The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Lake Guardian – Day Six

Six days down, one more to go! By this time Sunday, I should be home! Of course, just because we are approaching the end of our time together, doesn’t mean we haven’t been working as hard today as we have every other day this week!

After a night of rolling seas, we got started early in the morning with the last of our sampling stations. Team B went first while the A Team ate breakfast. It didn’t take long to get to our next session, but in between, we had a lecture on the various native species found in Lake Ontario. Then we got to work at our station!



The next station was about an hour away or so, which gave us plenty of time to work on our final projects that we have to present tomorrow! That’s right: this isn’t a pleasure cruise! We have to work and learn every day and we have to be able to demonstrate our learning! We are able to work in teams for our projects. I have joined the two other teachers from Illinois (team name: Midwest Is Best!) to come up with a debate project for our students to do at the end of a Great Lakes unit. For high school students, this will involve researching, coming up with points and counter-points, actually having a debate (with rebuttals), and having other students judge the merits of the arguments based on facts. Of course, that is a little bit beyond what would be expected for fourth graders. I was tasked with coming up with the adaptation. My plan is to have the students learn about the Great Lakes throughout the year and then, as their culminating project, write a persuasive essay. I want their audience to be someone (or some organisation) that has power to influence policy. I am thinking of having them write to people at the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, our state representatives, and maybe even the governor!

In between stations, we also had time to work on our concept maps, which is the second part of our final project to demonstrate learning. We all made concept maps on Sunday to show what we already knew about the Great Lakes, especially Lake Ontario. Then we have added to them each day. It is a great way to record ideas and be able to tell in a very concrete, very visual way, whether or not learning has taken place.

My team got to do something new this afternoon! After our regular tests (collecting phytoplankton and zooplankton, filling the carboy and the smaller jugs, checking the turbidity using the Secchi disks, and using the Rosette to collect water for chemical analysis), we got to watch the marine technicians onboard deploy the spider core sampler. This is a large black device that drops to the bottom of the lake, collects four core samples from the ground, and then comes back up. One of our team members got to help the technicians with this work.





After dinner, several of the teachers and crew members went swimming in the middle of the lake. We moved out of the shipping channel, the captain set out buoys, and then those who wanted to go to jump in and swim around for about half an hour. The water was slightly over 21 degrees Celsius (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit). I did not join them, so I took pictures, instead.


Then it was back to work with two more sampling stations before we are done. Between stations, we had another lecture, this one about the fish of the Great Lakes. It was another busy, productive, and fantastic day! I fully expect tomorrow to be just as wonderful! At the very end of the day, we finally got to see a real sunset on the lake! It was amazing!



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