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.
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
MORNING -ONLY Sessions
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.
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