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Place-Based Games, Other Education Tools to Support New Lake Superior Reserve

The University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota Sea Grant college programs are funding the development of place-based role-playing games that involve a quest, and other innovative educational tools to help people learn about and care for the newly designated Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (LSNERR).

The LSNERR, which consists exclusively of public lands and waters owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, City of Superior, Douglas County and the University of Wisconsin, is being designated in a ceremony held today on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus. Speakers at the ceremony include Matt Frank, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Dr. Larry Robinson; and leaders from the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

LSNERR collaborators Jeff Gunderson, director of the University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program, and Anders Andren, director of the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant College Program, are gratified the freshwater estuary where the St. Louis River empties into Lake Superior has earned national attention and support.

The new reserve spans 16,700 acres of pristine land, as well as urbanized working waterfront along the Wisconsin side of the St. Louis River, which divides Wisconsin and Minnesota at the western end of the lake. The LSNERR has become the 28th reserve in the National Estuarine Research Reserve program, funded by NOAA. It is only the second freshwater reserve in the system.

"I applaud the strong leadership of the University of Wisconsin-Extension in bringing us to this day. The Lake Superior designation represents a proud moment and is due in large measure to the work invested by UW-Extension to bring a national estuarine research reserve to this area to research, protect and educate about a diverse natural area that influences the world’s largest freshwater lake," Andren said.

"Sea Grant is excited to be focusing some of its research and education efforts on the LSNERR," Gunderson said.

A $166,570 Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant joint initiative will, among other things, yield place-based games involving a quest and delivered through hand-held mobile devices, an online “deep map” that incorporates vignettes of local communities, geo-tours of the estuary and an array of complementary online resources. The work is intended to build spatial literacy, using cultural, commerce-based, scientific and historical information to help people understand many facets of the land and water in the LSNERR and the Lake Superior region.

The games and other resources will be widely available through the Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant Websites, www.seagrant.wisc.edu and www.seagrant.umn.edu, in about two years. That online presence means that even those who don’t live near Lake Superior can experience it virtually.

Researchers in Minnesota are also contributing to another part of the overall project. They are sharing water-quality data so that resource managers and local decision makers can craft scientifically informed plans regarding land and water use in the watersheds affecting the LSNERR.

Other key partners on the LSNERR are the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior.

Posted on October 26, 2010

This page last modified on October 26, 2010     © 1996 – 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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