On July 18 the Lake Michigan Shipboard Science Workshop wrapped up a week of non-stop research and exploration aboard the R/V Lake Guardian. The educators and researchers also made time for stops at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and Sleeping Bear Dunes in Frankfort, Mich.
At the end of the workshop, each group of teacher-scientists gave presentations of their research. The great clarity and confidence with which each team was able to describe their project was a true testament to how much they learned throughout the week.
The educators communicated their research questions, methods, and results so articulately that I finally understood what had been going on all week right under my nose.
One scientific process, finding soluble reactive phosphorus, was described by Indiana teacher John Gensic in two minutes to a room full of nodding heads, visibly following along—and understanding—the intricate procedure.
When we asked the educators to summarize their week in three words for this video, it was evident as they struggled to distill the experience down to such a limited depiction, just how much they had learned and grown.
A lot of the comments were centered on how cohesively the group worked as a team. Also prevalent was the realization that true science is “messy” with the need to adapt, given that real-life science doesn’t always work out exactly how it was initially drawn up.
I found it incredibly rewarding to hear the teachers say that working side-by-side with Great Lakes researchers actually bolstered their confidence as scientists and science educators—though they admitted they were intimidated at first.
There was a lot of two-way dialogue during the week, with educators suggesting practical adjustments to the scientific procedures they had just been introduced two days previously.
I look forward to the amazing classroom adaptations and stewardship projects that are already being planned by the workshop participants in collaboration with their new scientist cohorts.
Educators Liz McCheyne, Mike Mathis, and Suzi Hoffman had these parting words in their final blog post.
“With this in mind, we will return to our classrooms all over the Great Lakes region to share our new knowledge and expanded hearts as we teach students, colleagues, family, and friends to be scientifically literate citizens of our planet and good stewards of the Great Lakes.”
Allison Neubauer is part of the education team at IISG. She helped coordinate the overall logistics and planned the shore excursions.