The 2014 Great Lakes Education Program – don’t miss the boat!

The Great Lakes Education Program begins its 24th year of advancing Great Lakes literacy among K-12 students throughout southeast Michigan.

Visit the Great Lakes Education Program website to learn about how you might be able to experience a Great Lakes education cruise.

Visit the Great Lakes Education Program website to learn about how you might be able to experience a Great Lakes education cruise.

Since 1991, the Great Lakes Education Program (GLEP) has introduced more than 97,000 K-12 students, teachers and adult chaperones to the unique features of the Great Lakes through a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experience. The program is designed to stimulate interest in the Great Lakes and help students and adults understand their role in protecting these vital freshwater resources.  By the end of this year, we should hit the 100,000 participant mark!

Winner of both the John A. Hannah Award for MSU Extension Program Excellence and a National 4-H Program of Distinction Award, the Great Lakes Education Program is seen as a leader in vessel-based education. The program was developed as a collaborative effort between Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a host of K-12 teachers and education specialists. It has served as a national model for implementing effective vessel-based education, as when in 2001, Texas Sea Grant used the Great Lakes Education Program as the developmental model for its Floating Classroom Program.

GLEP logo image.The GLEP has documented program outcomes through university research and seasonal assessments. Michigan State University (MSU) research, conducted through the Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, found a highly significant increase in Great Lakes knowledge on the part of students, and a significant increase in girls’ positive attitudes toward the Great Lakes. A second MSU study investigated ways to strengthen GLEP education and ensure the sound development of similar programs in the Great Lakes region. And a third MSU study found participants effectively shared knowledge learned with family members and friends, and the parents of participants scored significantly higher on the Great Lakes behavior intentions scale than parents of non-participants.

Annual seasonal evaluations of the program are conducted with GLEP teachers and adult chaperones. Teacher evaluations have shown that their participation results in a high incidence of increased Great Lakes subject matter used in the classroom. Teachers also report the GLEP curriculum provides excellent support for addressing Michigan’s Grade Level Content Expectations and Great Lakes Literacy principles. The 2013 teacher evaluations found that following GLEP participation, 95 percent shared GLEP information with other teachers; 92 percent felt a greater responsibility for the Great Lakes; 83 percent included more Great Lakes science content in their classroom; 32 percent visited the Great Lakes more often; and 33 percent involved their students, or were involved themselves, in new Great Lakes stewardship activities.

In 2013, student evaluations were done in Wayne County and analyzed by the Michigan 4-H Youth Development office. Results showed that among the 1,101 students surveyed, 93.3 percent either Agreed or Strongly Agreed with the statement “I feel more knowledgeable about Great Lakes science” following their GLEP education. And following their GLEP experience, 89.1 percent Agreed/Strongly Agreed that “I like science,” 83.5 percent Agreed/Strongly Agreed that “I am good at science,” 43.4 percent Agreed/Strongly Agreed that “I would like to have a job related to science,” and 51 percent Agreed/Strongly Agreed that “I do science activities that are not for school.”  Student evaluations will include Macomb County in 2014.

The 2014 Great Lakes Education Program begins its 24th year this April, and classes can still register for both our Lake St. Clair and lower Detroit River locations. To register your class or obtain more information, visit the GLEP website. Be sure to check out other opportunities MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant offer to learn more about our Great Lakes, such as our Summer Discovery Cruises and 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp.