When we boarded the Lake Guardian seven days ago we were excited but scared at the same time. The 14 teachers boarding the ship had never met before, and had no idea what to expect. What will it be like to live and work in a place that we have never experienced? Will I be able to get along with the others and make friends? How will we accomplish such an important goal with people I don’t know? As adults it is not often that we are placed in a situation like this one… but our students are in the situation at the beginning of every school year. We expect them to live and learn with other students they may not know very well, or at all. The experiences that we’ve had on the Lake Guardian this week have definitely given us a look through our student’s eyes.
This week on the Lake Guardian, we had numerous opportunities to learn about the science of Lake Ontario. We learned how to use both high and low-tech tools to gather samples of water, organisms, and sediment from the lake. In the lab we learned how to filter, sort, identify, and package the samples so they can be sent off to be analyzed without contamination. Helen Domske, Coastal Educator Specialist from New York Sea Grant, arranged many opportunities for us to meet with Scientists and Specialists. The scientists that we met shared information about the unique challenges that the ecosystems in and around Lake Ontario face, and how the challenges are being met.
Equally as important, we also learned how to work and collaborate with a group of strangers. We were given tasks that were new to us, and we had to complete them with other teachers we did not know. We persevered, and as we leave the ship for the last time, we are not leaving as strangers, but life long friends.
The Lake Guardian Teacher Cruise gave us the tools and resources to teach about the Great Lakes. Participating on this trip will allow us to go back to our schools and educate the next generation of lake guardians.
Written By Jeremy Traverse and Zachary Rozmiarek