Category: Outreach

Western UP Center Educational Programming

Joan Chadde
Joan Chadde

Local school districts tap Western UP Center for educational programming

HOUGHTON – Programs and events such as science nights, outdoor field trips, and etcetera, are just a very few examples of programs and activities available to schools all across the state of Michigan. In the western Upper Peninsula, they are made available through an organization called the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education.

Joan Chadde, program director of the Western U.P. center, said in addition to programs for students, they also offer programs and services to educators.

“Another thing we do is we offer a teacher professional development,” she said, “so we have this resource clearing house and then the school year workshops, summer institutes. So, we just had a workshop here on Tuesday. It was on recycling. So the teachers were learning how they can integrate recycling into their science and social studies curriculum.”

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Graham Jaehnig.

Center gets grants to provide school resources

HANCOCK – The Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education is a valuable resource to schools throughout the five western counties of the U.P. Those counties are Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, Ontonagon, and Gogebic.

All of the programs and resources offered to the schools are grant-funded, Opplinger said, requiring long days and many hours of requesting grants.

“These are 12-hour days, because we’re writing grants, and you’re lucky if you get 25 percent of them,” Chadde said.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Graham Jaehnig (subscription required).

Western UP Science Fair 2016

Western UP Science Fair and Festival 2016
Western UP Science Fair and Festival 2016

Western UP elementary school science fair coming to Houghton

HOUGHTON – The Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education has scheduled the 18th Annual Western U.P. Science Fair and Engineering Festival starting at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 17, at Michigan Tech’s Memorial Union Building.

For more information on the Western U.P. Science Fair, visit

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Graham Jaehnig.

Hancock Elementary School emphasizes science with fifth-grade showcase

HANCOCK – Hancock’s Barkell Elementary School recently held its annual Fifth Grade Science Night, which every year showcases that grade’s major science project for the year.

Lake Linden-Hubbell Elementary School fifth-grader Jared Hester and Michigan Technological University student Jackson Maslowski have a light saber-esque fight with Van de Graaff generators at the Western Upper Peninsula Science Fair March 17.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Graham Jaehnig (subscription required).

Students take part in Western U.P Science Fair and Festival

HOUGHTON — They’re 240 students are showing off their scientific abilities at Michigan Tech Thursday night, but they’re not Tech students.

Read more and watch the video at Upper Michigan’s Soruce, by Aleah Hordges.

March 17th- Western UP Science Fair

On Saint Patrick’s Day 2016, several members had the opportunity to spend time with elementary and middle school students at the Western UP Science Fair held at Michigan Tech. AEE members helped the students learn and understand alternative methods to lighting LEDs, other than using electricity from an outlet. Members were able to utilize several different experiments to illustrate the phenomena.

Read more and view the gallery at Alternative Energy Enterprise, by Jacob Nowicki.

Students Showcase Their Science Knowledge At Western U.P. Science Fair

Director for the Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education Shawn Oppliger says the projects show what these students are capable of.

Read more and listen to audio interviews at the Keweenaw Report.

Young U.P. minds develop science marvels of the future

Director for the Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education Shawn Oppliger said, “The projects really come from the kids because they’re interviewed by judges and that really helps us know what projects are done by the kids and what projects might be done by parents, and so they know they’re going to be interviewed, so they have to know a lot about their project and they have to conduct the project.”

Read more and watch the video at ABC 10 UP News, by Rick Allen.

Recycling and Waste Management Workshop for Teachers

Teacher Recycling WorkshopThe state of Michigan has an average recycling rate of 15% as the Western U.P stands at 5%–making it one of the lowest in the nation.

Local groups like the Copper Country Initiative Task Force are looking to mend that gap with the help of local school teachers.

“Hopefully those bags of trash are going to weigh less because students will now be using both sides of the piece of paper,” said workshop director, Joan Chadde. “Maybe they’ll actually be composing food waste out of the cafeteria.”

Read more and watch the video at Upper Michigan’s Source, by Aleah Hordges.

Chadde Presents on Designing a Sustainable Future

MSTA 2016Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and Lauri Davis, a Houghton High School science teacher presented, “Designing a Sustainable Future” at the Michigan Science Teachers Association Conference in Lansing, March 4-5, 2016.

