School for Scientists 2009

This year's theme at the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) conference in Toledo, OH was "Bridging Ecosystems and Environmental Heath across our Great Lakes." The theme of building bridges was carried over into the COSEE School for Scientists session on May 21st at the IAGLR conference. The session was designed to bridge the gap between scientist and educators. Scientist-educator pairs described their experiences working together to bridge the gap, and provided advice and examples to colleagues interested in building their own toolkits for engaging in educational outreach.

The program began with teacher Theresa Bills developing a list of statements about teaching and learning science. As scientists in the audience responded Agree or Disagree, the exercise set the stage for Theresa's presentation with Rosanne Fortner on Pedagogy 101. Teacher involvement, along with scientists speaking about education issues, were keys to the School for Scientists´┐Ż success throughout the day!

Steve Stewart from Michigan Sea Grant and Ms. June Teisan, a middle school science teacher, presented "No Scientist Left Behind: Standards 101 (What every scientist needs to know about education standards)." This presentation highlighted how scientists and teachers can work together to meet their goals. Scientists can optimize their funding opportunities by sharing their research with educators. Educators can then utilize this research in the classroom by incorporating it into their pedagogical practices.

Dave Hart, Wisconsin GIS specialist, and Pat Kania, a high school teacher who uses Google Earth in his curriculum, presented "GEE: A partnership for Google Earth in Education." They demonstrated how a partnership between scientists and teachers can be utilized by taking curriculum from various subjects and enhancing it with interactive Google Earth applications. Some of the topics included erosion on Lake Erie, the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, water quality in Old Woman Creek, songbird migration, a virtual field trip along a river, and comparison of fresh and salt water fish.

As for scientists speaking for education, kudos go to

  • Bill Edwards from Niagara University, who recounted how the needs of his undergraduate students have influenced how he presents his science,
  • Russell Cuhel and Carmen Aguilar, who wowed us with video of research that engages teachers in learning about invasive species ecology,
  • Beth Hinchey Malloy and Jackie Adams, whose experiences with teachers aboard the Guardian have taken them to informal and classroom settings for follow-up, and
  • Rochelle Sturtevant and Ann Marshall for their modification of GLERL datasets to make them useful in classrooms.

Another highlight of the session was a presentation by the Lake Erie Partnership of outreach and education leaders about how researchers can use the Lake Erie Literacy Principles and Concepts to enhance the broader impacts of their science. For more about Lake Erie Literacy, visit

Credits: Photos and some text by Ann Marshall