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Sailing for Science: Educators Learn on Lake Michigan

Photo:Three masted sailing ship near large city

Sixteen educators from Minnesota and Wisconsin will immerse themselves in Lake Michigan aquatic science, sailing and shipwrecks next week, learning about coastal communities along the way and experiencing new computer technologies they can use in their classrooms.

Join the adventure by following the trip blog at the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Center for Great Lakes Literacy. Watch a stunning video of last year’s trip.

Departing from the Port of Milwaukee (Wisconsin), the educators will sail aboard a replica three-masted, wooden schooner S/V Denis Sullivan from Aug. 9 to Aug. 13 as part of a unique professional development workshop offered by the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Center for Great Lakes Literacy with financial support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.

The educators will work in teams with more experienced teachers mentoring those new to Great Lakes science concepts.

“Many of the mentor educators recommended the mentees, so they’re bringing people they know from their local communities,” said Anne Moser, Wisconsin Sea Grant senior special librarian. “This is a great way to build a community of practice so that educators can consult with each other once they’re back in their classrooms.”

Moser said the educators will become familiar with issues affecting the three Wisconsin ports they will be visiting along the way: Port Washington, Sheboygan and Two Rivers. These issues include degraded water quality, coastal erosion, environmental restoration and the history of commercial fishing. They will also take part in the dedication of a new park in Two Rivers.

The teachers are excited about this unique experience, with some astute qualifiers.

Bo DeRemee, a physics teacher at Ely Memorial High School in Ely, Minnesota, said, “I love science education, I love sailing, and I love the Great Lakes. Why wouldn’t you want to travel on an uncomfortable three-masted schooner for a week with people you don’t know?”

“This program has always intrigued me,” said Leanne Bronson, a science teacher at Superior Middle School in Superior, Wisconsin. “I love the whole idea of it but am leery of the close quarters and possibility of seasickness. After much deliberation, I have decided that the pros outweigh the cons and I am now kinda, sorta ready for this wonderful adventure.”

Aboard the historic schooner, the educators will work with scientists and staff from Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Denis Sullivan, to observe and analyze water and aquatic life, help sail the ship and learn about historic shipwrecks.

On land in Port Washington, the educators will study the impacts of erosion on beaches and bluffs as well as severe weather impacts on harbors and marinas, while gaining more in-depth information about the issues using story-map technology. In Sheboygan, the educators will tour habitat restoration sites and use photo comparison and interactive timeline technologies to explore changes associated with restoration projects. In Two Rivers, they will use geocaching and its close cousin, letterboxing, to learn about local fishing heritage and the working waterfront as well as study the water quality and aquatic life along the shore. They will conclude with a technology workshop at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum, in Two Rivers, where they will analyze the data they collected and practice using the technologies they learned in order to prepare for using them in their own classrooms.

Free public tours of the ship are available from:

  • Aug. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Port Washington, Coal Dock Park, 190 S. Wisconsin St.
  • Aug. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. in Sheboygan, South Pier
  • Aug. 12 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Two Rivers, Harbor Park, 13 East St. The Two Rivers event will also feature learning stations set up by the educators as part of the park dedication and Center for Great Lakes Literacy Great Lakes Awareness Day celebration.

The Minnesota educators are: Bo DeRemee and Mariah Jeske (Ely Memorial High School, Ely), Nikki Crowe (Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Cloquet), Lori Haak (Simley High School, Inver Grove Heights), Kellie Mulliner and Sherry Williams (Lester Park Elementary, Duluth), Josh Tharaldson (Marshall County Central High School, Newfolden), and John Weimholt (Hazel Park Preparatory Academy, St. Paul).

The Wisconsin educators are: Leanne Bronson and Robin Reckinger (Superior Middle School, Superior), Cindy Byers (Rosholt Middle School, Rosholt), Lori Danz (Superior District School Forest, Superior), Brian Henrickson (L.B. Clarke Middle School, Two Rivers), Jody Henseler (Wilson Junior High School, Manitowoc), Perry Smith (Arbor Vitae-Woodruff Elementary, Arbor Vitae), and Joe Zawacki (Pacelli Catholic Middle School, Stevens Point).

The cruise is organized by staff members from the Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs and the Denis Sullivan.


Posted on August 3, 2018

This page last modified on August 07, 2018     © 1996 – 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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