“Cruising” on Lake Erie: July 8-14, 2019

July 4, 2019

Cruising to many people is the ultimate relaxing vacation.  It brings to mind lounging on the top deck, poolside, basking in the sun, sipping a nice cold beverage.  On the contrary, for the 15 science educators ready to embark upon a journey of a lifetime, relaxing is the last word that comes to mind.  Science educators from across the Great Lakes region are in the process of preparing to set sail for 7 days aboard the Lake Guardian on Lake Erie.  Participants are busy packing their tiny duffle bags and anticipating a week full of adventure, research, obstacles, and teamwork as they prepare to work alongside scientists to study harmful algal blooms and microplastics in Lake Erie.

Participants for this upcoming week come from a variety of educational backgrounds.  Some are traditional teachers and others are informal educators from around the Great Lakes region, from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.  Each day, participants will post a daily blog, a collaborative effort that summarizes the essence of the encounters, lessons, and adventures from the day.

Throughout the week, we will be working around the clock, collecting macroinvertebrates, water samples, and data alongside Dr. George Bullerjahn, a biology professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin Superior, and Ben Alsip from the US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office.  Additionally, our workshop will be led by two outstanding teachers from Ohio, Lyndsey Manzo, Ohio Sea Grant Education Specialist, and Westerville City Schools Science Curriculum Specialist, and Angela Greene, Ohio Sea Grant Education Specialist and Tecumseh Local Schools Technology Teacher for 4th and 5th Grade and the Professional Learning Facilitator for district staff.

Thoughts from Shari . . . 

As a native Clevelander, baseball has been an integral part of my life. Watching the Cleveland Indians “play ball” alongside my family while eating many favorite ballpark treats, from hot dogs with famous Cleveland Ballpark Mustard to popcorn, perogies, pizza, and nachos elicit many great memories.  Outside of the ballpark, and on the big screen are some great baseball films. Aside from Major League, Moneyball is another great baseball film.  In the film, Jeremy Brown, a 240-pound catcher, is up to bat.  He’s scared to run to second base but he hits the ball hard toward center field and he goes for it.  As he’s rounding first, he falls and scrambles back to first base. Once he touches first, he looks up and sees the 1st base coach and 1st baseman yelling at him to go to second.  Brown is confused and didn’t realize that he just hit a home run.

Like Brown, I am scared to round first.  First base is comfortable for me. It means I have a safe leisurely summer to take naps, go to the zoo, play in the pool with my kids, go for walks with my husband, and workout when I feel like it.  Second base pushes me out of my comfort zone—on The Lake Guardian for seven days. I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never done anything like this before. What if I get seasick? What if I get lost?  What if I do something wrong with the equipment and ruin the entire research study?

Reflecting back on the metaphor in the movie, I need to remember that I’m not meant to stay at 1st base.  With the help and encouragement from family and friends, I need to stop retreating back to 1st base where I feel safe.  I don’t need to stay home and relax this summer.  I was meant for more—more adventure, more discovery, more learning, more friendships.  I need to stop hiding and overcome my fears, dust myself off from 1st base and begin my adventure and allow myself to explore new depths.

So maybe you round first and maybe you fall.  As long as you keep retreating, you can’t move forward and explore all that there is in store for you.  But during these 7 days aboard the Lake Guardian, people are with you to hoist you up, dust (or dry) you off, and encourage you as you return home.  We’re not meant for 1st base, we’ve got research to conduct and friendships to make!  So get packing and let your journey begin on the Lake Guardian

-Shari Insley