Students Ask Scientists: Video Chats

Your students could be at the other end of this video call! Researcher holds up tablet onboard ship while filming video call with students.

Photo attribution: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

What are Students Ask Scientists (SAS) video chats?

SAS video calls connect 5th grade through 12th grade classrooms across the Great Lakes region with scientists from a range of agencies and academic institutions.

How do I schedule one for my students?

Simply fill out this form:  Educator signup form. Requests will be accommodated as participating scientists’ availability allows.


Keep reading to learn more about SAS!


What can I expect from a SAS video call?

The SAS program allows teachers to provide their students (grades 5-12) an opportunity to talk with real scientists to improve their understanding of the Great Lakes and gain insight into what a career in science entails. Whether it’s a question and answer session from a scientist’s office or a live tour of the research vessel Lake Guardian while scientists call students from onboard the ship, students can see firsthand how topics they’re learning in the classroom are actually applied out in the field. Calls are arranged by CGLL representatives and offer students an opportunity to learn about current research projects and scientific processes being used to monitor and protect the Great Lakes, and, of course, to ask scientists all their burning questions about the Great Lakes and what a career in science looks like.

Call format:

Photo attribution: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Lab/Office Calls (year-round)

Scientists call into classrooms to discuss Great Lakes issues and current research efforts. The format of these calls can be either of the following:

  • A student-driven Q & A session, or
  • A brief presentation from scientists on relevant Great Lakes topics chosen by the teacher, with time for questions and discussion after the presentation.

SAS lab/office calls are arranged based on the availability of scientists who match with teacher-chosen topics and grade level. Due to the limited number of slots available, calls are arranged on a first-come-first-served basis. These interactions can be arranged using most video conferencing platforms (Zoom, Google Meets, etc.) to meet the needs of the school, and typically last 30-60 minutes. If you are interested in arranging a Students Ask Scientists lab/office call for your class, fill out the educator signup form to identify a scientist that best meets your classroom’s needs.

Shipboard Calls (April, May, & September)

Photo attribution: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Scientists on the US EPA’s R/V Lake Guardian give students a virtual tour of the ship while underway on a research cruise—talking about the current mission, showing off sampling equipment and safety gear, visiting onboard labs and living spaces, and stopping to chat with other scientists and ship crew about living and working on a research vessel.

SAS ship tour video calls occur as the vessel sampling schedule allows and are typically reserved for CGLL Shipboard Science Workshop alum, but other educators will be accommodated if possible. These calls are scheduled and hosted by IISG staff using Zoom, and last approximately 45-60 minutes. If you are interested in arranging a Students Ask Scientists shipboard call for your class, fill out the educator signup form.


Have more questions?


Please contact your local Sea Grant Center for Great Lakes Literacy representative:

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant: Allison Neubauer at 217-244-9920/[email protected]

Michigan Sea Grant: Meaghan Gass at 618-567-4193/[email protected]

Minnesota Sea Grant: Marte Kitson at 218-726-8305/[email protected]

Wisconsin Sea Grant: Anne Moser at 608-262-3069/[email protected]


This program is hosted by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.

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