August 8, 2008

Whew! Its the last day of an INCREDIBLE experience, but like all good things, it must end. Or, perhaps, begin? It has been said that, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” COSEE Lake Michigan Exploration participants have been given very much. Now much is expected. Before they return to their communities and classrooms. It was time “pull it all together.” For the past few days, they have been meeting in grade level groups to decipher how they can bring what the scientists have shared this week to a level appropriate for their students. After a final, individual concept mapping session with Howard, the products of these meetings were shared today in final presentations by each grade level group.


Throughout the week, invasive species was a major theme. Now participants must take a cue from the organisms that were studied. May the knowledge that they gathered this week be disseminated as in a manner as prolific as the spread of quagga mussels on the bottom of Lake Michigan! Until next year, coSEE you later!


ZM Shopping Cart.jpg
The elementary group used the photo shown above in their presentation. Many participants have seen and used it in their classrooms previously. Suprisingly, it was originally taken by COSEE’s own, Jim Lubner!

Beth Wilkin shares the following:
1) The videos that every environmental science teacher must view: Strange Days on Planet Earth (National Geographic)
2) A website with many environmental science concepts addressed:

Dr. Roseanne Fortner, COSEE Director, shared a final thought with educators today. These are her words: “Teaching is the highest calling among the professions, yet you do the most with the least resources. On a given day a teacher is far more likely to get a kick in the pants than a pat on the back. You deal with more “scat” than the wastewater treatment plant! Please plan to look to COSEE and Sea Grant when you need that pat on the back. We believe in and support you!”


August 7, 2008

How can you pick a favorite day of the Lake Michigan Exploration Workshop when each day is filled with such wonderful things?! Exploring Shedd Aquarium, fishing for gobies, listening to passionate speakers, and spending time with an impressive group of educators and team members is Day 6’s example of a day in the week of a COSEE workshop. It just doesn’t get any better! Today participants boarded the bus for a trip to visit one of Chicago’s finest attractions: Shedd Aquarium.
They were treated to a back-of-operations tour of the invasive species display,
as well as a bit of free time to explore other exhibits. Prior to these opportunities, Kristin TePas from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant provided an introduction on aquatic invasive species. Dr. Nadine Folino-Rorem from Wheaton College followed.
She shared her research on the Cordylophora caspia, an exotic zooplankton that is found in all of the Great Lakes. Following Dr. Folino-Rorem’s lecture, educators were given “lab time” to make wet mounts of Cordylophora and look at samples using microscopes and hand lenses.
200808070006.jpg 200808070004.jpg
The excitement didn’t end there. Afterwards, everyone grabbed a pole and went fishing for gobies! Several were caught, along with rock bass, small mouth bass, and even another invasive species, the rusty crayfish.
It was a fun and interesting activity that demonstrated the abundance of some of the invasive species living in Lake Michigan. In addition to learning a lot of science today, educators were able to learn about the history and culture of the American Potawatomi Indian tribe from John N. Low, Executive Director of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian.

John presented information on customs and fundamental beliefs of the Potawatomi people. Their connection to the earth and its water was shared. Other features of today’s events included continued group work on concept mapping, focusing on connecting the Ocean Literacy Principles to what has been learned this week; more resources, including a CD of Great Lakes songs to use with students; and time to work with grade level groups on lesson preparation for Friday’s presentations. It was a very busy but beneficial day! The night concluded with more delicious food and a social/wrap-up gathering to start winding down the week. Cindy Hagley helped participants clear up any “fuzzy” information with a fun game of Science Jeopardy, and Richard Tripp shared his observations on the similarities and differences between Lake Michigan and the Atlantic Ocean. Richard is an exchange teacher who traveled from Georgia to experience a COSEE Great Lakes workshop. After Richard’s presentation, Zelda the Zebra Mussel and Helga the Hydrilla joined Barbara Waters for an interview.
Before heading off to bed, group members watched a “home video” of personal reflections on the week and played a lively round of “Write That Caption” for several pictures from the week. It was another incredible day on the shores of Lake Michigan!


The day was filled with many memorable extras….

Cindy Hagley, member of the name tag police, forgot to wear hers today!

Dr. Folino-Rorem: “I LOVE this critter and I keep asking when am I going to get tired of this animal….and it hasn’t happened yet!”

When Richard asked Dr. Folino-Rorem if he should let her know if he find Cordylophora in Georgia, she quickly ran over to him with her business card and said, “I would LOVE to know that!”

Cindi Wallendall found the “Bret Farve” of Cordylophora for her wet mount!

When someone asked Steve Stewart if the first fish caught was a goby, he responded: “No man; that’s lunch!” It was a tiny bass.

Lita, from the urban fishing program commented: “I’m a science teacher too, so I love things that are gross and yucky!”

Jeff offered some fashion advice to Kelli when he suggested she catch a second rusty crayfish because “they make a great pair of earrings”.

