Educators explore Great Lakes watershed science during Lake Huron adventure (Part 2 of 3)

Lake Huron educators take a watershed approach in exploring student learning opportunities through educational Great Lakes science and stewardship opportunities.

While kayaking the river and wading coastal wetlands in waders, twenty enthusiastic educators took to the waters of Lake Huron with Great Lakes scientists to explore how water scieTeachers doing field research image.nce and studies can benefit student learning. These Great Lakes water science experiences were part of the 2013 Lake Huron Place-Based Education Summer Teacher Institute (see part 1 of story), hosted August 5 - 8 in northern Michigan at the University of Michigan Biological Station

Exploring Great Lakes watersheds, from top to bottom, was the focus of one water-based day for these teachers. Starting in Burt Lake, they kayaked downriver and through the town of Indian River. Before the day was up, they found themselves exploring a coastal Great Lakes wetland in Cheboygan, where this watershed feeds into Lake Huron. Along the way, teachers compared and contrasted a diversity of water habitats g from inland lakes, rivers, to coastal wetland habits – such as differing aquatic life.

Teachers explored multiple water stewardship-focused student projects in action, and considered many prospective place-based learning project possibilities throughout the watershed as they spoke with research scientists, community partners, and fellow educators.  Their watershed day included:

Teachers kayaking and learning about Clean Marinas in Michigan image.Sponsored by the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and Michigan Sea Grant Extension , the Center for Great Lakes Literacy and Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, this workshop offered educators  opportunities to enhance Great Lakes literacy through place-based education strategies – a better understanding of the Great Lakes and our interconnections with these water resources. As another school year gets underway, these teachers are already sharing their Great Lakes experiences and learning opportunities with their students. 

One teacher from Southeast Michigan is now collaborating with the Clinton River Watershed Council, where her students are supporting water-monitoring efforts.  From the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, two different teams of middle school teachers are preparing their students for adopt-a-beach monitoring and clean-up projects in their communities this fall, one in Alpena and another in Oscoda. A third Northeast teacher will be taking her high school chemistry students out onto Thunder Bay Lake Huron, embarking on a research trip to study microplastics (plastic pollution) in the Great Lakes. 

In reflection, a teacher noted that the on-the-water experiences were the most valuable part of her workshop experience, sharing that these types of experiences can help make learning real and concrete for students. Incorporating these experiences back at her school, she aims to make science-learning come alive to engage and inspire the next generation of Great Lakes stewards. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series, where teachers explore Great Lakes fisheries learning opportunities connected with the ancient and threatened Lake Sturgeon!

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