enhance Science Learning

May 1, 2007

Source: (217) 244-8809;
(614) 581-7684

URBANA - Did you know that the Great Lakes make up the largest surface fresh water system on earth? Educating students about ocean and Great Lakes topics can enhance their math and science skills and foster a stewardship ethic, which is key to the wise use of these resources, according to the 2004 Ocean Commission report. A new collection of classroom activities makes these goals that much easier.

The Greatest of the Great Lakes is a CD-ROM of 41 multidisciplinary activities for grades 4-10 that bridge science with math, geography, environmental studies and language arts. Funded through COSEE Great Lakes (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence), this collection offers insight into current Great Lakes concerns, as well as potential solutions.

“These Great Lakes activities have been in existence for some time, but haven’t been discovered by many educators,” said Rosanne Fortner, COSEE project leader and professor emeritus, The Ohio State University. “We chose activities that have been used in classrooms successfully over the years and that address COSEE science goals.”

The collection is designed to enhance a number of learning skills, including inquiry, data interpretation, hypothesis development and decision making. Activities chosen for this collection have been aligned by classroom teachers to state and national science and earth system standards.

“Classroom activities included in The Greatest of the Great Lakes are organized to make the collection more user-friendly for teachers,” said Terri Hallesy, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant education specialist and co-coordinator of this curriculum project. “We recognize that teachers are busy. They can easily look for activities by grade, instructional mode or subject matter, for example.”

COSEE Great Lakes is part of a network of regional centers that have been established, in part, to promote a vision of ocean education as a way to foster a more scientifically literate workforce and citizenry. Funding from the National Science Foundation and NOAA-National Sea Grant is divided among seven programs that make up the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network: Illinois-Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Next, the COSEE team will create Fresh and Salt, a collection that includes ocean and Great Lakes classroom activities. “The idea is that ultimately, students on the ocean coasts will learn about the Great Lakes and Great Lakes students will learn about the oceans,” explained Fortner. Educators interested in reviewing and pilot testing Fresh and Salt activities can contact Terri Hallesy at or (217)244-8809.

If you would like to order The Greatest of the Great Lakes, send your request and a $15 check payable to the University of Illinois to Susan White, 388 NSRC, 1101 W. Peabody Dr, Urbana, IL 61801. Call (217) 333-9441 or email for more information on the CD-ROM.