Provided by Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education

Great Lakes Maritime Transportation Education


Great Lakes Ship Cargoes & Products


For Grade 1-5


Lesson Overview

This activity will enable students to understand how much Great Lakes shipping impacts their lives everyday.  They will make the connection between raw materials that make up the cargo on the Lakers, to the finished products they produce.  The 6 raw materials used will be grain, salt, coal, iron ore, limestone, and sand/gravel.



To identify five products made from five different raw materials most commonly carried by ships on the Great Lakes. 



5 tables or open area to spread out ship cargoes & products

Stopwatch or clock

25 small Ziploc sandwich/snack bags

For each raw material, five products will be used.

 (1) Grain - 5 bags

Finished Product: Bread, Cereal, Flour, Pasta, Rice

 (2) Salt - 5 bags

Finished Products: Water bottle, Salt shaker, bar of soap (used in soap production), used on highways for safety in winter (picture), used in product of chemicals (picture)

 (3) Coal - 5 bags

Finished Products: Light bulbs, Blender, Waffle Maker, Electric beater, Cuisnart Choppers

 (4) Iron Ore - 5 bags

Finished Products: Models of car, plane, tractor, truck and picture of bridge

 (5) Limestone - 5 bags

Finished Products: Rubber band, Adhesives (band aid), Baking Powder, Sugar, Fruit (used in treatment)

 (6) Sand and Gravel - 5 bags

Finished Products: 2 glass pints (principal component in glass making), picture of concrete, picture of golf course (used in landscaping), picture of road building.



Set up five stations on tables or on the floor. Each station has one bag of each raw material and one product made from that raw material. See Raw Material & Product Table below.



Table 1:

Grain: Bread

Salt: Water Bottle

Coal: Light Bulbs

Iron Ore: Model car

Limestone: Rubberband

Sand and Gravel: Road picture


Table 2:

Grain: Cereal

Salt: Winter highway picture

Coal: Blender

Iron Ore: Model plane

Limestone: Band-aid

Sand and Gravel: Golf Course-landscaping picture


Table 3:

Grain: Flour

Salt: Salt Shaker

Coal: Waffle Maker

Iron Ore: Model tractor

Limestone: Baking powder

Sand and Gravel: Pint glass




Table 4:

Grain: Pasta

Salt: Chemical picture (used in product of chemicals)

Coal: Electric beater

Iron Ore: Model truck

Limestone: Sugar

Sand and Gravel: Concrete picture


Table 5:

Grain: Rice

Salt: Soap Bar (used in production of soap)

Coal: Cuisinart choppers

Iron Ore: Bridge picture

Limestone: Fruit (used in treatment of fruit)

Sand and Gravel: Pint glass




  1. Set up five tables with the 6 raw materials and 6 matching products.  Have the raw materials lined up on one side, with the products on the other.
  2. Have students form into five teams and go to one of the tables to begin.
  3. Explain to teams what the raw materials are and they are shipped as cargo on the Great Lakes.  Tell them that we use the products made from these raw materials everyday.  Explain they will be matching the raw material to the product it is used to make.  They will place the bag of the raw material next to the product. For example: Iron Ore is used to make steel; Coal is used for electricity.
  4. Tell the teams that they have 2 minutes to match the raw material next to the product.
  5. At the end of the round, the leader will check the teams to see which ones are right.  The leader will tell the teams which ones they have right, for instance the coal and sand is right but the others are not.
  6. Give the teams another minute to match the remaining raw material to product.  At the end of the minute the leader will check the teams again, if no team has them all correct, have them try one more time for a minute.  At the end of this minute check the teams.  If a team has them all correct they will be declared the winner of that round.  If no team has them all matched correctly, they will need to move on to another table.  If at any point during the rounds a team gets all of them matched correctly, have the teams switch tables then.
  7. Continue activity so that all teams go to the 5 tables, or until time allows.
  8. It is important to tell them to not look at the other tables since they will be switching tables.
  9. At the end of the game, group the students back together to review the activity.


Learning Assessment

We have clearly seen today how important the raw material cargoes carried by Great Lakes ships is to our everyday life and to our economy.  These materials build roads that we drive on everyday to the electricity used in our homes.  Ask them if they find it difficult to match the raw material with the product.  Go around to each table and match the raw material with the correct product to show the students the correct matches.  

Student Handout                                               Team Names ____________________________________


Observe the items at each table, and draw lines to match each product with the correct raw material.


Table 1


Grain:                                     Rubberband

Salt:                                        Water Bottle

Coal:                                       Bread

Iron Ore:                                 Model car

Limestone:                              Light Bulbs

Sand and Gravel:                    Road picture





Table 4


Grain:                       Concrete

Salt:                          Truck

Coal:                         Electric beater

Iron Ore:                   Used to produce chemicals

Limestone:                Pasta

Sand and Gravel:      Sugar



Table 2


Grain:                Airplane

Salt:                   Band-aid

Coal:                  Cereal

Iron Ore:            Blender

Limestone:        Golf Course

Sand/Gravel:     Melt ice/snow on winter highways


Table 5


Grain:                  Bridge

Salt:                     Soap

Coal:                    Kitchen appliances (Cuisinart)

Iron Ore:             Glass

Limestone:          Fruit

Sand/Gravel        Rice


Table 3


Grain:                    Waffle-maker

Salt:                       Baking powder

Coal:                      Tractor

Iron Ore:                Glass jar

Limestone:             Flour

Sand/Gravel:          Salt Shaker




This raw material helps make winter driving safe.






















This raw material is used in production of chemicals.































This raw material helps build roads.












































This raw material is used for landscaping

and golf courses.












This raw material helps form concrete that is used to build many things including buildings, houses, highways driveways and sidewalks.