Michigan Technological University


The Ecology of the Great Lakes Aboard the R/V Lake Guardian


Course Syllabus ~ July 7-13, 2002  


Course Coordinator:

Joan Schumaker Chadde

Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education

Michigan Technological University 



Sarah Green, Associate Professor 

Dept. of Chemistry - KITES Project Coordinator and Director Remote Sensing Institute,

Michigan Technological University 


Matt Julius

Dept. of Biological Sciences

St. Cloud State University



Course Description

This course is designed to teach educators about the physical, chemical, and biological components of the Great Lakes ecosystem. In an exciting week aboard the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s R/V Lake Guardian, participants will have the opportunity to live and work in the Guardian’s scientific labs beside researchers doing hands-on data collection and analysis. The course will explore the physical, biological, chemical, meteorological and geological characteristics of Lake Superior, by studying and collecting scientific data alongside researchers and scientists. Mathematics, physical sciences, language arts, and social sciences concepts will be woven into the experience. Fundamental theory and application of selected concepts basic to understanding the Great Lakes Ecosystem will be addressed for the purpose of inspiring effective teaching ideas that participants can use to incorporate Great Lakes issues in their classrooms.  This intensive interactive week-long Educators’ Science and Math Institute Series (ESMIS) course is designed to provide elementary, middle, and high school educators with standards-based professional development and time to plan, discuss, and reflect on their teaching.


Rationale and Goals

This course is designed specifically for K-12 teachers to help them apply Great Lakes science into their curriculum through both field and laboratory sessions aboard the vessel. In an effort to help teachers align their teaching units with the Michigan Curriculum Framework, this institute focuses on standards and benchmarks that address life and physical sciences.  The institute also integrates sessions on critical reading skills, writing across the curriculum, and other supporting information from the humanities and social sciences. Institute participants will work cooperatively in groups sharing their teaching experience and ideas with other educators.  They will have the opportunity to focus on science and math benchmarks, and adapt new content knowledge and skills to their specific educational level and situation. ESMIS provides teachers with the opportunity for real-world inquiry-based experiences and time to share best teaching ideas with their peers. Selection for an ESMIS course requires a commitment to actively engage in all learning activities to optimize the experience for all of the teachers attending. 


During a one-week intensive interdisciplinary experience, K-12 teachers will participate in a field and laboratory based experience in the Lake Superior Basin.  Following introductory sessions on Sunday, participants will live and work aboard the 180 foot-long R/V Lake Guardian of the U.S. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office, participating in inquiry-based activities each day.  The Lake Guardian will venture into Superior waters and circumnavigate the Isle Royale Archipelago while teachers aboard participate in observational and hands-on research projects. This experience will prepare teachers to help students understand how parts of an ecosystem are related and how they interact; explain how energy is distributed to living things in an ecosystem; investigate how communities of living things change over time; describe characteristics of ecosystems and the processes that created them; describe how materials cycle through an ecosystem and get reused in the environment; and analyze how humans and the environment interact with regard to resources, human adaptation, and environmental impact. Mathematics, social sciences, and language arts are woven into an exploration of these concepts.  We will focus on methods to help students to think critically, to ask questions that help them learn about the real world, to formulate hypotheses and gather data, and to use evidence in order to make decisions. The knowledge and experience gained throughout the week are the basis for a teaching unit that teachers create and implement in the fall.  (Science Content Strand I, II, III Standard 5, and V 1-4.   Social Studies Content Strand II, Standard 2, 4.)


The content of the institute will draw on three main resources:

·         Expertise and innovative approaches of presenters coupled with the firsthand experience by participants;

·         Teaching experience and insight of each participant who brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity to share with each other developing a sense of community and peer-support which is essential for the success of this institute;

·         Educational resources, reference materials, and samples of award-winning teaching units that meet the Michigan standards and prepare students for higher achievement in science and math while enjoying and learning essential information.


Course Credit

Students have the option to receive up to four semester hours of graduate credit for the summer component aboard ship and the fall practicum component, either through the MTU Department of Education (Educators’ Science and Mathematics Institute Series (ESMIS) ~  Ecology of the Great Lakes:  ED 5601 (3 Semester Credits) Summer 2002 and (tentatively) ED 5602 (1 Semester Credit) Fall 2002, or as an independent study through their own home institution.  Teachers may choose their own source of credit, depending upon their academic and professional needs.


