Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop Aboard the R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian

The Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Great Lakes invites 4th-10th grade teachers and non-formal educators to participate in its Lake Guardian Shipboard and Shoreline Science workshop. This year’s cruise on Lake Ontario is designed to promote Great Lakes and ocean sciences in formal and informal education and forge lasting relationships between science researchers and educators. Participants will be involved in field exercises, working with scientists, examining curricula and resources, and exploring classroom activities relating to the Great Lakes and ocean resources. Fifteen teachers will be selected from around the Great Lakes basin.

This one-week workshop takes place aboard the U.S. EPA’s 180-foot research vessel the R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian. It will offer first-hand explorations of Lake Ontario geography, resources, processes and issues, and demonstrate how Great Lakes science parallels the science of the world’s oceans. Highlights of the trip include passage through the Welland Canal, cruising among the EPA water quality sampling stations on Lake Ontario and stops in ports like Oswego and Clayton, New York. Participants will be involved in collecting plankton and benthic organisms, data collection and analysis, and discussions of how the Great Lakes and oceans change with human activity, geographic location, geology, biology and weather. Participants will also get to interact with researchers and scientists aboard the vessel and during visits to several coastal ports to explore special habitats and informal learning sites. Many teachable moments will occur as we encounter other vessels, observe waterfowl, and stop at shore facilities. This is Lake Ontario learning at its best!

Institute Objectives

COSEE GL’s plan is for teachers to be able to:

  • Interact with scientists conducting research during the cruise; collect and analyze data en route.
  • Synthesize and provide examples of how water characteristics interact with land, life, weather, and human activities.
  • Demonstrate how to implement Great Lakes information into their existing curriculum or informal education media using traditional and/or electronic means.
  • Compare Great Lakes systems with ocean counterparts, with regard to issues of human impacts and natural changes over time.

COSEE GL is prepared to:

  • Introduce teachers to regional Great Lakes and ocean science research topics and high quality curricular and educational resources.
  • Provide an effective interface between teachers, Great Lakes and ocean science researchers.
  • Promote inquiry learning through existing curricular and educational resources, aligning with National Science Education Standards.
  • Facilitate the development, exchange and implementation of curricula and lessons for the participant's classroom.
  • Provide for long-term support, evaluation and communication between COSEE Great Lakes and the workshop participants.

As outcomes of the program, participants will be expected to:

  1. Develop a reflective journal based on class activities.
  2. Develop a Great Lakes evaluative tool for use with their students.
  3. Participate in research protocol development and implementation.
  4. Complete a plan for continuation of course ideas and scientist interaction.
  5. Participate in all aspects of program evaluation.

Examples of topics for the Great Lakes/ocean science program include:

  • Coastal processes
  • Sand Dune ecosystems
  • Plankton and benthos
  • Global climate change impacts
  • Food chains and food webs
  • Exotic and endangered species
  • Shipping and recreation
  • AND the Great Lakes across the curriculum!

Institute Team

Helen Domske
NY Sea Grant Senior Extension Specialist, Associate Director, Great Lakes Program - UB
Dr. Jim Lubner
Education Coordinator, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Advisory Services
Marti Martz
Pennsylvania Sea Grant Specialist
Dr. Gregory Boyer
Director, Great Lakes Research Consortium, SUNY ESF
Jackie Adams
IL-IN Sea Grant, Great Lakes Water Quality Extension, Liaison to U.S. EPA GLNPO
Chiara Zuccarino-Crowe
ORISE Fellow on placement at U.S. EPA GLNPO


R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian The R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) largest research and monitoring vessel. It is the only self-contained, non-polluting research ship on the Great Lakes. The R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian, operated by the EPA’s Chicago-based Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), conducts monitoring programs that sample the water, aquatic life, sediments, and air in order to assess the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem by using state-of-the-art data collection techniques and instruments during the biannual spring and summer surveys.


The workshop will begin and end in Buffalo, New York, where the vessel will dock near the Erie Basin Marina. The R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian will travel through the Welland Canal to reach Lake Ontario and several ports along New York’s shore. Each day will involve on-the-water exercises for learning about and sampling water quality, sediments and organisms, discussions with scientists and reading of their work, curriculum activities on the day’s topics, and shore activities with other scientists. Nights will be spent in ports or on Lake Ontario, with lectures, video programs or time to work on projects. Although the schedule will remain flexible due to the ship’s research schedule, stops are currently planned for Youngstown, Clayton and Oswego, New York.

Participant Selection Criteria

Applications are invited from:

  1. Teachers of grades 4-10 from the Great Lakes basin who teach or are willing to teach Great Lakes and marine science in their classrooms.
  2. Educators from non-formal educational institutions that have Great Lakes or marine science exhibits or plan to add such topics to their programs.

All applicants must have a letter of reference from their principal or supervisor documenting the applicant’s professional qualifications for the workshop and indicating that the administrator will support efforts to integrate Great Lakes/ocean science topics into the curriculum as these topics apply to state science standards.

Participants will be selected to provide regional geographic distribution and ethnic diversity. Teachers who are Native American or members of groups underrepresented in science and/or who teach significant numbers of students who are members of such groups are encouraged to apply.

Applicant Procedures

All communications concerning the Institute and applications should be addressed to:

Helen Domske
New York Sea Grant
University at Buffalo
229 Jarvis Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-4400
Phone: 716-645-3610
Fax: 716-645-3612

Completed application with required principal or supervisor signature must be received by April 25, 2008. Initial notification of participants and alternates will be made by email by May 12, 2008. In selecting individuals for participation and otherwise in the administration of this Institute, COSEE Great Lakes will not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status. All selected applicants for the R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian are required to view a “Safety Aboard the R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian” video available at: prior to participation.

PARTICIPANT SUPPORT: Workshop Participants will receive:

  1. Stipend of $250
  2. Housing and meals onboard the R/V Lake Guardian for six nights at no cost to the participant.
  3. Travel support based on distance to workshop port of embarkation (Buffalo, NY), not to exceed $150 for participants traveling more than 100 miles.
  4. Exemplary Great Lakes and marine curricula and resources.
  5. Long-term support and communication between COSEE Great Lakes and the workshop participants.

GRADUATE CREDITS: Graduate credit may be available through Universities associated with COSEE GL. Please contact Helen Domske ( for more information. Participants would be responsible for all tuition and fees.


Participants will have room and board in the Crew’s quarters of the vessel, 2 or 3 berths per room with small space for gear. Rooms include bunks, desks, lockers, and computer LAN connections. Some quarters have private bathrooms with showers and others have bathrooms shared between two rooms. Recreation, exercise, and meal facilities aboard the R/V Peter Wise Lake Guardian are excellent.

COSEE GL Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Grants No. 0528674 (NSF) and NA06OAR4170017 (NOAA).

For Scientists:

Let COSEE help in engaging educational outreach

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