Technology-Rich Workshops at Stone Lab

Bringing COSEE Great Lakes education to new school audiences will require new tools that use available technologies for science learning. In the summer of 2008, Dr. Rosanne Fortner collaborated with scientists from Wisconsin and Maryland to offer two technology-based workshops at Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie.

Curriculum Development and Evaluation, June 22-28

This course brought Ohio and Wisconsin teachers together with Dr. David Hart and his high school son, Noah, authors of the Google Earth application for Paddle-to-the-Sea. Together the group focused on exploring what Google Earth offers in terms of modern curriculum applications. For technology development, the course objectives were to

  • Identify & access sources of data about GL environment
  • Develop Google Earth applications for existing curricula


For the development portion of the class, teachers either took existing Greatest of the Great Lakes activities and put them into Google Earth formats, or pursued other topics they could quickly use in teaching. Together the group learned the vocabulary of dynamic processing in Google Earth, how to “fly over” a path, overlay maps onto satellite images, and apply near-realtime data such as lake water temperature and winds as images on Earth scenes. Most class members are still learning and working on their activities, but some products are posted at www.Earthquests.com, a web site hosted by Sandusky teacher Pat Kania. Topics developed in the class are

  • The Great Lakes Triangle [sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald]
  • What happens to nutrients in an Estuary?
  • Erosion activities: Painesville Twp Park example
  • Olentangy watershed exploration
  • Wind energy sites in Ohio
  • Compare characteristics of fresh & salt water fish
  • Songbird migration pathways and obstacles


The other component of the June course was Evaluation. For this the class examined COSEE’s initial choices of 41 marine education activities for the collection to be titled Fresh and Salt. In this learning experience the teachers looked at the selected activities to determine their curriculum application, Ocean Literacy Principles addressed, quality of lesson design and assessment, completeness for easy use by teachers, and relevance to science standards. Watch for the best of these activities to be offered for pilot testing in 2009!


Realtime Aquatic Data for Science Teaching, July 14-17.

As part of the outreach program for COSEE Coastal Trends, Drs. Laura Murray from Maryland and Diedre Gibson from Virginia invited Great Lakes educators to a workshop about access to and interpretation of ocean observing data for teaching. The 10 educators supported by the two COSEEs included a preservice teacher from Michigan, 6 secondary science teachers from Ohio, one from Alabama and one from Maryland, plus an informal educator from Wisconsin! Participants learned about the observing system parameters available as buoy data for the ocean and Great Lakes, and how to distinguish between discrete and continuous data. The topics to which the data were applied included lectures and labs about

  • Climate change: sea level rise, lake level drop
  • Water movement: circulation and its drivers
  • Vertical mixing and density
  • Dead zone development and impacts


With the unique facilities of Stone Lab, the facilitators from COSEE Coastal Trends learned as much about the Great Lakes as they taught us about the oceans! The group found data at the Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System very useful, as well as the data from buoys in the lakes. Aboard a Biolab cruise, the leaders and participants from the marine coasts were astonished by our deep Secchi reading [they would rarely get one meter in the Chesapeake Bay; we got eight] and the shallowness of the Ballast Island Deep [10 meters; they really wanted 15 minimum]. At the same time, the sharing of learning from fresh to saltwater and vice-versa was incredibly important as an outcome of the workshop. No amount of “telling” about differences between the North Coast and the others could replace the observing of those differences.


Other comparisons were done using lab activities. We studied circulation of surface water using rheoscopic fluids poured into models of the coastline. “Wind” from hair dryers showed how shoreline shape influences water movement. COSEE Coastal Trends brought density demonstration tanks that easily show how fresh and salt water or warm and cold water will stratify in the water column. This led to discussions of density barriers and depletion of oxygen at depth that results in the “dead zones” found in both fresh and salt water, and a computer study showing how buoys in the Chesapeake Bay facilitate identification of such zones.

Another lab dealt with the changes in water levels as a result of climate change. Drawing new shorelines on maps of Toledo and the Maryland coast demonstrated the impact of sea level rise and lake level drop. A program about climate change was assembled by GLERL scientists and presented by Dr. Rochelle Sturtevant, our COSEE Great Lakes science liaison, and there were lively discussions of the extent of changes that will be faced on both fresh and salty coastlines.

If we had set out to establish the best means of sharing our Great Lakes science with marine educators, we could not have devised a better opportunity than the one offered by COSEE Coastal Trends at Stone Lab. Thanks to Dr. Laura Murray for suggesting the joint workshop, and to all whose enthusiasm and participation made it a great success!