Solar-Powered IoT Buoy Blends STEM Education and Scientific Research

September 25th, 2018 by

An article titled “Solar-Powered IoT Buoy Blends STEM Education and Scientific Research” has been published by Tom Lombardo on, covering Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Michigan City buoy on Lake Michigan. Using information supplied by our partners in Purdue University’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering and IISG Education Coordinator Terri Hallesy, Lombardo breaks down some of the technical aspects of the buoy and explains how we use buoy data in some of our STEM-based educational resources.


Two Yellow Buoys is now an award-winning Twitter feed

July 20th, 2017 by

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s two Lake Michigan real-time monitoring buoys know that they’re popular. And if you follow the Twitter account, @TwoYellowBuoys, they’ll tell you so.

Part of this popularity may be because the buoys are festive. In addition to decking themselves out for holidays.


4th of July



Alternatives to Easter egg hunts.


Or maybe it’s because the buoys are clearly in love with science so they share interesting data patterns.



Here they introduce themselves to Bill Nye, the Science Guy.


The buoys’ hard work informing people about conditions in southern Lake Michigan was recognized with an APEX Award of Excellence for Social Media – Sites. This is the second IISG project to win a 2017 APEX Award. The buoys are proud to work alongside their Sea Grant colleagues, serving the people who live and recreate in southern Lake Michigan.

*The buoys would like to thank IISG Assistant Research Coordinator Carolyn Foley for managing their Twitter account. They also blame Carolyn for any mistakes made, because they’re buoys. It’s difficult to Tweet when you don’t have arms.

If you love the buoys, let them know!

Buoy lovers donate to keep life-saving weather data afloat

July 5th, 2017 by

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) is proud to support two real-time monitoring buoys in southern Lake Michigan, one located just north of Michigan City, Indiana and the other near Wilmette Harbor, Illinois. Recently, users have started pitching in with donations to help keep the buoys afloat.

The buoy program started when a Purdue researcher pointed out that there were no real-time data being collected in Lake Michigan’s Indiana waters. A few years later, concerned citizens and sailors pointed to a similar need for the Illinois shoreline. Now, the two IISG buoys are filling information gaps for anglers, sailors, swimmers, and weather professionals who are interested in this part of the lake.

Over the years, buoy users have made phone calls, emails, and interactions through Twitter and Facebook to share that the buoys are valued and needed. We at Sea Grant have enjoyed hearing how our fans use buoy information. All told, lake enthusiasts are checking our real-time buoy data nearly 30,000 times per year!

Putting a buoy in the water, year after year, requires many things to happen. Weather conditions, equipment, people, and technical services have to come together perfectly to keep the buoys operational. This program would be impossible without sufficient funding.

Sea Grant’s buoy managers, Carolyn Foley and Jay Beugly, try to support the buoys with grants, but those funds can be hard to come by. When the unexpected happens, like a power-generating solar panel comes loose, or it takes three trips to remove a hook found tangled in wires at a depth of 30 feet, we burn through our funds pretty quickly.

IISG is constantly on the lookout for partnerships to help keep the buoys afloat, but you can also make a donation. The funds raised will go directly toward the buoy program, supporting data charges, travel costs, repairs, and upgrades. Already, folks are stepping up and donating to keep the buoys operational.

We love providing the buoy data as a service to everyone and helping families stay safe during these summer days. Please join your fellow buoy fans and consider donating today!​

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue University Extension.

The World Series of Buoy Data: An island of activity amidst a lake of statistics

October 28th, 2016 by

The Chicago Cubs versus the Cleveland Indians isn’t the only Great Lakes World Series happening this October!

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Wilmette buoy (45174) has been pitted against the City of Cleveland’s Cleveland Crib buoy (45176) in the World Series of Buoy Data. The match-up is playing out on Twitter. It’s a best of seven series and will last up to seven days. Questions are posted in the morning and answers are posted in the afternoon. After three days of competition, Wilmette is in the lead 2-1, winning both the highest wave and strongest wind gust recorded between July 1 and October 24 of this year. Cleveland saw the warmest water temperature.

See the rest of the series play out on Twitter by following @TwoYellowBuoys, and let us know who you’re rooting for in this best of seven series!

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue Extension.

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