Friday 16 April 2010

Education is Fun at Thunderbay

Hi everyone!

We have had a very busy schedule here at Thunder Bay already this week. We had learned a little bit about the sanctuary’s shipwrecks, so Sam and I asked if we could help spread the word about protecting these shipwrecks with some of the education staff. They were very happy to have our help, and we had a great time talking with the students!

“Here is a picture of Sam and I getting ready to help out with a local classroom at the Alpena City Marina”

Early this week we went out to the Alpena Marina and helped the sanctuary’s Great Lakes Science Initiative partners from Sanborn Elementary. They are building Remote Operated Vehicles to study zebra mussels, an invasive species here in the Great Lakes. The class will use their underwater robots to document zebra mussels on shipwrecks in the sanctuary and to study the Thunder Bay River, an area the zebra mussels have also populated.

The students met with Angie, an educator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to learn more about water quality. This made Sam very happy, as he says good water always makes him feel better.

We helped the students take samples of water to test its clarity and pH and to see what creatures were living in it.
“I’m helping out as a tether handler for the student’s ROV”

The students used their ROVs as well as some special tools to do this, and Sam and I were happy to help. Angie talked to the students about her friend Sassy the sturgeon. Lake sturgeon are a large fish that used to be plentiful in the Great Lakes, but now there are very few left. Sassy told us that sturgeon take a long time to mature and that her species has lost a lot of habitat in rivers due to dams and erosion.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to help the Lake Sturgeon to repopulate the Great Lakes by helping to restore some of their habitat. The students were very excited to meet Sassy, Sam and me while we helped out!

Sam and I also worked with a preschool class touring the museum.
We helped out by watching the “X” to mark the treasure at the end of their scavenger hunt and talking to the kids about keeping the ocean healthy and clean. I talked to the students about my travels around the world and Sam reminded the students “don’t trash where you splash”, one of his messages with the sanctuary system.
“Here we are at the end of the treasure hunt!”

Then we helped teach a 2nd grade class that visited the museum. Finally, I went to visit a group of 3rd graders in their classroom. There I helped the students to build models of the Great Lakes. Some of them even featured shipwrecks from the sanctuary! ….

Our visit has been a lot of fun while we’ve been in Thunder Bay and it’s great that Sam and I have been able to help spread the message about the oceans in a place that is still closely connected to them even though it is far away. Our trip into the Great Lakes has sure been a lot of fun for us. It was also a big surprise for me. Sam tells me we have another busy day ahead of us tomorrow, but bye for now! Ed.

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