New education coordinator very familiar with IISG mission

May 6th, 2014 by

Terri Hallesy is IISG’s new education coordinator. She has been a part of the program’s education team since 2004 and has played a key role in developing curriculum, conducting educator workshops, and designing IISG-led courses. Her list of accomplishments includes the Nab the Aquatic Invader! website and the B-WET teacher workshop. Terri has received several awards during her tenure with IISG, including an Extension Award of Excellence in 2008 for her efforts on a University of Illinois service-learning course. As the education coordinator, Terri will develop new programs and resources to build our program and improve Great Lakes education in the region. She will also oversee several state and regional collaborative education efforts, including the Center for Great Lakes Literacy project.

SeaPerch contest winners get their robots up and running

October 14th, 2013 by

Last month, we announced that six teachers from the Champaign-Urbana area had won tool kits for constructing simple, remotely operated underwater robots with their students. With the help of online lesson plans, the winning teachers will use the SeaPerch robots to teach their students about topics including buoyancy, propulsion, circuitry, and biological sampling.

Along with the kits, teachers got an opportunity to learn construction techniques  and practice using the equipment during one of two SeaPerch Build Sessions held in October. During the sessions, Blake Landry, coordinator of the University of Illinois SeaPerch Program, took teachers step-by-step through the build process.  

The winning teachers have big plans for their robots. Some will use them to introduce their younger students to basic engineering concepts for the first time. In other classrooms, the robots will provide an opportunity for students to test their knowledge of things like simple circuits. Some teachers are even considering partnering up to start an after-school club that will compete in the national SeaPerch Challenge. With these six teachers now using SeaPerch, there is also a possibility that they may launch a regional SeaPerch Challenge.

The SeaPerch giveaway contest was funded by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant to help teachers in the Great Lakes region integrate science education with engineering and math.

Visit the SeaPerch homepage to learn more about the tool kits and the SeaPerch program.


Top: Blake shows Carol Smith and Geoff Frymuth how to use the tools provided in the SeaPerch teacher’s kit. Carol is a 5th grade teacher at Leal Elementary School in Urbana, and Geoff teaches 7th grade science at Champaign’s Jefferson Middle School.

Middle: Carol practices stripping electrical wires used to connect the three motorized propellers that steer the underwater robots. Stripping wires and building motors are just a few of the many engineering tasks her students will have to do when they build their own robots in the spring. 

Bottom: Carol, Geoff, and Jen White, an 8th grade science teacher at Jefferson Middle School, take notes as Blake shows how to install and waterproof the motors and secure the frame of a completed SeaPerch robot.


Winning teachers chosen in the IISG SeaPerch giveaway

September 5th, 2013 by

The SeaPerch Program, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, brings robotics and underwater science together to enhance classroom activities and curricula for a variety of grade levels. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant recently sponsored a contestto give away several of the kits to teachers of grades 6-12, and the six winners will be receiving their new kits in the coming weeks. Blake Landry, project partner and coordinator of the University of Illinois’ SeaPerch Program, is working with IISG to provide continued support and training to the teachers and their students.

Teachers were asked to complete a survey and provide details about how they wanted to integrate the SeaPerch technology into their science lessons, and the responses were outstanding. In addition to bolstering their own classroom activities, several teachers hoped to use the starter kit and accompanying science lessons to share with teachers throughout the area. One winner wrote, “The SeaPerch program and applications would be an excellent topic to present at the Illinois Computing Educators Conference targeting science teachers and integration of science and engineering.”

In addition to offering a new tool to teachers, the contest helps to further activity and curriculum development and provides educators an opportunity to network and share their ideas with others. All of which complements IISG’s goal of fostering Great Lakes science literacy and engagement throughout the region.

In the news: Teachers identify the good and the still needed in Great Lakes literacy education

May 28th, 2013 by
Dozens of Michigan teachers were some of the attendees at the 2013 Great Lakes Conference at Michigan State University back in March, and one of the most important topics of discussion was the current and future need for improving Great Lakes literacy.

From the MSU office of extension

“At the luncheon, educators learned about upcoming professional development opportunities relating to the Great Lakes, and shared their best practices in Great Lakes education, as well as their priority needs relating to advancing Great Lakes literacy in the classroom. 

So with the goal of advancing Great Lakes literacy in mind, what were some of their best practices and needs that emerged from the teacher discussion? The best practices clustered around five themes: 1) curriculum, 2) place-based education, 3) data in the classroom, 4) hands-on learning, and 5) cross-curriculum lessons…”

Follow the link above to read the complete article, including links to further information for educators.

IISG’s Robin Goettel’s years of service lead to U of I award

February 1st, 2013 by
The University of Illinois’ College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences accepts nominations each year for an award that recognizes outstanding achievement by faculty and academic professionals in the college. 

The Paul A. Funk Recognition Award provides a personal award to the winner as well as funds for their department to use in support of their work benefiting natural resources and human environmental systems. 


This year, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Robin Goettel won the award for her extensive educational outreach work, including the creation of numerous curricula for science teachers and others. In particular, the Fresh and Salt curriculum, the Greatest of the Great Lakes collection of model lessons, and The Medicine Chest have helped to inform, engage, and education over 100,000 students about environmental science related to the Great Lakes. 

Robin isn’t afraid to get totally immersed in her environmental education work either, as this excerpt from her nomination proves: 

“No description of Robin would be complete without a mention of Zelda the zebra mussel, a ‘spokesmussel,’ as Robin describes her. Zelda is a costume that Robin is not afraid to pull out at public events. While maybe not quite ready for Disneyworld, Zelda draws a crowd. People start with a laugh, are compelled to ask questions, and end up with a better understanding of invasive species for the unconventional approach.”


Those examples don’t begin to touch on the work that Robin has engaged in throughout her many years with the program–from direct engagement with students of all grade levels, to educational displays at some of the Midwest’s biggest events, to forging partnerships with other environmental organizations to better educate, inform, and engage people in protecting and preserving natural resources.

Robin’s many years of work on environmental issues, and her dedication to fostering ever higher levels of science education for students of all ages, make her a terrific and very deserving choice for this award.
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