Category Archives: Outreach

Lake Superior Water Festival

IMG_4231aby Joan Chadde

Nearly 500 9th-12th grade students in 18 classes from 10 schools in Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic and Ontonagon Counties flooded MTU’s Great Lakes Research Center on Wednesday, September 30th. Schools from as close as Hancock, Lake Linden, and Dollar Bay, in addition to schools from as far away as Ironwood, Watersmeet, Baraga and L’Anse, spent one-half day at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center as part of the 4th Annual Lake Superior Water Festival. More than 15 different sessions were offered throughout the day, presented by Michigan Tech faculty, staff, students, community organizations, government agencies, educators, and authors.

The Water Festival provides an opportunity for students to learn about and celebrate our most precious natural resource – clean, fresh water! A wide variety of topics related to Lake Superior and the Great Lakes, from science & engineering to social studies and the arts were presented. Students attended four 35-minute activities. Some of the offerings included: Remotely-Operated- Vehicles, forest hydrology, Great Lakes & climate change, Leave No Trace Outdoors, River of Words, Remote Sensing, U.S. Coast Guard, and more.

The 2015 Water Festival is made possible with funding from Earth Force, Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, and Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative. The Festival is coordinated by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative and hosted by Michigan Tech’s Great Lake Research Center.

See the 2015 Lake Superior Water Festival Photo Gallery

See a Video: Great Lakes – Lake Superior Water Festival

UpperMichigan Source News Story: Water Fest aims to get students interested in STEM fields

Lake Superior Water Festival Sep 30, 2015 at Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Tech
Lake Superior Water Festival Sep 30, 2015 at Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Tech

2015 Water Festival Activity Descriptions

All Day Sessions

1. Find Your Fish
Students will explore the role of the Lake Superior food web in providing the energy and mineral nutrition required to grow a Lake Trout. Hands on activities will include microscopic examination of the plankton and examination of the creatures who inhabit the lake bottom mud.

Dr. Marty Auer, MTU Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Graduate & Undergraduate Students
Location: 102 Great Lakes Research Center

2. Physics of Water
Explore how water interacts with the world around it. Investigate how water interacts with light, magnets, electricity, and heat. Then delve into some of the properties that make water unique like surface tension, the unique way it freezes, and cloud formation.

Scott Rutterbush, Laboratory Associate, MTU Dept. of Physics
Location: B024 Fisher Hall basement

3. U.S. Coast Guard – Water Safety & Careers
The local Coast Guard station in Dollar Bay is responsible for keeping boaters safe on Lake Superior and connecting waterways which includes performing rescues when needed—in all seasons and in all weather. Ask them what they like about their job and what it takes to become a “coastie.”

US Coast Guard officers
Location: GLRC Docks


4. Climate Change and the Great Lakes: How is climate change expected to affect the Great Lakes region and what does this mean for water levels and shorelines? Learn more about future projections and what communities are doing to plan for changes.

Kristen Schmidt
Northern Institute for Applied Carbon Science
Location: Geowall ground floor

5. Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)
Find out how this high school student group designs their own remotely-operated vehicles and uses them to train Isle Royale National Park rangers to monitor underwater aquatic invasive species, especially the zebra mussel.

Dollar Bay High School SOAR (“Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics”)
Location: GLRC Boathouse

6. Natural Selection: A Simulation
Natural selection is a fundamental concept of life sciences. Students will observe how populations change through natural selection by tracking changes in a population over time through a simple hands on simulation.

Tony Matthys, PhD student, MTU Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Location: 707 Dow

7. Low Impact Development
What can we do to reduce runoff after heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt to prevent erosion and polluted runoff from reaching streams, rivers, and lakes? Visit a green roof to see how they reduce runoff and help recharge groundwater.

Jennie Tyrrell, PhD student, MTU Department Civil Engineering-Water Resources
Location: GLRC entry

8. GUPPIE the Underwater Explorer
Students will learn about underwater gliders, the simple physics behind the vehicles’ locomotion, and their applications. GUPPIE will be presented in action to the students and the role of its components will be explained. Students will build their own micro underwater gliders.

Dr. Nina Mahmoudian, and students: Donna Fard, Bingxi Li, Barzin Moridian
MTU Dept of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Location: 300 R. L. Smith (MEEM) Bldg – Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Lab

9. Leave No Trace
Students will engage in activities that illustrate some of the Leave No Trace principles —plan ahead, travel and camp on durable surfaces, leave what you find, dispose of waste properly, respect wildlife, minimize campfire impacts and be considerate of other visitors.

