Educators explore Great Lakes science during Lake Huron adventure

Lake Huron educators and Great Lakes scientists explore opportunities to enhance student learning opportunities through educational Great Lakes stewardship opportunities.

School started early for twenty enthusiastic educators who participated in the 2013 Lake Huron Place-Based Education Summer Teacher Institute hosted August 5-8th in northern Michigan at the UofM Biological Station. It was an exciting week for teachers exploring place-based stewardship education and Great Lakes literacy. With scientists, they waded Great Lakes coastal wetlands, hiked schoolyard habitats, studied threatened lake sturgeon, sampled food webs from invertebrate insects to predatory smallmouth bass, and deployed underwater robotics to investigate underwater environments.

Collaborating with colleagues of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and the Center for Great Lakes Literacy, Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators Steve Stewart and Brandon Schroeder developed the funding proposal, facilitated the planning, and supported implementation of this four-day teacher workshop. The end goal—a chance for teachers to get their feet wet with Great Lakes science and Teachers participating in 2013 Lake Huron Place Based Education workshop image.literacy principles while learning about place–based education strategies and best practices that can help enhance student learning and involvement in Great Lakes stewardship. 

It’s all about advancing Great Lakes literacy – better understanding the Great Lakes and our interconnections with these water resources. The Lake Huron Place -Based Education Institute was designed to support teachers in:

  • Fostering relationships with the Great Lakes scientists and understanding of Great Lakes Literacy principles
  • Enhancing understanding and strategies for addressing Michigan’s education expectations through quality hands-on Great Lakes stewardship education projects
  • Generating ideas and opportunities for engaging students in place-based learning with (and for the benefit of) their community -- strengthening partnerships between schools and their community

Focused on the Lake Huron watershed, teachers convened from across the Lake Huron watershed basin; representing the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative network and Saginaw Bay area, along with the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition and other Southeast Michigan teachers. During this experience, they explored educational partnerships and place-based project ideas to foster Great Lakes learning with their students in the coming school year. 

The educators experienced opportunities to work and learn alongside leading Great Lakes scientists, along the way considering opportunities to energize their students toward the great lakes and engage their students in environmental stewardship projects. Building relationships with these Great Lakes scientists, teachers worked with Michigan Sea Grant educators from Michigan State University Extension, MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife researchers studying lake sturgeon, coastal wetland ecologists from Central Michigan University’s Institute for Great Lakes Research, and maritime history experts from the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, among others. These scientist connections offer opportunity for teachers to bring their Great Lakes research to life for their students.

Making meaningful connections to the classroom, this program was supported by the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona/Iosco Math & Science Center and mentor teacher Rebecca Heckman from Gaylord Community Schools. As a seasoned educator who successfully applies place-based education strategies to enhance learning for her students, Heckman contributed lessons learned and best practices helping participants to better make Great Lakes science and community partner connections in the classroom. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust’s Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative provided funding for this workshop and project stipends for teachers to implement place-based projects.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension and the regional Center for Great Lakes Literacy offer many opportunities for educators to learn about and better teach about the Great Lakes. Learn more about the Great Lakes Literacy principles that are the core of this exciting workshop, visit today!

Part Two

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