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.
Towards the beginning of the school year, my class spent about a month on our “Aquatic Habitats and Biodiversity” unit. After exploring the general nature of aquatic systems (both marine and freshwater), we took a closer look at our local water systems, specifically Lake Michigan. During this time, we discussed the history of the Great Lakes, identified the various ways in which humans have used and altered the makeup of the Great Lakes, spent two days conducting water-quality testing and macro-invertebrate sampling (using both biotic and abiotic indicators to compare water quality in various tributaries to that of the mouths in which they fed into Lake Michigan), and debated plausible methods to prevent invasive species such as the Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes.Throughout this entire unit, I found myself regularly referencing experiences I had during the Lake Guardian summer workshop. The experiences not only allowed me to better explain the complexity of some of these issues, but it also opened my students’ eyes to hands-on opportunities available in the world of science. It taught me a great deal about the Great Lakes, but, more importantly, it improved my ability to teach students about the Lakes’ significance. I hope this program continues to be funded for years to come as it is a wonderful way of spreading both knowledge and passion regarding the importance of preserving the gift that is the Great Lakes.
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.
Mr. Valencic got the idea to bring Great Lakes issues to his class at Wiley Elementary School in Urbana, IL after spending a week aboard the U.S. EPA R/V Lake Guardian this summer for the annual Shipboard and Shoreline Workshop. During the week, he and 14 other formal and non-formal educators worked alongside scientists as they collected data on Lake Ontario. This year, participants collected samples from different locations to monitor water quality, studied species at the bottom of the food web, and learned more about organisms living on the lakebed. Sea Grant officials on board paired hand-on research with curriculum activities to help teachers better incorporate Great Lakes science into their classrooms.
“The B-WET workshop presented teachers with so much information it would be impossible to not get inspired!” said Ms. Spentzos-Inghram. “They had a lineup of AMAZING presenters from a variety of organizations to promote their efforts, which made it a one-stop shop for information about bringing Great Lakes science into the classroom.”
New curriculum offers hands-on Great Lakes science lessons for upper elementary and high school studentsSeptember 19th, 2013 by Irene Miles
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Caitie McCoy and others have just completed work on a new curriculum for elementary and high school science students.
Helping Hands: Restoration for Healthy Habitats offers lessons and hands-on activities to connect students in the Great Lakes with recent or ongoing cleanup and restoration projects happening in their communities. The range of activities offers new ways to engage students with real-life examples that show environmental science in action.
Teachers interested in having Sea Grant lead the curriculum in their school should contact Caitie McCoy. Caitie can work with the teacher to customize curriculum to meet school-specific needs. The curriculum expands Great Lakes literacy among students, many of whom may become future researchers and educators.
Community leaders in Areas of Concern that would like to help Sea Grant lead or set up an educational program are also encouraged to contact Caitie. The complete curriculum is free to download at the link above.
During the afternoon session, a live demonstration of the SeaPerch robot was conducted and teachers had an opportunity to operate the SeaPerch robots in the large-scale laboratory facilities.
The course and projects that resulted informed current University of Illinois students about important environmental issues, while giving them experience collaborating with each other, working with local organizations and businesses, and performing outreach to share the information they learned with residents of Champaign-Urbana.
Educators from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin attended IISG’s workshop Nov. 9-10 to increase the presence of Great Lakes science in their classrooms and to improve student awareness of issues related to the Lakes.
All of the teachers who attended this year’s workshop were excited to learn about programs like the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach, as well as the many exciting student stewardship activities offered by the Shedd Aquarium, the Dunes Learning Center, and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore botanists. They also enjoyed the hands-on activities, including using the Enviroscape model to learn about point source/non-point source pollution, and learning how to use GLNPO’s Hydrolab water quality monitoring instrument.
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