Public Learns how Scientists Assess the Health of the Great Lakes Aboard MTU's research vessel Agassiz at the Strawberry Fest 2013

The public was invited to see first-hand how scientists assess the health of Lake Superior, during free half-hour rides on Michigan Tech's research vessel Agassiz during the Copper Country Strawberry Festival in Chassell. RV Agassis crew Marcel Dijkstra and Stephen Roblee put in a long day as chief scientist and boat captain, respectively, conducting NINE 30-minutes science excursions serving 160 people of all ages! Jamey Anderson also put in a long day as ROV coordinator. So the Chassell dock was a busy place from noon to 4:30 pm.

During each ride, a Great Lakes scientist demonstrated the use of sampling equipment to collect plankton, sediment and other water-quality information that provide data about the health of the lake, or in this case, Chassell Bay. Microscopes aboard enabled participants to view the organisms collected.

The scientific excursions were from the Chassell Marina dock. Remotely-Operated-Vehicle (ROV) demonstrations also were conducted at the Chassell Marina dock throughout the afternoon by scientists from Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC).

"Copper Country residents and visitors are encouraged to learn how scientists study the Great Lakes and what factors contribute to a healthy lake," said Joan Chadde, education program director of the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, a sponsor of the event along with the GLRC. "These scientific excursions for the public have been offered at the Strawberry Festival since 2006 and have been extremely popular. Young people and adults alike enjoy the opportunity to interact with Great Lakes scientists and ask questions."

This year the event is funded by GM "Ride the Waves" along with support from the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society and the Chassell Lions Club. "Ride the Waves" is enabling more than 500 Copper Country young people and adults to ride on the Agassiz this summer to learn first hand about the Great Lakes.

See some sample video clips of the action below and a selection of pictures.


See Playlist of Great Lakes Research Outreach Programs

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Participants comments: 66 out of about 160 people fille dout the evaluation forms

1. What did you like most about the Agassiz scientific excursion?

  • Informative
  • Learning
  • Algal blooms
  • How the water temp works (I’m a retired commercial fisherman)
  • Going out on boat
  • The explanation Re: Lake changes, boat captain and education
  • I always enjoy a chance to learn more about my local community
  • The facts that we learned
  • Seeing the secchi disc being used
  • Very educational/interesting
  • The knowledge
  • The boat ride (4)
  • The great boat cruise on the lake
  • Data and explanation of study. Would like a tad more on tools used J
  • Good explanations (2)
  • Explanation of the cycles of water
  • Muck
  • Explanations/great attitude of presenter, easily understandable
  • Boat ride (Ryan, 7), Lake plant growth info
  • Explained all aspects VERY WELL!
  • Learning about the disc
  • Lake info
  • Oxygen part of lake
  • Whole ride was informative
  • The ship, the captain, the first mate Anchors away!
  • The presenter was excellent
  • Equipment explanation
  • Hands on
  • Informative and easy to understand
  • Learning about the research being done
  • Science
  • The lake, the explanation, the company…. The views
  • Whats happening to lake bottom
  • The explanation of copper extraction
  • The scientist guide was very well informed. The captain was amazing.
  • Living on Superior anything dealing with Great Lakes and connecting waters is very interesting.
  • We enjoyed seeing the various types of equipment used.
  • The water
  • Photosynthesis and phytoplankton
  • Information about the lake bottom
  • The information he gave. Very interesting.
  • The explanation of lake oxygen
  • Examples of water changes with temperature and season were mentioned.
  • Very good demonstration of the water equipment
  • The examples
  • Boat ride, science information
  • Was fun and informative
  • Learning more stuff about the lakes
  • Secchi disk
  • Learning on site
  • The boat and eutrophication
  • Explanation of dead zones
  • Learned something about type of research Agassiz does
  • Interesting topic
  • Learning about the states of the water

