David Johnson

Home state: Minnesota
Why do you think it's important to infuse Great Lakes topics in education?

Water is essential for life. It is what you search for on other planets to answer the question: “Are the conditions on this planet, conducive for life as we know it?” We are fortunate to have this essential molecule, fresh and in great abundance right out our “door”. We as educators need to seize the opportunity to teach about the Great Lakes every time it presents itself.

Describe one of your favorite classroom experiences/activities associated with the Great Lakes.

We are fortunate to have Brewery Creek run through our campus. Once or twice a week the 6th graders walk down to our water testing station and test for turbidity, stream velocity, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity and a few other parameters. During the school year we also take time to walk the creek bed, ski along the shore of the creek, clean trash from the banks and sometimes-just play in the creek. My goal is that the students will love the creek and be inspired to “adopt” a creek near their home to care for.

What teaching methods do you use to engage students in Great Lakes activities?

Stream analysis, testing, lab work, lecture, individual research, projects and more.

If relevant, share some examples of how you involved scientist(s) in your teaching.

We use the local water scientists as a resource for any questions or concerns that we might have. Most recently we reached out to a scientist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute for help identifying some very small invertebrates that we discovered while looking for a type of invertebrate, called a tardigrade, in a water sample.

Please share some interesting student reflections on ways they have developed a stewardship ethic. Include how they inspired others to make a difference to improve the health of the Great Lakes watershed.

Last year we held our first Brewery Creek Watershed Summit. Students researched a topic related to Brewery Creek and developed a poster and a short presentation. We then invited residents of the Brewery Creek watershed into our school to learn more about how to care for the creek that we share. The students took this task on wholeheartedly and developed powerful learning experiences for all attendees.