Barb gave Anne-Marie a warning while fishing today: “Don’t look down at the water too closely. It brings it all back!” (Barb and Anne-Marie were very seasick on the Neeskay earlier in the week.)

John Low commented: “If you come to the [Mitchell] museum, I promise we’ll smudge you.”

Shara Fata’s memorable moment of the day is, “I caught a fish.”

Stephanie Crook shared this reflection with us: “Today Howard helped me download CMAP. He helped Barb and me get started on using it and we were off to the races! What an amazing program! It makes concept mapping user friendly! Without a doubt I will bring CMAP to my school. But, what was so bloggable about the process was the set up phase. We had so many questions and ideas as the three of us searched the site and tried out applications new even to Howard. What was best was that I think all three of us were learning and contributing to something each will use and spread to cross curricular applications.”


August 6, 2008

A day at the beach was the highlight of Wednesday’s events on Lake Michigan, with wonderful weather and lots of learning! Educators ventured out early in the morning to take a bus to Gary Beach and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to learn more about shoreline features from researcher Todd Thompson.
Todd is a geologist with the Indiana Geological Survey and Indiana University. He shared results of his research to explain the processes of dune succession and help educators better understand the formation and age of coastal dunes. Wendy Smith, a National Parks Service ranger, also worked with participants as they studied wildlife and habitat in the environment.
While on the dunes, the group worked on an activity taken from the “Great Lakes in My World” curriculum they received. They examined features associated with various locations on the dune succession path, focusing on animal and plant life in those areas. Afterwards, they worked on the beach to observe box cores at various distances from the waterline.
While at the dunes, the Paul Douglas Center for Environmental Education Center served as a classroom for the day. Along with studying coastal geology, educators delved further into concept mapping as Howard Walters guided their learning. In addition, they met with their grade level groups to work on lesson planning for Friday’s presentations. When the day’s work was completed, they returned to Chicago for a fabulous dinner at Emilios Tapas. Afterwards, they walked back to the Belden-Stratford to work on nightly journaling and lesson planning, and to rest up for another day of learning. As always, it was a fabulous day of the Lake Michigan Exploration Workshop!


Kelli Polleys: I am so glad that Todd Thompson clarified for us that the dunes around the Great Lakes are formed solely from the erosion and deposition caused by the action of wind and water. Glacial action in the Great Lakes region only provided the sediment for these processes. I am excited to apply what I learned at the Indiana Dunes to the local dunes in my area at the Petoskey State Park. There is a wonderful hike I will take my students on- up and over a forested backdune and out through the swales to the foredune where we will finally end on the beautiful beach of Little Traverse Bay, MI.

Becky Corrigan: I thought it was very poignant when one of the female speakers mentioned that water is the oil of this century…it really illustrates how in general we take our resources for granted.

Richard Tripp: I have seen and learned so many cool things already on the workshop. If it were over at this very moment it would have been worth the time and effort, not to mention the money. I know that it is going to be an astronomical task, but I have decided to take all of my COSEE experiences and create a curriculum that can be useful nationwide. Of course I should take Dr. Russell Cuhel’s advice and “be careful what you wish for” and that “there are a lot of interesting things out there and you have to pick and choose”. Isn’t it great that even in the day we live in there are still a lot of interesting areas yet to be explored or explained? Barb said it best, “We are like sponges soaking up the knowledge to squeeze out on our students”. I may never get to explore the depths of the oceans or these Great Lakes, but who knows… it may just be my student who discovers that here before the unknown of our Great Water World that may change the way we look at our World and maybe even ourselves.


Steve’s feet were propped up on the railing by the back door of the bus today. When the bus driver came back to check on a warning signal she was getting about the doors, Steve took his feet down and suddenly the warning signal stopped! Those are some mighty powerful feet Steve!

“Anybody got any cork?” Todd Thompson asked in hopes to keep Howard quiet. This followed the response he gave to one of Howard’s questions: “You’re ruining my afternoon you know” was the response.

Cindy and Jeff opened their backpacks on the return trip from the dunes today… both contained clipboards from the Paul Douglas Center for Environmental Education Center. Thieves???


Cindi Wallendal’s thoughts of this photo at the Indiana Natural Lakeshore in Gary Indiana: “Who would have ever thought I would be surrounded by photographers in Gary, Indiana. But alas, to be honest the photographers were more excited over the grasshopper than me! After shooting the photographs we found a home for our grasshopper friend back on the marram grass, the prominant grass species found on foredunes of our coastal beaches.”


