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.
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