Nathan Miller, Keweenaw Land Trust
Location: 1st floor GLRC by windows

10. The Big Green Monster: Emerald Ash Borer and the Water Cycle
How can a tiny green bug alter the water cycle of an entire forest?

Nick Bolton, MTU graduate student
Location: 202 GLRC by windows

11. River of Words
Let the theme of water and watersheds inspire you and pour out your heart like a river to share the special relationship we all have with water in all its many forms.

Evie Johnson, Senior Lecturer Michigan Tech University, Coordinator of English Education
Liz Fujita, Coordinator, Center for Pre-College Outreach
Location: 504 ME-EM (R. L. Smith Bldg.)

12. Remote Sensing
Examine some of the beautiful and interesting images collected by NASA’s satellites. Look over the images carefully to determine what the images are actually showing or what we could learn from them.

Brice Grunert, MTU graduate student
Location: 202 GLRC by windows

AFTERNOON-ONLY Sessions (Noon-2:50 PM)

13. Kite Aerial Photography Across the Keweenaw
Ever wonder what the Keweenaw’s vast water resources look like from a bird’s eye view? Kite aerial photographer Nathan “Invincible” Miller will show you how he takes unique photos of our landscape and shares fun stories from his kite flying adventures.

Nathaniel Miller, Project Manager, Keweenaw Land Trust
Location: Geowall – GLRC

14. Water Cycles and Human Impacts
Investigate the water cycle and the human connections and impacts upon the land in this lively Water Pictionary based activity. Come prepared to jump right in and then generate solutions.

Joe Panci, Environmental Education Coordinator, Ottawa National Forest
Location: 201 GLRC

15. Home Energy Efficiency
Find out ways to save on home energy use and how to use a Kill-o-watt meter to measure the electricity use of various appliances. Gain some great skills working on one of HEET’s home weatherization teams.

Melissa Davis, New Power Tour and the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET)
Location: 202 GLRC

2015 Green Lecture Series presents: ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN YOUR HOME – What Can YOU Do?

oct15s2015 Green Lecture Series presents:


By Yvonne Lewis, energy auditor /contractor with CLEAR RESULT, Lansing

Date & Time: Thursday, Oct. 15, 7:00-8:30 pm

Location: G002 Hesterberg Hall, Forestry Building, Michigan Tech

Cost: FREE Enjoy coffee, tea & refreshments

 See the Flyer: EnergyEfficiencyoct15-15pdf

Find out some low to NO-cost ways to reduce home energy use:

 How to define your thermal boundary,

 About furnace filters and how they affect heating comfort and cost,

 How “phantom” items are using power even when not in use,

 How air infiltration into your home quickly removes heat,

 Hands-on demonstrations for DIY caulking, faucet aerators, filter sizing and

changing, dry venting, and fireplace chimney work

 Take home a checklist to inspect your own home

 Sign up for a FREE energy assessment of your home.


Cosponsored by:

Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative

Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society

Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Keweenaw Land Trust

2015 Green Lecture Series presents:

image77071-scol2015 Green Lecture Series presents: Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative: Working to create a renewable and sustainable future

The Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative: Working to create a renewable and sustainable future
By Terry Sharik, Dean, and Mark Rudnicki, Professor of Practice, MTU School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science

Date & Time: Thursday, Oct. 1st, 7:00-8:30 pm
Location: G002 Hesterberg Hall, Forestry Building, Michigan Tech
Cost: FREE Enjoy coffee, tea & refreshments

About the Presentation:

image118416-scolA sustainable future will not be based on non-renewable resources. Wise production, use and recycling of forest biomaterials−any organic materials extracted from forest ecosystems, such as wood, mushrooms, edible berries, and tree sap−needs to be a fundamental part of the answer.
Find out how the statewide Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative (MiFBI) is working to enhance quality of life in Michigan by fostering sustainable forests, communities, and economies through innovative and responsible production, use, and recycling of forest biomaterials. The Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative, spearheaded by Michigan Tech in 2013, has become a statewide effort comprised of over 300 forest stakeholders from across industry, academia, NGOs, and government.
The Initiative’s challenge is how to extract these biomaterials from forest ecosystems without compromising the integrity of the forest; how to process these materials to fully utilize the resource; how to market these materials regionally, nationally, and globally; and how to recycle these materials back through ecosystems. Trees are one of our most treasured and useful renewable natural resources, providing wood for our homes, furniture, and paper, and tree chemicals to produce rayon cloth, food, medicine, rubber, and so much more.
The scope of this effort is ambitious and its success depends on collaboration among individuals from many different government agencies, municipalities, institutions, academic disciplines, organizations, businesses and industries across Michigan who have a stake in Michigan’s forest biomaterials.

