Curriculum Filter Results

Who Can Harvest a Walleye?

The Great Lakes are an example of a natural community. In this community the small organisms (living things) outnumber the large organisms. The smaller organisms may be eaten by the larger ones.In this activity, students will count all the organisms of one kind, then count all the things they eat and all the things that eat them, creating pyramid of numbers that will also show who eats what.

Objectives:

When you have completed this investigation you should be able to:

  • Apply the meaning of the following terms as they relate to a biomass pyramid: producer, herbivore, first-order carnivore, second-order carnivore.
  • Calculate the relative number of kilograms at each level of the biomass pyramid in a given environment.
  • Analyze how different conditions in the environment affect the pyramid

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How Big is a Crowd?

The Great Lakes and the surrounding land provide many resources for the people who live in the area. Water for drinking and industry, fish for food, minerals, and other resources are abundant. However, people change the landscape. They create wastes and add chemicals to the environment when they use resources, and these can be harmful. When many people are concentrated in one area, they may compete for resources. In addition, the wastes these people generate tend to concentrate in the area immediately around them and may cause pollution problems.

Objectives

When students have completed this activity, they will be able to:

  • Compare the relative sizes of the five Great Lakes and their human populations.
  • Describe some of the problems that arise when many people depend on a limited resource.

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Ojibwe – Early Immigrants to the Great Lakes Region

Most history books say Europeans “discovered” North America as if it had no history before then. As a result, students know little about the American Indians who settled here long before the Europeans came. This activity introduces students to one tribe of early Great Lakes settlers, the Ojibway (Chippewa), who began to migrate from what would later become New Brunswick and Maine in 900 A.D.

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Water Hyacinth Jeopardy

When learners have completed this activity, they should be able to discuss basic information about the water hyacinth. This information will include the origin, distribution, movement, consequences and solutions dealing with the water hyacinth

Geographic Standards:
Standard 14. How human actions modify the physical environment
Standard 15. How physical systems affect human systems
Standard 16. The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources

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Invasive Species

Many non-native species live in the Great Lakes, and some of them are considered invasive. These species have established populations, multiplied rapidly and caused profound and lasting impacts on the Great Lakes ecosystem. Others (such as Asian carp) have caused serious ecological problems in other parts of the country and threaten to enter the Great Lakes. This lesson explores how invasive species have impacted the Great Lakes and how people can help prevent the spread of these unwanted species.

Objectives:

  • Name and visually recognize the primary aquatic invasive species of the Great Lakes.
  • Understand and analyze the negative impacts that invasive species have on the Great Lakes ecosystem.
  • Explain the ways in which non-native species are introduced into the Great Lakes.

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Habitat Restoration

The Detroit River and the St. Clair River do more than just connect the upper Great Lakes to the lower Great Lakes. While most people know the Detroit River and St. Clair River — referred to collectively as the Huron-Erie Corridor — as major commercial waterways used to support shipping and fishing. But this 32-mile connecting channel has another distinction: until the late 1800s, the corridor was an important spawning ground for lake sturgeon. Its fast-moving waters attracted thousands of the large, primitive fish every spring.

In the following decades, the number of lake sturgeon plummeted due to pollution, over-harvesting and loss of spawning habitat. The current population of lake sturgeon in Michigan is estimated to be about 1 percent of its former abundance. Organizations like Michigan Sea Grant and the U.S. Geological Survey are working to restore lake sturgeon and other native fish habitat in the waters of the Detroit River.

Objectives:

  • Describe the basic needs of fish.
  • Describe how humans have changed fish habitat in the Huron-Erie corridor.
  • Describe the ecosystem factors in the Huron-Erie corridor that can influence fish populations.
  • Design sturgeon habitat in the Huron-Erie corridor.

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Exploring Watersheds

This lesson and activity focus on watersheds and how they operate. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a river system. As the water moves downward, it forms streams and rivers. The channeling and pooling of water is determined by the shape or topography of the land. Water continues to move downward, and rivers may join with lakes or other rivers as they head toward the ocean.

Objectives:

  • Describe the characteristics of a watershed and explain how water flows through a watershed.
  • Demonstrate scientific concepts using a model.
  • Share ideas about science through purposeful conversation in collaborative groups.
  • Evaluate data, claims and personal knowledge through collaborative science discourse.
  • Communicate and defend findings of observations using evidence.

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Dead Zones

Some eutrophic lakes (and coastal regions of the ocean) may develop what is referred to as dead zones in the summer. Dead Zones are areas without enough dissolved oxygen to support fish or zooplankton. Lake Erie is especially prone to developing dead zones. This lesson explores what contributes to dead zones, how it can affect the life in a lake and where and how to spot one using data clues.

Objectives:

  • Explain why and how dead zones affect aquatic organisms.
  • Describe how human activities may contribute to the creation of dead zones.
  • Use graphs to investigate the size and location of the dead zone in Lake Erie.
  • Communicate conclusions about the size and location of the dead zones using evidence.

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Dangerous Currents: Don’t Get Swept Away

It was the day after Christmas 2010. Dave Benjamin, a Great Lakes surfer, was winter surfing on Lake Michigan with some friends when he got into trouble. The leash to his surfboard failed, and he was out in the water, getting hit by wave after wave and was caught in a current. Water had breached his wetsuit. He was losing energy.

“I have been swimming in Lake Michigan all of my life,” said Benjamin. “All of that experience went out the window when panic set in. I came to a point where I was writing myself off. I came to the resolution that I’m not going home today.”

This lesson explores dangerous currents, including rip currents that commonly occur throughout the Great Lakes.

Objectives:

  • Learn about the different types of dangerous currents and where they occur.
  • Understand who is most at risk.
  • Analyze data about rescues and deaths related to dangerous currents.
  • Explain actions that will help prevent drowning.

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Healthy Beaches, Healthy Lakes

Healthy coastal areas are of course important to fish and wildlife, but they are also vital to the quality of life in and the economy throughout the Great Lakes basin. For most people, the beach is a place for relaxing, making memories or connecting with nature. However, Great Lakes beaches, streams and rivers are threatened by pollution, contamination and a changing climate. This lesson explores threats to Great Lakes beaches like bacterial contamination, pathogens and harmful algal blooms as well as stewardship efforts like beach cleanup programs that help keep beaches safe and healthy. While humans often play a role in contributing to beach contamination, people work equally as hard to maintain and improve water quality.

Objectives:

  • Describe different sources of beach contamination.
  • Develop a hypothesis about the increase of beach closures.
  • Discuss several ways people can help protect beaches and water quality.

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