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Two Teachers Make Waves with Aquatic Opportunities Provided by Sea Grant

Photo of Lynn Kurth and Cindy Byers

Kurth (left) and Byers aboard the Denis Sullivan with the Hydrolab. Credit: Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Two teachers have made exceptional use of the educational resources offered through the Center for Great Lakes Literacy, a collaborative effort by educators in the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Lynn Kurth, a science teacher for Prairie River Middle School in Merrill, Wis., and Cindy Byers, a science and reading teacher for Rosholt Middle School in Rosholt, Wis., bonded over a Hydrolab in 2011. This large, tubular piece of equipment takes water quality readings and was part of Sea Grant's Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop on Lake Ontario aboard a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) research vessel. Kurth and Byers were drawn to the Hydrolab during the workshop because both of their schools are near rivers and the EPA was providing the device on loan for use with their classrooms after the cruise. They saw the opportunity to partner.

"We had the kids Skype with each other a couple of times and present the Hydrolab data they collected," Byers said. "It seemed quite exotic to the kids and they were excited to use a piece of equipment that scientists use. A lot of the reason we've been able to do so much with the program is that we've been supporting each other all along."

When they opened the Hydrolab box after it arrived at their school, "It was overwhelming," said Byers. "If it was overwhelming to us, we could imagine how overwhelming it would be to teachers who had never seen a Hydrolab before and needed to use it with their kids in two days."

The two worked with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant for a year to develop a teacher instruction manual that supplements the technical manual that comes with the Hydrolab. It contains step-by-step instructions and lesson plans.

The two teachers decided to share their methods with other teachers and have since conducted several teacher workshops with the Hydrolab in cooperation with Wisconsin Sea Grant and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. They've also shared their techniques at a conference in Alabama in cooperation with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. Minnesota Sea Grant provided the duo with funding to go to an International Association for Great Lakes Research conference at Purdue University.

"Lynn and Cindy truly embody what the Center for Great Lakes Literacy is all about," said Kathy Kline, Wisconsin Sea Grant Education Outreach Specialist. "They've taken their Great Lakes research experiences back to their classrooms, collaborated with each other to produce dynamic materials, and shared what they've learned with other educators."

Whatever their future holds, the teachers expect to be involved with Sea Grant. "The Great Lakes Sea Grant Programs all offer different pieces," Kurth said. "What each brings to the table is unique. Being in central Wisconsin, at first I thought my location was a big disadvantage. But I can easily call Kristen TePas in Illinois, we're within striking distance of Cindy Hagley in Duluth, and I can definitely turn to Kathy Kline in Madison if I need something. So being landlocked has worked better than I thought it would for aquatic education."

Story courtesy of Marie Zhuikov, Wis. Sea Grant
Posted on January 12, 2015

This page last modified on January 12, 2015     © 1996 – 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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