Barbara Maxwell is a high school Physics teacher in Detroit. She can teach her students the science in nature, but now she's learning how to teach them to protect it.
"I'm hoping to get them thinking more ecologically sound, thinking more of the Great Lakes and what they can do to preserve it because when it's gone, it's gone," said Maxwell.
Maxwell is one of 20 teachers on a five-day U.P. tour with the help of Michigan Tech and Maritime Teachers Institute. The tour is more than a field trip. Teachers are learning about the value of the Great Lakes and how mines use maritime transportation.
"They're finding out what sorts of cargos are shipped on the Great Lakes, what port they're shipped out of, what port they're shipped into, and how we use these natural resources," said Joan Chadde, Program Coordinator at the Center for Science at Michigan Technological University.
But to teach it, one must first see it. First stop: Cliff's Natural Resources' Empire and Tilden mines. The first stop is the Empire Mine pit. It's an opening around 1,200 feet deep, and it's the main source of iron ore. The group learned how iron ore is mined, processed, and shipped.
For Maxwell, protecting nature begins at the start of the operation, with reclamation to the land.
"I was very impressed with how responsible they are with replacing the natural earth and resources when they're done mining," Maxwell said. "They're taking that to the nth degree to make sure Michigan looks just like it did before they started the mine."