Lake Erie Exploration - Day 7 (Friday, July 24th)

July 24, 2009

How are we going to use all this information?

Today is the last day of the Lake Erie Exploration Workshop and now we have to figure out how to bring everything we learned this week into the classroom. To do this, we broke up into four groups based upon topic or target audience and we developed some ideas and lesson plans to teach the Great Lakes in our classrooms. Here are some of the ideas that we came up with:

Group #1: Shari Tennies, Rose Stark, Garry Dole, Cheryl Symans, and Carol Ward


The educators in group one were from a variety of different backgrounds. Some teach in formal classrooms and others work at nature centers or as teacher support specialists. As a group they decided that their target audience would be elementary students and here are some of their ideas.

• A “Is this person a scientist? “ hallway display showing pictures of scientists that we met throughout the week. Students would guess which picture was a scientist and then learn that they are all scientists. This would be great to show that scientists are “real people” too and it is an obtainable career no matter who you are.
• A coral reef sedimentation activity to show that the sediment and pollution that we add to our rivers, lakes, and streams eventually makes it out to the ocean and can damage our coral reefs.
• Adding Lake Erie and Great Lakes curriculum to existing ecology, land and water, and rocks and mineral units.
• Field trips to Lake Erie and other smaller local lakes to do water testing and microscope activities.
• Class adopt-a-beach clean-ups.
• An erosion activity where students look at maps and aerial photographs to measure the rate at which the beaches in their area are eroding.
• New exhibits featuring Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes at the nature center.

Group #2: Heather Gee, Amanda Whitener, Carrie Caspio


The educators in group two also came from a variety of backgrounds. One is a junior high math teacher, one is a pre-service teacher completing an internship with NOAA, and the last one is an educator with the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland. Together they planned out a water unit with three themes and then developed lessons within each of those themes.

• #1 – Where does water come from?
- Introduction activities on the water cycle and states of matter.
- “Incredible Journey” activity following a water molecule through the water cycle.
- Math activities on determining the volume of the Great Lakes and graphing data from a irrigation lab.

• #2 – Where does water go?
- Food web activities.
- A lab comparing ocean sand and sand found in the Great Lakes.
- A fish dissection.
- Guest speakers from the water and sewer boards.
- Math activities on plating the bacteria found in water and counting colonies and analyzing temperature change in the layers of the lake.
- Paddle to the Sea book and corresponding curriculum.

• #3 – Where do I fit in?
- Calculating your water use and the amount of personal care products that you use in a day.
- Invasive species and point versus non-point pollution activities.
- Decision making activities for younger students.

Group #3: Mary Draves, Eugene Genco, Todd Patterson


The educators in group three were all high school educators and they chose to create a three week unit on the Great Lakes.

• Week 1 – The Physical Characteristics of the Lakes
- Review the location of the great lakes using local to world maps.
- Use Pat Dailey’s “Great Lakes Song” as an introduction to the unit.
- Constructing “Great Lakes Cakes” project using various cakes, dyes, frostings, and candies to show the characteristics of each of the Great Lakes.
- Great Lake teams where the class is broken up into the five lakes and they research their specific lake and become a “specialist” on their lake.

• Week #2 – Water Quality
- Lake stratification demonstration.
- Water sampling and using the data to determine the water quality of the body of water.
- A seine simulation.
- A macroinvertebrate lab using a leaf pack left in a stream for a week.

• Week #3 – Life in the Great Lakes
- Invasive species research and invasive species puzzle.
- Plotting on a map where the invasive species come from and why.
- Fish: fish stories, external anatomy of a fish, using dichotomous keys to identify fish.
- A narrative where students write about a water molecule’s journey from your house all the way to the lake or from Duluth to the Atlantic Ocean.
- A personal reflection on their impact and lives within the Great lakes basin.

Group #4: Cindi Wallendal, Kathy Bosiak, and Leigh Anne Wycoff


The educators in group four were either junior high or high school educators and they chose to focus on the geology of the Great Lakes for their lesson planning. Here are some of their ideas:
• Using the Great Lakes as a culminating unit at the end of 8th grade Earth Science to tie everything that they learned during the school year into a local topic.
• Make cards with pictures and information on the major events that occurred during geologic times in the Great Lakes basin and have the students try to put them in order.
• Using the football field to make a scale model of geologic time with great lake events.
• Using fossils to recreate the history of the Great Lakes and comparing our fossils to fossils found in other places (specifically North Carolina).
• Making and using dichotomous keys to identify fossils and modern day organisms.
• Linking geology to life science and the field of taxonomy to study animal phyla.
• Analyzing fossils to determine what type of environment they must have lived in.

Ah ha Moments

All in all it was a great week. We are all experts on Lake Erie and now we have the job of creating Lake Erie experts out of our students. Throughout the week there were many ah ha moments where a light bulb turned on in our heads. We can only hope that our experiences in this past week will help us to do the same for our students. Here are a sampling of some of our ah ha moments.

• Seeing a glacial groove and experiencing the true power of how glaciers carve our landscapes.
• Coming to the end of the road and finding a cliff instead of a the continuation of the road. Coastal Erosion!
• Male gobies change color when they spawn.
• Usually oceans are pointed to when we talk about the impacts of bodies of water on the weather. The Great Lakes also have a huge impact on our weather.
• There are fossils of organisms that lived in salt water seas 400 million years ago in Ohio!
• Things that we use everyday like shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, toothpaste, etc… can affect our lakes and drinking water.
• There are billions of round gobies in the Great Lakes! I didn’t know that the invasive species problem was that bad.

A Thank You

We would not have had this experience if it were not for the hard work by several individuals. We would like to thank all the scientists who gave their time to teach us about their research and we look forward to bringing their research to our students. We would also like to thank the staff at TREC in Erie, PA and the staff at the Stone Lab on Gibraltar Island. They were amazing and both locations were excellent for learning about Lake Erie. Lastly, we would like to thank the Sea Grant staff, who spent hundreds of hours organizing and perfecting this workshop. Rosanne, Marti, Helen, Lyndsey, and Howard…we and our students thank you so much!


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