Monday, June 25, 2012

Teachers learning about Great Lakes watershed at Michigan Tech Teachers Institute

Michigan Tech's research vessel, the Agassiz, will help teachers learn about Great Lakes water quality during the 5-day Great Lakes Teachers Institute this week. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)

HOUGHTON -- Middle and high school teachers from Michigan and Ohio are spending the week at Michigan Technological University, at a 5-day Great Lakes Teachers Institute. The 14 teachers will learn about the Great Lakes watershed, water quality, wetlands ecology, stream monitoring and more. Then they will work on ways to bring Great Lakes information into their classrooms in an engaging way.

Hands-on activities include a trip on Michigan Tech’s research vessel, the Agassiz, and a research field trip to Gratiot Lake, where the teachers will collect samples and compare the Great Lakes watershed to that of an inland lake.

Dollar Bay High School Enterprise teacher Matt Zimmer and Doug Oppliger, head of Michigan Tech’s High School Enterprise program, will demonstrate the operation of an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) that the high schoolers designed and built. The underwater ROV is used to help National Park Service rangers at Isle Royale National Park locate, monitor and study invasive zebra mussels in the waters of Lake Superior.

Outside the Portage Lake District Library, Dollar Bay science teacher Matt Zimmer, second from left, chats with students, parents and kids during a demonstration of the student-designed Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), or underwater robots, students took to Isle Royale recently. This week teachers at Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Teachers Institute will learn how the robots help monitor and study invasive species. Also pictured are students Justin Rogan, left, and Samantha Richards. Nathan Olson, right, of Hubbell, accompanied his son Riley Olson, 6. (Keweenaw Now file photo)*

Institute leaders include Michigan Tech Professors Alex Mayer and Marty Auer of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Joan Chadde of Tech’s Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education; Bonnie Hay, program director of the Gratiot Lake Conservancy; and graduate student James Bass.   

The teacher institute is sponsored by Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach. Funding is provided by the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, the Gratiot Lake Conservancy and the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.

Twelve teachers from Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota attended a five-day Global Change Teacher Institute at Michigan Tech last week. The institute prepared middle and high school teachers to engage their students in real-world studies of the effects of global change on ecosystems, including the impacts of climatic change on forests due to elevated carbon dioxide and ozone levels, nitrogen saturation, acid rain and invasive species. Professor Andrew Burton of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and two graduate students, Micki Jarvi and Carley Kratz, were lead instructors for the institute. 

* Click here for our May 28, 2012, story on the Dollar Bay students' robotics demonstration at Portage Library.

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