ForestBiomaterials imageCosponsored by:
Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative
Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society
Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Keweenaw Land Trust

Oct. 1 – Green Lecture: The Michigan Forest Biomaterials Initiative 

Biomaterial FLYER 09.11.15.

Biomaterial Engineering New Wood Uses Daily Mining Gazette article 09.08.15

Not Your Grandpas Woody Daily Mining Gazette article 09.09.15

“End of Summer” Science Camp Starts Sep. 1

launchingEnd of Summer Science Camp T-Th, Sept. 1-3, 9am – 4 pm:
(For children entering) Grades 1-3: Nature at the Nara Center
(For children entering) Grades 4-6: Science & Nature Explorations in the Great Outdoors
Coordinated by the MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach at the Great Lakes Research Center

Grades 1-3: Nature at the Nara Center
Enjoy time outdoors at the Nara Nature Center exploring trails, wildlife, and plants! Make nature observations, play games, and do nature crafts as a fun way to end summer vacation. DROP OFF at the Nara Nature Center.

Grades 4-6: Science & Nature Explorations in the Great Outdoors
This group will spend the 1st day at the Great Lakes Research Center engaged in forays around campus. On Day 2 & 3, we’ll explore the Keweenaw Land Trust’s Marsin Nature Area with bug, wildlife and aquatic experts. There will be time to play games, read stories, write poetry, daydream, and record observations in journals. Ahhhh, those relaxing last days of summer! Weather permitting, we’ll have water activities! DROP OFF at the Great Lakes Research Center. An MTU van will transport students to Marsin Center on Wednesday & Thursday. Please note on the registration form if you will drop off your student at the Nara Nature Center at 9:30 am and pick up at 3:30 pm.

See the Flyer: 2015 End of Summer Science Camp (PDF)

Register Online: Registration: Summer Science Camp or Register by August 24.
Cost: $135 per student Limited to: 20 students (Gr. 1-3) & 15 students (Gr. 4-6)
Pay by credit card: MTU Cashier @ 487-2247 ~ Space not reserved until payment received.
Students bring their own lunch Questions? Call Joan Chadde or Lloyd Wescoat at 487-3341

Lake Superior Day at Copper Harbor 2015

img_0099by Joan Chadde

The beauty and bounty of Lake Superior was celebrated Sunday July 26th at the Third Annual Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor. Community volunteers, along with the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, organized the festival with lots of special activities at the 6th Street Dock along the Copper Harbor Boardwalk. Activities included:

Community picnic ($5 donation suggested)
Canoe races and kayak demonstrations
Interactive art (paint the model freighter)
Remotely-Operated-Vehicle demonstrations by Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center
Presentation on the health of Lake Superior by Great Lakes scientist Martin Auer (CEE)

Live music, poetry and more
From 1-4 p.m. a special highlight is the opportunity for festival attendees to find out how scientists study the Great Lakes by taking a 40-minute scientific excursion aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel, Agassiz. The excursions are part of the Ride the Waves Program funded by a grant from General Motors. The Agassiz went out every 45 minutes from the Isle Royale Queen dock.

The Agassiz made seven trips for a total of 118 passengers with 82 adults and 36 youth. Participants from many places throughout Michigan and beyond, including a family from France taking the year to bike across North America.

Lake Superior Day is celebrated throughout the Lake Superior basin on or close to the third Sunday in July in many communities around Lake Superior.

Daily Mining Gazette Lake Superior Day

Channel 6 News Video Clip

Find out more:

Lake Superior Magazine

Lake Superior Day 2015
Lake Superior Day 2015
Lake Superior Day
Lake Superior Day
Lake Superior Day
Lake Superior Day

Scientific excursions aboard MTU’s research vessel Agassiz at Strawberry Festival


Nearly 100 community members went home on Saturday afternoon with a greatly enhanced understanding of Great Lakes science and were inspired to care for the lake. Several youth are super engaged now and want to learn more.

