Students Ask Scientists: Video Chats

Your students could be at the other end of this video call! Researcher holds up tablet onboard ship while filming video call with students.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant hosts Students Ask Scientists (SAS) video calls to connect classrooms across the Great Lakes region with scientists from a range of agencies and academic institutions. During these virtual encounters, students learn about current research projects and scientific processes used to monitor and protect the Great Lakes. And students, of course, get to ask scientists all their burning questions about the Great Lakes and what a career in science looks like.

The SAS program allows teachers to provide students (grades 5−12) an opportunity to talk with real scientists to improve their understanding of the Great Lakes and gain insight into what a career in science entails. Whether it’s a question and answer session from a scientist in their office or a live tour of the research vessel Lake Guardian from scientists onboard the ship, students can see firsthand how topics they’re learning in the classroom are actually applied out in the field.

General Format

Lab/Office Calls (year-round)

Scientists call into classrooms to discuss Great Lakes issues and current research efforts. The format of these calls can be either of the following:

  • A student-driven Q & A session.
  • A brief presentation from scientists on relevant Great Lakes topics chosen by the teacher, with time for questions and discussion after the presentation.

SAS lab/office calls are arranged based on the availability of scientists who match with teacher-chosen topics and grade level. Due to the limited number of slots available, calls are arranged on a first-come-first-served basis. These interactions can be arranged using most video conferencing platforms (Zoom, Google Meets, etc.), and typically last 30−60 minutes. If you are interested in arranging a Students Ask Scientists lab/office call for your class, fill out the educator signup form to identify a scientist that best meets your classroom’s needs.

Shipboard Calls (April, May, and September)

Scientists on the EPA’s R/V Lake Guardian give students a virtual tour of the ship while it’s underway on a research cruise—talking about the current mission, showing off sampling equipment and safety gear, visiting onboard labs and living spaces, and stopping to chat with other scientists and ship crew about living and working on a research vessel.

SAS ship tour video calls occur as the vessel sampling schedule allows and are typically reserved for CGLL Shipboard Science Workshop alumni, but other educators will be accommodated if possible. These calls are scheduled and hosted by IISG staff using Zoom, and last approximately 45−60 minutes. If you are interested in arranging a SAS shipboard call for your class, fill out the educator signup form.


Logistics for SAS participating educators

About the Lake Guardian

Logistics for SAS participating scientists

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