Chadde also presented a Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support Water Quality Unit teacher workshop and Davis presented “Engaging Your Students in Authentic Science Research.”

From Tech Today.

After School Science Classes

After School Science
After School Science

The next session of after school sciences classes for elementary school children begins Thursday, March 17.

The sessions are from 4 to 5:30 p.m. the next six Thursdays at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center. The hands-on science explorations are taught by Michigan Tech science and engineering students and staff. The sessions are as follows:

  • Spring Nature Explorations, Grades 1 and 2—As the snow melts and the days lengthen, it’s time to investigate birds and spring migration, growing plants, frog life cycles and incredible insects that may bite us, but provide dinner for so many other organisms.
  • Physics of Motion, Grades 3 through 5—Explore motion in our world through investigations involving the principles of physics. Students will construct rockets, roller coaters, aqueducts and catapults to discover the relationship between energy and motion through engaging, hands-ons activities.

The cost is $75 per student. You can pay by credit card by calling the Michigan Tech Cashier at 7-2247 (Space is not reserved until your payment is received).

Register by tomorrow (March 16) online, or on the website of the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education.

Anyone with questions can email Joan Chadde or call 7-3341.

From Tech Today, by Joan Chadde.

Family Science & Engineering Night at Houghton Elementary School Tonight

Houghton Elementary School will be a hopping place tonight as kindergarten through fifth grade students and their families come together to have fun doing hands-on science and engineering activities presented by Michigan Tech students. The event will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

Each child and adult at Houghton Family Science & Engineering Night can attend two 40-minute hands-on activities. The activities will address a variety of scientific concepts, ranging from which chewing gum is the best to observing characteristics of various rocks and minerals. Students will also be challenged to determine which clear liquid is water and to design a launcher.

“Family science nights provide an opportunity for children and parents to learn together in a relaxed and fun environment,” explains Shawn Oppliger, director of the Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education. “Parents play an essential role in the success of their children at school. Parents who encourage the daily use of science and math concepts and skills, greatly enhance their child’s ability to grasp these challenging subject areas. Children are more likely to have a positive attitude about math and science if their parents do.

“The home-school connection is very important in education,” adds Oppliger. “Family Science & Engineering nights promote that connection by bringing families together at school to learn in a fun and challenging way and reinforce classroom learning.”

“The Michigan Tech students are providing a valuable community service by sharing their enthusiasm and expertise in science and engineering, ” explains Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach at Michigan Tech. “A program of this magnitude would not be possible without the partnership of the Copper Country Intermediate School District and Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education.”

“Presenting at family science night is fun and exciting. It is completely different from anything I have done,” comments forestry major Mary Wachuta. “Kids remember stuff that’s fun, so if they have fun doing science, they’ll remember the lessons.”

Tonight’s program is funded in part by the Houghton-Portage Twp. Schools. The family night program is conducted by the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, in partnership with the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education. The Center will conduct 12 family science, engineering and forest nights during the 2015-16 school year.

From Tech Today, by Joan Chadde.

Science, Engineering Challenges for Middle School Girls at Get WISE Workshop


More than 250 middle school students from across the western Upper Peninsula will spend the day exploring the excitement of science and engineering fields during the annual Get WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) event on Tuesday, February 23, 2016, at the Wood Gym in Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex. For more than 25 years, this event has brought seventh and eighth graders from 15 schools to campus for a day of hands-on activities, scientific challenges, talks with female role models and more.

“By having these girls spend the day solving science challenges in a fun atmosphere, we build their confidence and perhaps spark their interest,” said Liz Fujita, a coordinator at Michigan Tech’s Center for Pre-College Outreach (CPCO). “The girls are so creative in their solutions. We hope they will look at STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] with new eyes.”

One of this year’s activities will challenge them to build a simple water filter out of household materials. Another will have them creating a model heart valve to let marbles through one way, but not back the other way. “What’s fun about it is that there is more than one correct answer,” said Fujita. “That’s one thing we’re trying to show the students—that there’s rarely one ‘right’ solution to an engineering problem. It’s all about trying ideas out and improving on your previous attempts.”