August 5, 2008

It was a day filled with new information, new resources, and new experiences! Day 4 began with Howard Walters providing the next layer of the concept mapping process, as participants worked to find relationships that link concepts they have learned so far in the Lake Michigan Exploration. This was followed by a quick look at some great websites for retrieving water related data. COSEE team members, Rochelle Sturtevant, Ann Marshall, and Cindy Hagley, demonstrated features of some of the sites and provided a master list for educators to use with their lesson planning. The morning continued with a presentation by Todd Nettesheim from the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office. He shared current research on contaminants in Great Lakes fish, air, and water. Todd’s presentation was followed by Marisol Sepulvida from Purdue University, who explained the effects of these contaminants on aquatic organisms in her lecture on endocrine disruption in fish and wildlife.
Educators were then able to participate in small group discussions with the presenters to ask questions and process topics in more detail.
It was a great opportunity for teachers to identify ways to link research to classroom lessons. The morning wrapped up with a lunch presentation given by Stephanie Smith from the Great Lakes Alliance who provided classroom resources and an explanation of the “Adopt A Beach” program available for teachers.
Following lunch, participants quickly boarded a bus to travel to the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant for a presentation on waste water removal and a tour of the facility. While the field trip provided the backdrop for a few jokes and laughs, everyone learned a lot. It was then time to return to the Nature Museum for a brief look at additional COSEE resources and some sharing and discussion. This was followed by a special opportunity to attend the “Women Writing on the Great Lakes” event hosted at the museum. The program featured guest authors, who shared readings of their work on nature and the Great Lakes. Dinner at R J Grunts and journaling wrapped up the day. It was stimulating day for all five senses!


Jen and Anne-Marie will always remember reading the following email from Jeff while blogging late into the night. Comic relief is a very good thing! Thanks Jeff!

Hi Jen,

I had an idea for a great interactive exhibit they could build at the new Chicago Children’s Museum in Grant Park. The exhibit could be called “The life of a turd”. Kids could slip into a brown wet suit and swirl around a large bowl until they slide down a pipe to a treatment plant, navigate through a bar screen, float in a settling pond, then through a bubbling pond and finally released into the Chicago River.

If kids like water parks and Great America, I think they would love this :-)



Cindy Hagley’s response to issues with advancing PowerPoint slides for Marisol Sepulveda during her presentation, “Oh, I know what’s happening. It’s a Mac.”

Discussion during the Water Reclamation presentation:
COSEE Participant (in reference to street sweeping): “They’re trying to pick out solids there.”
Water Reclamation guide: “That’s nice of them.”

Richard Tripp’s phrase for encouraging students to use more appropriate language in class:
“It begins with ‘S.’
It ends with ‘T.’
You do it, and so do we,
but because of where we are at,
we’ll just call it ’scat.’”


While on today’s tour, Susan and Wendy got a little history on a vocabulary word commonly associated with the Water Reclamation Plant. The term “shit” actually is based in an important concept relating to transporting waste. It comes from the phrase “Ship higher in transit.” This refers to the levels of waste placement while shipping. If waste is in the lower levels of the ship in a small contained environment it will combust, therefore it is important to place it at higher levels for shipping. And we thought it was just a bad word!


August 4, 2008

Each day is filled with excitement and adventure, and Day 3 proved it! After a second lesson in concept mapping with Howard at the start of the day, participants ventured out on the Neeskay
to search for the last remaining zebra mussel in Lake Michigan with researchers Carmen Aguilar and Russell Cuhel. The vessel made a brief stop at GC 30 to collect water samples for chemical and biological analysis and Ponar grabs.
Educators learned to differentiate between a zebra mussel shell and quagga mussel shell while observing today’s sample.

They also did a CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) to measure water parameters at various depths. Then the Neeskay moved to CG 20 to put in an ROV
to collect additional samples and video footage.
Samples were taken from the top surface of a rock as well as the side. Additional water samples were gathered using both the bucket and Niskin bottles. Water clarity also was measured using a Secchi Disc, and educators learned a fun method for relating this to the penetration of various wavelengths of light using M&Ms. This portion of the trip was expedited due to a storm rolling in. However, a last stop was made to take surface water samples before heading back to the harbor. Once back at the Great Lakes Water Institute (much to the relief of a few seasick passengers), educators worked with the samples to document data. Using calipers, they measured the length, width and height of living quagga mussels and searched for the possibility of a final zebra mussel. (It was not to be found!) Groups created morphometric and size distribution plots.
They also visited lab stations to observe zooplankton and witness demonstrations with living mussels and mussel shells.
After dinner, everyone boarded the bus to familiarize themselves with the Ocean Literacy Principles and to watch Paddle to the Sea. Tomorrow’s adventures will resume in Chicago. It was another great day on Lake Michigan!


Theresa Bills: I learned today that a zebra mussel’s length is twice its width and three times its thickness. We measured hundreds of them and graphed the results to discover this correlation. Now that’s cool science!


Barb LaMourea shares: Water on the Web is a website to explore. This website puts archived data from RUSS, an underwater system of testing equipment set at various areas of Minnesota. The site posts a lot of data and also excellent teacher curriculum with background information, as well as excellent student pages. I use this website to enhance my aquatic studies and I also assign homework from the student pages.


Next Page »