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

Lake Guardian – Day Seven

Sorry for the lateness of this post. Our research cruise ended on Saturday morning, then I spent all afternoon and evening with two other teachers at Niagara Falls State Park. I got on a train shortly after midnight, rode to Chicago, waited for six hours in Union Station with no wi-fi, then rode another train back to Champaign. Immediately upon getting home, I cleaned up and went with my wife to her parents’ house for dinner. Yesterday (Monday) was my first full day back home and I spent all day packing until we ran out of boxes and then cleaning. We had some friends over in the evening, and then I went to bed.

So this morning is the first chance I’ve had to actually blog about the last day of the Lake Guardian Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop.

Saturday morning was spent wrapping things up. We had returned to the Coast Guard Station in Youngstown, New York, and after breakfast had time to clean up our cabins and pack our belongings. Then we got together for one last time. All of us had time to share our final projects. As mentioned earlier, I worked with the two other teachers from Illinois, one a high school science teacher and the other an education specialist at the Shedd Aquarium, to design a debate format for students to discuss Great Lakes issues. The adaptation for fourth graders that I shared was an opinion writing assignment, which ties in directly with the Common Core State Standards that we have implemented in our district and our state.

Other teachers shared data about the Great Lakes, such as the dissolved oxygen levels in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, others shared ways to create specimen collecting tools using recycled household items, and others shared ways that they will integrate Great Lakes literacy into their teaching in the coming years.

After everyone shared, we were given parting gifts from the two Sea Grant folks who made this whole thing possible. I was given a certificate of completion and a sturgeon pin which I now proudly wear on my backpack. And then we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

This entire week has been such a remarkable experience! I am so glad that I applied and was accepted. While the workshop is held every year, rotating through the Great Lakes, I found a lot of worth participating in a workshop with teachers I’d never have met otherwise. I spent a week working side-by-side science teachers from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota! I went to a part of my country I’d never been to before. And I also got to working with top researchers in fields of environmental science, limnology, and biology. The crew members about the ship were fantastic! One has even offered to make a trip to Urbana to talk to my students about his role on the EPA research vessel! So many fantastic opportunities for me and my students have been opened up through this once-in-a-lifetime experience. (Sadly, I will not be eligible for any other research cruises because the EPA stipulated in their grant that they have to take a different set of teachers each year. But I will find my way to Lake Huron and Lake Superior eventually, so I can say that I have been to all five of the Great Lakes!)

And on the off-chance parents of potential students are reading these posts: Be prepared to learn, through your children, more about the Great Lakes than you ever knew possible! By the end of the year, my fourth graders will be experts on Great Lakes ecology! It is going to be an exciting year!

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