Drs. Russell Cuhel and Carmen Aguilar, scientists at the Great Lakes WATER Institute in Milwaukee, have been awarded a three-year NSF COSEE Collaborative grant to work with COSEE Great Lakes Their educator enhancement program is designed to provide exciting, immersion science learning and resource exposure for teachers of middle and high school students and informal science educators.
Specific objectives are: (1) expand educator awareness of exotic species occurrence and activities in local waters as a means for introducing larger topics of aquatic ecosystem processes; (2) engage educators in one-week, intense hands-on workshops using modern-day tools both aboard a research vessel and in the laboratory to test specific hypotheses; and (3) assist COSEE Great Lakes in providing educators with resources to access current environmental research activities and results in their own region and nationally.
The project focuses on invasive animal species and ecosystem dynamics in the Great Lakes. There will be workshops over three years that introduce local Lake Michigan ecosystem components, mapping and navigation, and sampling. Studies aboard the RV Neeskay will allow participants to sample a nearby reef ecosystem using traditional and remotely operated vehicle technologies. Lab analysis, data interpretation, and hypothesis-building will be followed by sampling a reef composed of a shipwreck, as a hypothetical contrast to the natural reef. The pilot website Let's Go On A Cruise!
will be upgraded with new material and linkage to COSEE Great Lakes.
In October the Great Lakes team connected by videoconference with Russell and Carmen aboard the research vessel, and were able to see firsthand how educators can develop and test hypotheses about zebra and quagga mussel density on the floor of Lake Michigan. Even the virtual connection was exciting!
COSEE Great Lakes is pleased to welcome these valued colleagues into partnership. Dr. Aguilar has been on our Advisory Committee since 2005, and we look forward to working with the Education Aquanauts team for even greater Great Lakes education.
Contributed by Rosanne Fortner. Photographs by Kay Swartzlander.