August 7, 2009
It was called “The Love of Learning Boat” by the Bay City Times before our journey had even begun. Several newspapers had the same announcement printed and posted on their websites. “Fifteen teachers from seven Great Lakes states are preparing for a week-long Lake Huron Shipboard and Shoreline Science workshop aboard the Lake Guardian, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research vessel.” This was the tagline, but it barely came close to hinting at what our week would be comprised of. Sure, just spending a week on an EPA research vessel sounds really cool, but nowhere did anyone print that we would have first-hand presentations from over 15 experts on different Great Lakes topics during our time onboard. It never said that scientists would be traveling from several states to accompany us on our learning adventure, and never was it mentioned that we would be doing first-hand data collection during the week from different stations on Lake Huron. Yes, the information we learned about the ecology and lakes systems will be implemented into our classrooms, but 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 become encouraged to not be happy just learning in a classroom, but to explore the world around them.
Every teacher is going back to our classroom with a ton of new information and ideas on how to implement our summer learning into our lessons. From 4th grade through 10th, our students will all benefit from the week their teachers spent onboard the R/V Lake Guardian. Some will focus on the history, others on the creatures living in the water, and many will learn about the changes that have happened and are still happening in this wonderful ecosystem. The main thing, though, is that the students will be taught about an important part of the world around them. It was amazing to hear that the majority of the states we came from did not have specific standards addressing the Great Lakes when each of the represented states was touching at least one of the waterways. The group projects and concept maps for the week focused our attention on how we are going to incorporate our knowledge into classroom lessons this school year. Because of the COSEE Lake Huron Shipboard and Shoreline workshop, over 1000 students will be learning more about the Great Lakes than even their teachers might have known before the week-long journey on the Lake Guardian.
We pulled into Milwaukee this morning and said our goodbyes to each other, the crew, and the wonderful people that had made this adventure possible. Each one of us received a certificate acknowledging our participation in the COSEE Lake Huron Shipboard and Shoreline Workshop, and we took group pictures to help us remember the people we shared a week of our lives with learning about the Great Lakes system. Some stayed to go on a tour of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes WATER Institute while others had planes, trains, or busses to catch for the trip home. A group of 5 of us took a ferry back to Michigan and a drive home. No matter what method we chose to return us to our families, we took with us a wealth of knowledge and memories that will last a lifetime.