Lake Erie Exploration - Day 4 (Tuesday, July 21th)

July 21, 2009

Make Room for More!

That’s how we felt today as it was jam packed with tons of new information, new equipment, and new vocabulary. With four scientists/speakers, lab demonstrations, field experiences, history lessons, and cultural connections our minds were full to the brim by the end of the day.

Our day began with Dr. Darren Bade, assistant professor and limnologist from Kent State University. Dr. Bade provided us with an introduction to the physical science of water and the lakes. He constructed a model using water, a fish tank, light, fan and thermometers that demonstrated the effects of light and wind on a body of water. We were able to collect data that demonstrated stratification. We were all wowed when he added the indicator to the tank and we could observe the different currents near the surface and the sinking of some in the colder water at the bottom. We agreed our students would find this exciting and bring a better understanding of what is really happening down below in the great bodies of water- the Great Lakes.

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After getting our boat shoes, suntan lotion, hats and sunglasses we boarded the Stone Lab research boat to put into action some of what we learned in the morning lecture. We headed towards one of the deepest parts of the lake to do testing and data collection. Dr. Bade demonstrated proper techniques in using science equipment to collect dependable data. We measured light penetration using secchi discs. We then compared our findings with a light meter and found that the simple piece of equipment works well. We also tried out an activity that we could use with our students that uses m&m’s to look at light penetration and its affect on color and visibility. We also used probes that took temperature readings and gave us information on dissolved oxygen and the saturation of oxygen. During our testing time the Lake Guardian, EPA research boat, sailed past us. We made phone contact with them and compared our data with them and found that our data was comparable with theirs.

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Dr. Rosanne Fortner provided us an activity to use with our students looking at interactions between the atmosphere and the hydrosphere. We looked at several web sites that students could easily access and gather important real time data to understand how these two parts of the environment affect each other.

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Our minds needed to make more room as Dr. George Bullerjahn and high school student, Grace Miner informed us of their research on glyphosate and phosphonate on fresh water picocyanobacteria. We found out that these nutrients are active ingredients in Round up, a pesticide applied to farm fields. Dr. Bullerjahn is a research scientist at Bowling Green State University. His research is asking the question of what impact these phosphonates have on ecosystems. His research has shown that the toxic cyanobacteria can use them as a nutrient. He brought along a high school student, Grace Minor, who has been mentoring with him and has been part of his research. All the teachers were very impressed with her interest and dedication to science, her abilities to understand the process of science and her communication of her knowledge to us. We all hope to work with a student like that some time in our career.

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We weren’t done yet as Kristin Stanford, alias “The Snake Lady”, impressed us with her fearlessness as she shared with us her passion of rescuing the native water snake. She has been a strong advocate for the snake educating the public. We listened to a new aspect of invasive species, the round goby. Kristin’s research has shown that the water snake’s population is growing due to the increase of the round goby as a food source. Because of their new found diet they have been able to increase their growth rate, body size and survival rate. Looks like they are well on their way to a successful come back. There is a great website to learn more about her work at http://respectthesnake.com.

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After dinner we met Candra Krisch from Ohio State Multicultural Studies department. She shared with us her Native American heritage and how science plays apart of it. We learned about indigenous knowledge that is built on observations over a long period of time and traditional ecological knowledge that is long term contacts with their environment. She shared with us many of her family and personal items that demonstrated her culture and history. Her discussion enlightened us to open our minds to understanding the culture of all of our students.

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We weren’t done yet! One more stop to the International Peace Memorial located at Put-in-Bay. We enjoyed our water taxi ride over to the island and a short walk to the memorial. Here we took the elevator to the top of the monument. Our personal park rangers gave us the history of Perry’s war, the monument itself and gorgeous views of the islands and of course, the beautiful great lake-Lake Erie.

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Did you know?
- Kristin Stanford, “snake lady”, starred in the TV show, Dirty Jobs by Mike Rowe, and reached millions of people educating them about the endangered Lake Erie Water Snake. Her show was the #2 most viewed show in the history of Dirty Jobs.
- Most scientists are normal looking people.
- The herbicide, round-up, kills plants on land, but it can actually cause as increase in plant life in the water.

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