The girls will also have opportunities to meet female role models enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs at Michigan Tech, as well as staff members from widely varying campus departments. The students will be able to hear stories about what shaped their career paths, and ask questions of these successful STEM women.

“Get WISE teaches my female middle school students to problem-solve, work as a team to accomplish challenges, and not be hesitant to share their thoughts and ideas,” says L’Anse science teacher Jen Martin. “Throughout the day I see them gain more and more confidence, and they bring that confidence back to school. Get WISE has a long-lasting effect on my students.”

Get WISE is hosted by the CPCO office in partnership with the College of Engineering, the College of Sciences and Arts, and the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Sciences, Mathematics and Environmental Education.

From Tech Today, by Jenn Donovan.

University encouraging women in science and engineering fields

Dollar Bay Middle School 7th Grader Molly Myllyoja said, “We filtered out water by using different materials like sand and gravel, felt coffee filters, and then we got to filter it so it turned to pure water instead of dirty water.”

Michigan Tech’s Center for Pre–College Outreach partners with the College of Engineering, the College of Sciences and Arts, and the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Sciences, Mathematics and Environmental Education to make the program possible

Read more at ABC 10 UP News, by Rick Allen.

WJMN-TV Channel 3 and WBUP-TV Channel 10 broadcast stories about the Get WISE program that brought 250 middle-school girls to Michigan Tech for a day of hands-on science and engineering. Get WISE stands for Get Women in Science and Engineering.

From Tech Today.

BASIC – Building Adult Skills in Computing

Back to BASICs: Computer help group has new name, same drive to help build skills

HOUGHTON?- It’s an hour before the Portage Lake District Library opens, but if you enter through the side door, you’ll see a group of Tech students and community members already hard at work. They bow over smartphones, tablets and laptops, deep in conversation. They’re here to teach, and to learn.

This is BASIC (Building Adult Skills in Computing), formerly known as Online at the Library. The group meets on Saturday mornings while Tech is in session.

Though its name has changed, the group’s mission has remained the same – to help answer questions for, and teach computing skills to, community members.

Another faculty member helping out Jan. 23 was Kelly Steelman, an assistant professor in Tech’s department of cognitive and learning sciences.

She’s been working with the program for a year, but she didn’t originally intend to become a tutor. Instead, she entered her first session hoping to gain insight on where to take Tech’s program, and see if there were technologies that could be developed to help older adults interact with technology, or to help the student tutors help others.

“I’m really interested in how people use technology, how they pay attention, and how we can get them to find the things that they’re trying to find and design technology in such a way that people aren’t getting lost,” she said.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Meghan Marquardt. (Subscription required.)

Houghton County Cardboard Recycling Kickoff and Celebration

The Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach is among the organizers of a celebration to open the Houghton County Cardboard Recycling Facility.

The celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, January 16, 2016, at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.

There’ll be hands-on activities for kids, including making paper, garbage pizzas, recycling machine, cardboard forts, lunch safari and more.

A display and information on the cardboard recycling facility, upcoming plans for how to improve curbside recycling in Houghton County and information on how you can get involved will be available.

Bring your cardboard to the Portage Lake District Library during the celebration and it will be transported to the new Cardboard Recycling Facility in Atlantic Mine.

From Tech Today.

After School Science & Engineering class for Gr. 6-8

An  after school science and engineering class taught by Michigan Tech Innovation Fellows who are nationally-trained facilitators is available for students in grades 6-8.

“Discover Your Creative Confidence & Inner Maker” will be taught from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays from Jan 14 to Feb 18, in a mobile makerspace at the Great Lakes Research Center.

 This class will introduce students to:

  • design thinking
  • creativity
  • innovation

The course will prepare students for a variety of future paths, whether that involves capitalizing on a big idea or implementing entrepreneurship. Action-filled problem solving! Students put ideas into action using a variety of materials.  Tinker, dream, invent!

The cost: $75/student and you must register by Jan. 6. Pay by credit card by calling the cashiers office 7‐2247. (Space is not reserved until payment has been received.) Register online

Any questions? Email Joan Chadde or call 7‐3341.

Note: Houghton school bus will drop off students at the GLRC by 3:45 pm

From Tech Today, by Joan Chadde.