Institute Requirements and Evaluation

Each teacher will design a teaching unit on a topic of her/his interest that models effective teaching strategies and meets the guidelines of the Michigan Curriculum Framework Standards. Assessment and evaluation of the Educators’ Science and Mathematics Institutes Series is provided by the Center for Educational Technology, Research, and Assessment (CETRA) at Michigan Technological University. 


Specific requirements include:

C         Attendance and class participation - All participants are expected to attend all sessions and to enter into substantive discussion during formal sessions, and in informal discussions with peers.  A field journal is required during the institute. (30%)

            C         Best teaching idea - All teacher participants are required to present a session during the institute on one of their best teaching ideas.  This must be a well-developed pre-planned presentation for their professional peers including substantive content, activity description, teaching aids, handouts, and authentic assessment strategies. (15%)

            C         Overview of proposed teaching unit - Participants are provided a reference list and are expected to begin formulating an idea for a teaching unit in preparation for the institute.  Teachers must prepare a one-page written summary of their idea and be ready to discuss it on the last day of this institute. (15 %)

C         Conceptual teaching unit – Following their one-week course aboard the Lake Guardian, teachers will design a teaching unit or program appropriate for their teaching level on a topic of interest related to their experience, and that meets the guidelines of the Michigan Curriculum Framework Standards or national content standards, to be implemented in their classroom during the Fall semester 2002. The teaching unit must be received by August 31, 2002 to receive credit for the entire course.   (40%)


OPTIONAL (for 1 credit):

C         Implementation and evaluation of teaching unit - For the Fall component of the institute

            (ED 5602), participants will be required to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching unit or program, and submit a written summary of their experience. The teaching unit should be described in a manuscript between 1,500 and 2,000 words following the National Science Teachers Association publication guidelines for Science and Children (elementary), Science Scope, or The Science Teacher (secondary), or following publication guidelines for enc focus, published by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (enc.org/focus/write). Manuscripts should be written clearly and concisely, stressing original, innovative classroom application, with indication of the standards addressed, and meticulous citations of resources used. As part of the teaching unit implementation, participants are required to evaluate their students’ learning by an assessment strategy that must be included in the final paper. The written summary must be received by Friday, November 29, 2002 to receive 1 hour of semester credit during Fall Semester, 2002.  These teaching units are incorporated into a source that will be available to colleagues.


Grading Criteria:


·         Organization - demonstrates logical flow of ideas and clarity of expression

·         Content - demonstrates basic understanding of concepts; relevant information

·         Scholarship - demonstrates analysis and evaluation of ideas; accurate information

·         Style - conforms to appropriate grammatical, structure, and referencing style



·         Organization - demonstrates logical thinking; coherent, clear, focused

·         Content - demonstrates comprehensive synthesis of ideas; original and creative

·         Scholarship - demonstrates knowledge, mastery, critical thinking of select topics

·         Style - engages the listener, stimulates questions and discussion, respects others


Grading scale is based on oral and written performance during the week of the institute, preparation of the teaching unit, and preparation of the manuscript (ED 5602 only).


Course References 

*Bennett, Thomas R. 1995. Shoreline Processes of the Great Lakes. Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality – Land & Water Management Division – Shoreline Management Unit (Land & Water Management Technical Report 95-1)


Durbin, William. 2000. My Name Is America: The Journal of Otto Peltonen A Finnish Immigrant, Hibbing, MN, 1905.  Scholastic.


*Graham, Loren. 1995. A Face in the Rock. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angelos, CA.


*Great Lakes Aquarium. 1998. Lake Effects: The Lake Superior Curriculum Guide for Grades K-8. Lake Superior Center, Duluth, MN.


Huber, N. King.  1975.  The Geologic Story of Isle Royale National Park.  Geological Survey Bulletin 1309. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.


*LaBerge, Gene L. 1994. Geology of the Lake Superior Region. Geoscience Press, Inc. Tuscon, AZ.


*National Science Teacher Association’s The Science Teacher, Science Scope, and Science and Children Writing Guidelines (www.nsta.org )


*Shaw, Byron, Christine Mechenich and Lowell Klessig. 2002. Understanding Lake Data. University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.