This was the 10th year at the Strawberry Festival, and the outreach program continues to reach new people locally and visitors to the area! 7 excursions went out on the Agassiz.

See Photo Gallery

Here are a few highlights from the evaluation responses:
“The Agassiz program is great as is; no improvement needed!”
“Fun & educational”
“New info they learned—many said plankton & bloodworms”
“Importance of good quality water”
“Share info with others, will teach my children & grandchildren, encourage them to take care of our water resources”
“This sounds like a type of job that I’d like to do when I’m older” (13 years old)
“How to save the Great Lakes ecosystem”
“Would like to learn more about interdependence & effects on other organisms”

The outreach program shows ‘How do scientists assess the health of Lake Superior’ as the focus of these free scientific excursions that were offered at the Strawberry Festival.

The public was invited to sign up for FREE 40-minute scientific excursions aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel Agassiz.

On each scientific excursion, a Dr. Marty Auer, an MTU Great Lakes scientist, demonstrated the use of sampling equipment to collect plankton and sediment, evaluate water clarity, temperature, and turbidity that tell us about the health of the lake, i.e. Chassell Bay. Participants saw the connection between land uses and the health of the Great Lakes.

Remotely-Operated-Vehicle (ROV) demonstrations were also be conducted from the Chassell Marina dock throughout the afternoon.

“Copper Country residents and visitors are encouraged to learn how scientists study the Great Lakes and what factors contribute to a healthy lake,” explains Joan Chadde, education program director. “These scientific excursions for the public have been offered at the Strawberry Festival since 2006 and have been extremely popular. Youth and adults enjoy the opportunity to interact with Great Lakes scientists and get their questions answered.”

The event is coordinated by the Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education and Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center. This year, the program is funded by the GM Ride the Waves Program putting more than 500 Copper Country youth and adults on the water each year to learn about the Great Lakes and promote STEM careers, along with support from the Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society, Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, and the Chassell Lions Club.

Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics & Environmental Education:
Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center
Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society
Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative





Keweenaw Geoheritage Tours

geoheri2The Keweenaw Peninsula is a place of natural beauty with a fascinating mining history. Join local expert Bill Rose in reading the landscape to learn how the Copper Country came to be the way it is today.

Each one-day field trip explores one of four major events in Earth’s history that make up the strong geoheritage of the Keweenaw: Lavas, the Keweenaw Fault, the Jacobsville Sandstone and Copper Mining Waste of Lake Superior. Participants can expect to cover a lot of ground and be outside all the time.

The trip dates are as follows:


July 27 – Lavas and the Keweenaw Rift
July 28 – The Keweenaw Fault
July 29th – Jacobsville Sandstone
July 30th – Copper Mining Waste of Lake Superior Today

Travel is a combination of van transport, short walks and trips aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel, the Agassiz. Trips are limited by boat capacity to 17 people. Each day trip costs $145 and includes lunch and snacks, boat and van transport.

For more information, trip descriptions and registration please visit the Keweenaw Geoheritage website. For specific questions, please email Erika Vye at

Investigate the Great Lakes at the Portage Lake District Library

The Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library hosted a special evening program for all ages on Monday, June 29, focused on the Great Lakes and what lives here. Participants began the program at the library where several activity stations were set up indoors and outside. Participants had the option to participate in a scientific excursion aboard the Agassiz research vessel, traveling from the library to the Great Lakes Research Center where they visited a laboratory to use microscopes in order to peer at the tiny organisms and examine a variety of fish.

Station Activities
Station 1: What Lives in a Stream? (all ages) – Children explore the diverse and sci-fi looking macroinvertebrate organisms that live in the stream and tell us if it’s a healthy stream. Outside at picnic table

Station 2: Fishing: Is it big enough to catch & keep? (all ages) – Did you know there are limits on the size of fish that you can catch and keep? Fish for trout, sturgeon, pike and other Great Lakes fish species—then identify them and check to be sure they’re “keepers”! Community Room

Station 3: Scientific Excursion on Agassiz (7 years & up, youth & adults) Board at dock west of the Library

Station 4: Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center Lab – Compare fish mouth adaptations, view cool plankton under microscopes, and put together a Lake Trout food chain.

