Education Aquanauts: Exploration-Based Interdisciplinary Science Skills Enhancement<br/><br/>During the last decade, more than half a dozen animal species have invaded the upper Great Lakes, some of them causing unequivocal and perhaps cataclysmic alterations in large lake ecosystems. All have established themselves in terms of having reproductively successful populations, but they are recent enough in some cases to have as-yet limited ranges. While both ecologically- and economically massive alterations in local and global habitats are occurring, the younger K-12 and even undergraduate population of the region is only slowly becoming aware of large water bodies including Lake Michigan. This program provides immersion science learning for teachers of primarily middle school students produces curriculum modules for use in in-school hands-on learning activities. The focus of the effort is the biological community of Green Can Reef, a local spawning reef at the heart (e.g., zebra mussels, perch recruitment) and also the edge (e.g., goby, amphipod decline) of invasive species influences. Specific objectives are to (1) expand teacher awareness of exotic species occurrence and activities in local waters; (2) engage teachers in short, intense hands-on workshops using modern-day tools including Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and analytical instrumentation to test specific, tractable hypotheses; (3) provide educators with resources to access current environmental research activities and results in their own region; and (4) develop educator-produced, scientist-assisted curriculum modules offering experimental, hypothesis-testing, hands-on research activities for students and public learners using locally-relevant subjects. The entire sequence is repeated such that observations span a period of systematic change, for example during spring bloom conditions or across thermal (de)stratification regimes. At the conclusion of the effort, each teacher will develop a single class-period activity that incorporates some aspect of their experience (data, concepts, underwater video), nurtured by active research scientists experienced in teacher enhancement programs.
Education Aquanauts: Exploration-Based Interdisciplinary Science Skills Enhancement