2. How will you be able to incorporate the information you gained into your work or daily life? Explain.

  • Understanding this can help waste disposal
  • To know about water
  • Don’t mess up the bottom
  • Not sure – don’t put phosphorus in water
  • Local village board, and local lake. Property owner.
  • I can put up posters not to import plants or fish
  • I think differently about the lakes
  • Telling my class at school about it.
  • Be careful not to pollute
  • Good to understand about the phosphorus
  • Consciousness and conservation, curiosity piqued as well!
  • Water temps information was interesting
  • Use less fertilizer
  • I am involved with lake dredging from an economic development perspective and this provided new insights
  • Knowing when and where to fish, and movement of unwanted fish and water life to lake Superior
  • Be more eco-friendly
  • Whether the water is safe or not
  • I use less phosphate
  • Tell who will listen
  • I will watch out for sludge bugs (self-explanatory)
  • It gives me a greater appreciation of the need for protecting resources
  • Careful of what I put in drain and lake
  • Relate people to their environment
  • Improved general knowledge
  • Will contact the crew to coordinate if possible with my atmospheric research
  • Its always good knowledge to have
  • Just to be aware of underwater life – may retain some info
  • By understanding pollution’s impact, I can be more responsible in my treatment of the lake.
  • Study the brochure
  • Not sure - 3
  • By not dumping phosphorous into the lakes
  • Use it when you get back to school
  • Don’t go by the water
  • Satisfaction of general curiously/climate change awareness
  • Do not discard items in water
  • To keep the lake clean and safe for fishes
  • Zooplankton information was interesting
  • Not to dump phosphate in the lake
  • Knowing where the best places to fish at
  • Taking care of our lakes
  • Choosing fertilizer I know not to have phosphate
  • More respect for the lake and learning about what affects the lake
  • Helpful when considering issues of stamp sand
  • Understand more about what I’m seeing when I go to the beach – effect of man on environment
  • I’ll be informative to others at the lake
  • Protect the environment and lakes
  • Share with friends

3. How could the Agassiz & related activities be improved?

  • Explore more
  • Inform the public
  • More history please
  • More activities
  • More time to do more hands on activities
  • Use a microphone – hard to hear with boat motor (3)
  • Shorter didn’t allow for as much depth of info, but I loved it! ride (great to offer more rides though) (2)
  • Longer excursion & more info
  • Longer ride & more time to explain more things (14)
  • More about what has been learned
  • More scientific study and research with more scientists
  • Love using those 5 senses!
  • Keep up good work
  • Talk about geology some?
  • Mention how the research results are used.
  • It’s already perfect (2)
  • Given the time very good job
  • More kid-level info
  • Explain more about plankton
  • More activities; less lecture
  • More public opportunities to go on lake testing cruise

4. What more would you like to know about the Great Lakes?

  • Fish species (2)
  • Are all the lakes the same ?
  • Local lakes
  • History. What ppl have done by them to affect them.
  • How long would it take for invasive species to take over the lake ?
  • Understanding the differences between lakes and human impact
  • Water depths
  • Much !
  • Depths, underwater views of boat works
  • More about the impact of global warming on thier future
  • Lots ! How can we help the ecosystems success ?
  • Same material, but more in depth
  • The exact depth
  • What took the place of phosphates in detergents ? Zeolite ?
  • I would like to revew data coming from scientific studies
  • Zebra mussels
  • History
  • Pollutants and where they came from
  • Whatever !! Yeah ! U.P.
  • None presently
  • What kind of species are especially sensitive to organic pollution ?
  • Gay sands and their affect and movement, covering our white sands ??
  • Lots of stuff (2)
  • How introduced plants affect the Great Lakes
  • Do zebra mussles live forever ?
  • Asian carp and sea lampraey
  • Nothing right now
  • Native and introduces fish, geology
  • How the quality has changed (improved)
  • To know more for the different species that live in the lake
  • Kinds of ecosystems
  • More about what really lives at the bottom, ie bloodworms
  • How safe is it to drink ?
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