Station 5: What Lives in the Great Lakes Watershed? – Use sidewalk chalk and draw life-size Great Lakes creatures that live in the lakes. Outside on sidewalk

Station 6: Sandy Beaches—Are They All the Same – Make a sand ID card and compare the color, texture, and size of the sand particles from different beaches on the Keweenaw Peninsula, around Michigan, and beyond! Bring in a sand sample from your favorite beach for comparison. Community Room

Station 7: Read a story about the Great Lakes – join a local author to read some special Great Lakes stories. Children’s Reading Corner

Station 8: Could a Fish or Frog Live in This Water? – Measure the pH (acidity) of different liquids and determine whether a fish or frog could survive. Community Room

Chris Alquist, librarian, observed, “Thanks so much for another great event! Every activity was interesting, and the kids were engaged and learning!”

More than 80 attended, there were four full Agassiz scientific cruises with 18 participants each.

Here are a few of the parents’ comments:
It was exciting to ride the Agassiz and we learned a lot (about plankton)! It was interesting for all of us! (2)
I like that there were many activities. I like the college students involved.
It gave my daughter a good feeling of going into a college lab.
Amazing creatures all around!
Great time! Everyone was helpful!!
Your programs are always extremely educational & fun!
Both my children had activities that suited them well—plankton, pH levels.

Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library presented "Investigate the Great Lakes"
Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library presented “Investigate the Great Lakes”

Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library presented "Investigate the Great Lakes"
Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Portage Lake District Library presented “Investigate the Great Lakes”

See more photos at the Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center Flickr Photo Gallery “Investigate the Great Lakes”

For more information, contact: Joan Chadde at 487-3341 at the Great Lakes Research Center or Chris Alquist at 482-4570 at the Portage Lake District Library. This program is funded by General Motors and the Portage Lake District Library.

Portage Library Flyer 06.29.15

Science and engineering camp at GLRC

Twelve Baraga county students are participating in a KBOCC STEM outreach-funded Great Lakes Science & Engineering Camp at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes research center coordinated by Joan Chadde at the Center for science & environmental Outreach. The KBOCC program provides free science and math enrichment opportunities to middle and high school students in Baraga county. During the school year the KBOCC department provides afterschool and Saturday workshops music, science, math, and engineering .


WLUC TV article and video “Science and engineering camp keeps brains fresh for summer break”

More Photos at Flickr Gallery

Detroit High School Students Visit Michigan Tech

CIMG58895-Day Trip to Visit Michigan Technological University for 20 Detroit High School Students: June 15-19, 2015

Monday June 15th started an adventure for 20 Detroit high school students who want to explore careers in natural resources, environmental science and engineering—forestry; wildlife; water quality; Great Lakes; environmental, civil and mechanical engineering, and more! Thanks to donations by numerous Michigan Tech departments and offices, students have FREE transportation, food, lodging and an exciting program!

Students had a full schedule while at Michigan Tech where they would identify trees, measure forest plots, inventory invasive earthworms, visit the underground rhizotron, participate in a 4-hour Great Lakes investigation aboard MTU’s Agassiz research vessel in Lake Superior, assess the health of local streams; manipulate underwater autonomous remotely operated vehicles, visit labs, conduct insect and wetland inventories, and explore nearby state and county parks to enjoy the beautiful Keweenaw and Upper Peninsula. Students experienced college life staying and eating at Wadsworth Residence Hall.

These twenty students successfully applied for this program (first of its kind) and were eager to visit Michigan Tech’s campus, explore future careers, and have new experiences. The students are in grades 9-12, and come from eight different Detroit high schools. Many people have helped to make this possible, from help with recruitment in Detroit, to the more than a eighteen experts volunteering their time to present to these youth.

The Program is coordinated by Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, in collaboration with Detroit colleagues at the Belle Isle Nature Zoo, Mike Reed, Curator of Education – Informal Programs, Detroit Zoological Society and U.S. Forest Service Urban Connections Program.

Generous funding from the following have made this program possible:
MTU School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science, Michigan Tech College of Engineering, Michigan Tech Housing & Residential Life, MTU Admissions, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Pre-College Outreach Initiative, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute, and the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

View a Michigan Tech Engineering Channel YouTube Video of “Detroit High School Students Visit Michigan Tech”

View Pictures posted on the College of Engineering Photo Gallery Flickr

See the WLUC TV 6 Television News article “Detroit students visit the Keweenaw at Michigan Tech University “

Daily Mining Gazette article “Tech Tour” (cannot be seen without subscription)

Michigan Tech Dean of Engineering Wayne Pennington has lunch with visiting students.
Michigan Tech Dean of Engineering Wayne Pennington has lunch with visiting students.