Every summer, teachers come to Michigan Tech to learn new ways to engage their students in science and engineering. This year, they learned how to maintain healthy bodies of water. It took place at the brand new Great Lakes Research Center. The GLRC will have an official opening on August 4.
It's five days packed with education and innovation. The Great Lakes Watershed Investigations Teacher Institute at Michigan Tech focused on water technology and studies. Teachers of all levels and backgrounds attended sessions to learn about wetlands, inland lakes, and maintaining a healthy watershed in the Great Lakes. By doing so, they acquire credits for maintaining their teaching certificates, but they also learn new ways to pique their students' interests.
"Teachers are going to get lots of ideas that they can integrate into their curriculum and get their students involved in being stewards and scientists here in the Great Lakes," said Joan Chadde, program coordinator for Michigan Tech's Center for Science, Math, and Environmental Education.
Collaboration among the teachers is one of the biggest benefits of the institute; they can bounce ideas off of each other.
"To kind of recharge them, get them with their peers, sharing ideas, and getting great content and skills that they can take back into the classroom," Chadde said.
One idea that many intend to take back into their classrooms is the ROV, or remotely operated vehicle, a simple and practical tool for underwater exploration.
"It's designed to go under the surface of the water and give us a visual of what's happening under the surface," said Matt Zimmer, math and science teacher at Dollar Bay High School.
The ROV can explore underwater environments that otherwise would be difficult, dangerous, or uneconomical to humans. Matt Zimmer has been helping his students at Dollar Bay High School build ROVs in his Student Organization of Aquatic Robots, or SOAR, program. SOAR is very hands on and directly involves the classroom in assembling the ROVs.
"The students design, develop, and then deploy the ROVs in the community," Zimmer said.
They are currently helping in the mitigation of zebra mussels at Isle Royale National Park. The other teachers hope to bring a similar level of science and interaction to their students.