Real-Time Lake Learning Gets Google-d (Day 1)

July 25, 2010

Early this afternoon, fifteen 4th -10th grade teachers and other educators from around the Great Lakes basin arrived at the University of Buffalo in New York to take part in 2010’s Lake Ontario Exploration Workshop. The week-long event is presented by New York Sea Grant (NYSG) and the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Great Lakes and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Teachers came from as nearby as Buffalo and other areas in Erie County (Hamburg, Grand Island, Angola, Springville and Williamsville) to as far as North East Pennsylvania and Carolina Beach, North Carolina, the latter through an exchange program where a teacher from the marine environment comes to learn about the freshwater Great Lakes and vice versa. Others arrived from Rochester and the Oswego area, as well as Conesus (in NY’s Livingston County, north of Dansville) and Dunkirk (in Chautauqua County, bordered on the north by Lake Erie).

Fifteen 4th -10th grade teachers as well as other educators round out the group for 2010's Lake Ontario Exploration Workshop

In just the first few hours of the workshop, the teachers were sharing how much they were already learning, one saying, “I am astounded at how little I actually know about the awesome features Mother Nature created just outside my backyard. It’s incredible the impact that glaciers have had in what we’re witnessing today in this area.” This teacher is reflecting on a geology lesson on the Great Lakes, which I’ll cover tomorrow.

This is the second time in as many years that I (NYSG’s Science Writer and Web Content Manager, Paul C. Focazio) have had the opportunity to shadow a group of teachers and educators as they discover all they have yet to learn (and take stock in what they currently know) about Lake Ontario and the vast Great Lakes system. My first experience was aboard the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 180-foot R/V Peter L. Wise Lake Guardian in July 2008 for some “Shipboard and Shoreline Science on Lake Ontario” (see COSEE blog entries and NYSG’s event follow-up resources). Through this week, though, I’ll make a number of stops along the lakeshore with this new group of teachers (and our leader, NYSG’s Coastal Education Specialist Helen Domske) instead by foot (and, for those more distant excursions, by van, of course).

As you’ll see in the clickable Google Map below, the members of our group have quite an extensive itinerary laid out before them - from stops in the Buffalo region (including Fort Niagara State Park, the Aquarium of Niagara and, even around Niagara Falls) to stops in Rochester (like its Museum of Science) and Oswego (such as its eastern Lake Ontario’s sand dunes and the Salmon River). Along the way, educators will meet with a number of researchers and other local specialists. We welcome you to join us for the journey, so be sure to check back daily for updates on our group’s Lake-learning experiences.

View the activities for “2010’s Lake Ontario Exploration Workshop” as a larger, more detailed map

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