lake

Lake Guardian Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop: Things I’ve Learned This Summer

By Maggie Sauerhage

Things I’ve learned this summer: Lake Superior is ENORMOUS, spanning 31,700 square miles; the Lake hosts a variety of unique habitats and biodiversity; and finally, cell phone reception on the Lake can be lousy.

As an EPA intern in the nation’s capital, I’ve been remotely assisting in communicating a science education workshop on Lake Superior.  I’ve  been lucky enough to have scientists, education experts and Lake Guardian crew members fill my brain with knowledge about lake science, science education and what life is like on a 180-foot-long research vessel.

In July 2011, scientists and educators from around the Great Lakes will be aboard EPA’s Lake Guardian research vessel to research environmental conditions in Lake Superior, and share their stories.

EPA’s Joel Hoffman, head scientist for the workshop, explained the variety of unique habitats surrounding the Great Lakes. From urban areas to places that are extremely remote, coastal zones are reflective of water quality in the Lake. Joel and other scientists are working with educators to measure water quality around the Lake.

EPA is measuring water quality and health indicators in the Great Lakes as part of new scientific standards established to assess ecosystem health of all five lakes. This data will create a record that scientists can use to determine how the lakes are doing and where they might need help. Listen to my podcast with Joel to learn more.

Minnesota Sea Grant’s Cindy Hagley is helping educators in the Workshop transform the science they are learning into teaching materials. Teachers can share videos, photos, and data from the Workshop with their students. Read about the educators’ daily experiences here.

Lake Guardian crew member Amy Jo Strange spends a large part of the year floating on the Great Lakes on the vessel. While one of her most important jobs during the workshop is to keep the educators safely on deck, she enjoys sharing her passion for the Great Lakes.

I’ve really enjoyed learning about Lake Superior and the Great Lakes through the Workshop, and speaking with the many people involved has sparked my interest in Lake Superior science! If you have questions for the scientists and others onboard, please submit them here and check back to see the answer!

I’m excited to follow the scientists, educators and all those onboard during this week and next, and I hope you’ll come along!

About the author: Maggie Sauerhage is a summer intern in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Maggie is a senior at Indiana University majoring in Spanish.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Science Wednesday: Lake Guardian Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop, Day #1

By Dr. Joel Hoffman

Science Workshop, Day#1.

In July 2011, scientists and educators from around the Great Lakes will be aboard EPA’s Lake Guardian research vessel to research environmental conditions in Lake Superior, and share their stories.

I am amazed and excited that the workshop is commencing. How do you prepare to take 15 educators for a week on a large, oceanographic vessel?

Our preparations started this past winter. Initial discussion about the theme for the research cruise (human interactions with the coast) led to many more about the appropriate science activities which then led to me calling around the Great Lakes for scientists to participate. We wanted top-notch scientists, for sure. We also wanted the research to mean something—the projects had to be interesting, cutting-edge science to which the teachers could add their effort.

Three months out, we called for applications and were flooded with interest. This is fantastic, of course, but tough, too. We could only take 15. This motivated us to find new ways to expand the reach of the program and so we doubled-down on our outreach efforts. The result was that we will have two first-ever collaborations. One—we will hold a class by satellite from the middle of Lake Superior in collaboration with the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry as part of their “Great Lakes Rocks” program. Two—the new Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve will host 6 teachers in a related COSEE program and join us on the research vessel for the last day of the workshop.

Today, we introduce the teachers to the lake, the vessel, the cruise theme, and their new (temporary) job as a Great Lakes scientist. We will visit the Great Lakes Aquarium this afternoon to see up-close what life in the lake is all about. Then, we will explain the teachers’ mission to them: to be scientists, to participate in ongoing Great Lakes research, to be up in the middle of the night as the research commands (the boat runs 24/7), and to approach their days with a sense of inquiry and curiosity.
What better way to experience Great Lakes science than to stand on the deck in the middle of the night, under the stars, staring over the horizon, as a sampling net is towed quietly behind the vessel, so you can simply ask “What’s out there?.”
Here we go.

About the author: Dr. Joel Hoffman is a research biologist in EPA’s Mid-Continent Ecology division, and. the head scientist for the 2011 Lake Guardian Shipboard and Shoreline workshop on Lake Superior.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.