Since 2008, the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) has brought together schools and community partners in a 5-county area of the western Upper Peninsula to prepare K-12 students to become knowledgeable citizens concerned about the Lake Superior watershed and actively engaged in stewardship projects in their community. A partnership between Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD), LSSI has provided place-based professional learning opportunities for teachers. This summer, a 2021 NOAA B-WET grant awarded to the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, in partnership with the Western UP MiSTEM Network and others, afforded meaningful watershed educational experiences for K-12 teachers at schools in the western Upper Peninsula.
In July, two outdoor professional learning experiences for teachers – a K-8 Project Learning Tree Workshop and Assessing Forest Health (for middle and high school educators) –provided participants with hands-on, interdisciplinary activities and resources for learning about ecosystems, food webs, invasive species, soils, water cycle, tree physiology, and environmental impacts.
Another July event provided an opportunity for teachers and community partners to participate in a scientific excursion aboard the Inland Seas schooner, to explore the geoheritage of the Keweenaw Waterway. The exploration focused on significant natural and anthropogenic features of the waterway while sailing to the Jacobsville sandstone cliffs at the South Entry. Another local partner, the Regional Education Media Center, provided instruction on how to record place-based experiences using 360° cameras and images. Participants also received training on how to use photos and information from the schooner trip to create virtual tours through RoundMe. These virtual tours will be shared with classes during the school year and become models for future geo-investigations created by students.
In August, teachers and community partners participated in a workshop to gain strategies and lessons for integrating gardening into their curriculum led by expert teachers and extension educators.
The Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) is part of the statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI). Over the past 15 years, many Michigan Tech faculty and students in CEGE, as well as, other departments and colleges at MTU, have provided expertise, conducted professional learning, made classroom presentations, and provided resources that have helped school-community teams to accomplish their stewardship projects and contributed greatly to LSSI’s success.
By Lloyd Wescoat, K-12 Educator, Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach