Teachers explore Lake Huron during shipboard science workshop aboard the R/V Lake Guardian

Join fourteen educators as they investigate the waters and ecology of Lake Huron aboard the R/V Lake Guardian in the first of a three part article series - Part 1 of 3.

Part 2 of 3

Collaborating with colleagues of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators Steve Stewart and Brandon Schroeder developed the funding proposal, led the planning, and are now implementing a week long workshop for educators aboard the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 180-foot research vessel (R/V) Teachers aboard R/V Lake GuardianLake Guardian. Why involve educators in a workshop aboard a research vessel? To help them learn about the Great Lakes and Great Lakes research, work with leading research scientists, and prepare them to take their new knowledge and experience back to the classroom and their students next school year. It’s all about advancing Great Lakes literacy – better understanding the Great Lakes and our interconnections with these water resources.

The educators will experience hands-on and feet-wet opportunities to monitor planktonic and benthic organisms and water quality. And, as they consider questions about the Lake Huron food web, they will deploy sampling equipment to gather and analyze data to better understand and communicate their findings. From Alpena, Michigan, the educators will sail to Saginaw Bay, then to the lower portion of Lake HuResearchers on board the R/V Lake Guardianron, then head north to Georgian Bay, and finally back out onto open Lake Huron and its northern reaches before returning to Alpena. 

In only their first days, educators have hoisted water samples to record chemical (e.g., dissolved oxygen and pH) and physical (e.g., temperature and light penetration) factors. Using plankton nets and a PONAR bottom grab, they collected and sorted through the smallest life of Lake Huron including phytoplankton and zooplankton (small plants and animals that live in the water and on the bottom), as well as larval fish (recently hatched). Using trawling gear and gill nets, they also focused higher on the food chain looking for forage (prey) fish and the larger predator fish that feed upon them. Aside partnering with U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, educators’ research experience involves connecting and working with scientists from: University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, Michigan State University Department of Geography, NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Lake Huron Fisheries Research Station, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

What have they found? You can follow the teachers and their research cruise on Lake Huron at http://coseegreatlakes.net/weblog/. Michigan Sea Grant Extension offers many opportunities for educators to learn about the Great Lakes and better teach about the Great Lakes. If you want to learn more about the Great Lakes Literacy principles that are the core of this exciting workshop, visit http://greatlakesliteracy.net/ today!

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