*U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Government of Canada. 1995. The Great Lakes: An Environmental Atlas and Resource Book


Wetzel, Robert G., 1994. Limnology: Lake and River Ecosystems. 2001. Academic Press.



*These books will be provided to participants during the institute.


Additional readings will be suggested during the institute.



Web Sites for Great Lakes Information


Great Lakes Information Network                      http://www.great-lakes.net/  


Great Lakes Environmental Atlas and Resource Book     www.cciw.ca/glimr/data/great-lakes-atlas/intro.html


EPA Great Lakes National Program Office        www.epa.gov/glnpo


Great Lakes Science Center                              www.glsc.nbs.gov 


Michigan Sea Grant                                             


T.E.A.C.H. Great Lakes                                              


Lake Superior Fish                                             


Bell LIVE UMD Education                    http://www1.umn.edu/bellmuse/mnideals/greatlakes/whatbelllive.html


Center for Great Lakes Environmental Education            http://www.greatlakesed.org/directory.html


Michigan DEQ Environmental Education           


Michigan Department of Education.  2000.          http://cdp.mde.state.mi.us/science/#Benchmarks

Michigan Curriculum Framework: Interactive Links to Content Strands, Standards, and Benchmarks. 


Understanding Lake Data (a PDF guide)                        http://www1.uwex.edu/ces/pubs/pdf/G3582.PDF


Water on the Web (University of Minnesota)      http://wow.nrri.umn.edu/wow/overview.html

Contains pdf version of Primer on Limnology and access to real-time data on Minnesota lakes using robotics





Great Lakes Aquarium at the Lake Superior Center in Duluth, MN



Keweenaw Interdisciplinary Transport Experiment in Superior (KITES)

Project Coordinator:  Sarah Green, Assistant Professor, Chemistry Department,

Michigan Technological University        



Historical and current maps of Lake Superior are under "other images"



1993-98 comparison of Lake Superior surface temperatures



Index of satellite images for Lake Superior and other Great Lakes


A Partnership Proposal from Michigan Technological University

Ecology of the Great Lakes Aboard the R/V Lake Guardian

Description of Course Sessions


1. The Ups and Downs of Lake Superior Water Levels & Shifting Shores and Eroding Beaches

Dr. Barb McTaggart, PhD, geologist, Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, Michigan Technological University

Lake Superior is a highly changeable lake. One of the things that change over time is water levels. These water level changes can be short term, seasonal, or long term. The reasons behind these water level changes will be demonstrated and discussed. We will visit several shoreline sites to see how changing water levels might affect the shoreline, as well as, how natural processes control shoreline positions, and how human activities have impacted shorelines. We will visit both eroding and building shorelines and learn how shoreline property owners can contribute to shoreline protection efforts.

2. Geology of the Lake Superior Basin


Ted Bornhorst, PhD, Professor, Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering


The Lake Superior Basin has a long history beginning about 3.5 billion years ago. During its history the basin has become endowed with significant natural concentration of elements such as copper, iron, and gold. The types of earth materials within the basin are quite varied including many types of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and unconsolidated glacial deposits. Participants will learn how the 1 billion-year-old bedrock of the Mid-continent Rift System has a profound influence on the shape and location of Lake Superior. Glaciers in the past two million years excavated the Lake Superior Basin, shaped the bedrock surface of the basin, and left behind numerous sediments. The geology of the basin plays a major role in the physical, chemical, and biological environment.


3.  Introduction to Biogeochemical Processes in Lake Superior


Noel Urban, PhD, Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological University


Students will assist MTU scientists with a typical sampling period using a CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth probe) to collect data for selected parameters (dissolved oxygen, pH, chlorophyll, temperature, etc.) from different depths and analyze the relationship of one to the other.  In addition, the use of a ponar sediment corer will be demonstrated and the core will be analyzed. Data from Lake Superior will be compared to data typically collected on other Great Lakes.


4. Micrometeorological Measurements of Air Toxins in the Water and Water Toxins in the Air


Judith Perlinger, PhD. Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological University

How do PCBs and other air pollutants affect Lake Superior? Students will learn what PCBs are, their origins, the meteorological processes that bring them to Lake Superior, and why they are toxic. The presenter will discuss how air pollutants enter the food chain, how they move in and out of the lake, and their potential impact on the Lake Superior aquatic ecosystem.


