Educators Embark on a Superior Science Expedition

Written by Cindy Hagley, Minnesota Sea Grant, for the University of Minnesota's Minnegram Newsletter

Fifteen lucky teachers and informal educators conducted Great Lakes research firsthand as they cruised Lake Superior for a week in July on the U.S. EPA research vessel, Lake Guardian, as part of a program of workshops co-led by Minnesota Sea Grant. The workshops offered explorations of the ecology, geology, geography, weather, and biogeochemical processes of lakes Huron and Superior, with particular emphasis on human impacts and parallels between Great Lakes and ocean systems. Participants collected planktonic and benthic organisms and analyzed water quality data. Educators worked side-by-side with Jay Austin, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and at the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth, with U.S. EPA scientists, and with University of Minnesota faculty in the Water Resources Science program.

The educators learned a great deal about the science of the Great Lakes, and returned to shore full of ideas about how to transform their summer learning into lessons, but, as one teacher said, "We will take much more from it than that. Each one of us will take back the experience of truly being scientists for a week, and with that we will help our students grow and encourage them not just to be happy learning in a classroom, but to explore the world around them."

The Shipboard and Shoreline Science educational cruise is one of many workshops offered by the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Great Lakes and is funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The R/V Lake Guardian cruises are offered in partnership with the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office.