5. Keweenaw Current Research in Lake Superior: Physical, Chemical, and Biological


Sarah A. Green, PhD, Assistant Professor, Chemistry Department, Michigan Technological University


This presentation will introduce the Keweenaw Interdisciplinary Transport Experiment in Superior (KITES)

project and the physical, chemical, and biological processes along the western shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  This region is the site of a strong, seasonal current that produces distinct near-shore and off-shore communities in the lake. This presentation will also address satellite remote sensing of water properties, thermal and particle remote sensing of the Great Lakes.  We will show lake surface temperature maps and sediment and chlorophyll maps of the lower Great Lakes.  Examples include satellite remote sensing of thermal fronts, changes in sediment concentrations associated with zebra mussels, and satellite reconnaissance of novel algal blooms.


6. Hands-On Physical Limnology: Temperature, Oxygen & Solar Radiation


Sarah A. Green, PhD, Assistant Professor, Chemistry Department, Michigan Technological University

Matt Julius, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, St. Cloud State University


Students will use the ship’s equipment to collect data on the lake’s summer temperature thermocline, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, light penetration and its effect on the lake’s microflora and fauna, and the circulation patterns of water throughout the year. Students will explore the effect of heat radiation and absorption by the waters of Lake Superior and its effect on the area’s climate and weather.


7. The History of Keweenaw National Historic Park & Isle Royale National Park

Mark Gleason, Director, Isle Royale Institute & Michigan Technological University


The Lake Superior shoreline has a number of Parks and other public lands located on it. These Parks are popular with the visiting public as well as serving to preserve natural and cultural resources. This presentation will cover the history and resources of two of the USA National Parks that this research voyage will be near. Those two Parks are Isle Royale National Park and Keweenaw National Historical Park. Isle Royale National Park is a group of wilderness Islands located in the northwest corner of Lake Superior. Keweenaw National Historical Park was established to commemorate the upper Michigan copper industry. These two National Parks have significant Maritime Heritage components, which will be part of this presentation.


8. Flora & Fauna of Lake Superior: Phytoplankton, Zooplankton and Benthic Studies

Matt Julius, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, St. Cloud State University


Students will assist in taking phytoplankton and zooplankton tows and using the ship’s lab to identify organisms. Students will observe changes in numbers over time and at various depths.


9. Submerged Cultural Resources of Lake Superior

Mark Gleason, Director, Isle Royale Institute & Michigan Technological University

Gail VanderStoep, PhD, Dept. of Park, Recreation & Tourism, Michigan State University

The waters around Isle Royale National Park contain a wide array of historical items left from the activities of persons who lived here before we arrived on the scene. Many items discarded from mining and fishing settlements and large ships have been found, including dishes and silverware. During this presentation, we'll discuss the island's submerged cultural resources and examine artifacts from the Isle Royale museum collection that have been found underwater. You will hear stories of some of the park's major shipwrecks and learn how you can explore this underwater 'history book' through recreational SCUBA diving.


10. Lake Effects—A Lake Superior Curriculum Guide

Joan Chadde, Education Program Coordinator, Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, Michigan Technological University

Participants will engage in fun, hands-on activities that will bring the cultural history, geography, and ecology of Lake Superior to life, for them and their students in the classroom. These activities are linked to national content standards for science and social studies. Participants will receive a copy of Lake Effects: The Lake Superior Curriculum Guide that contains more than 30 interdisciplinary activities.

11. Reading and Writing about the Great Lakes: A Face in the Rock & other literature


Linda Rulison, middle school social studies and language arts teacher, Hancock Middle School, Hancock, MI

Ruth Ann Smith, middle school librarian, Hancock Middle School, Hancock, MI


Participants will explore a variety of fiction and non-fiction books, and brainstorm lesson plans that will require their students to use their language arts skills of reading for information and pleasure, and communicating with others. The presenters will share the thematic unit that they developed for the Loren Graham novel, A Face in the Rock: Legend, Lore and Loss of a Culture, as an example, and provide an annotated bibliography.



12. Great Lakes Shipping and Non-Native Invaders in the Great Lakes

Mark Gleason, Director, Isle Royale Institute and David Rockwell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Over the years, various activities of humans have led to the introduction of many non-native, aquatic nuisance species as well as invasive land plants. This presentation will review several aquatic invaders such as the ruffe, round goby, spiny water flea, and zebra mussels that have made their way into Lake Superior.