Sally Goodman

Home state: Minnesota
Organization or Facility: Marshall School
Grade(s): 8th, 9th, 10th
Subject(s): Earth Science, Biology
Why do you think it's important to infuse Great Lakes topics in education?

The Great Lakes give life to and support the health of many ecosystems, including human communities. It is both a joy and an important charge to help steward the gifts of our Great Lakes.

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

It is an adventure every time we go down to Brewery Creek on our campus. Without fail, we discover something, learn a bit more, become more connected to the land, water and each other. From a frog swimming under creek ice in November, to a noticeable change in periphyton algae growth, or the flushing of a grouse, the discovery of a wren nest, or the shock of a rubber boot full of creek water (!), the new growth of ferns, a flock of robins devouring mountain ash berries, or a wild surge of water after a large rainfall– a trip to the Creek always includes a surprise and a discovery.

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

We regularly collect quantitative and qualitative data on our stream that leads to Lake Superior and also from the surrounding ecosystem. I love that as a school of scientists, we can collaborate with other classes and grades
to understand the bigger picture of our ecosystem and watershed. We are really conducting some LTER (long term ecological research) right here at school and across the school experience. You might learn something in 6th grade that informs your work in 9th grade. And 9th graders might also need the data and work of 6th or 8th graders to help interpret the data they have collected.

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

Minnesota Sea Grant Scientists have helped us build turbidity tubes, identify plant and animal species with BioBlitz projects and tools, and understand our Lake Superior ecosystem through PIE (partners in education) lessons.
We have collaborated with UMD (Univ. of MN Duluth) scientists to help us understand local issues, like SARS-CoV-2 and water, and interpret some of our Creek study results.

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.

As my Dad always said, “If you spend enough time in the woods, you will see something!” When students have regular opportunities to get outside in the woods, on the trails, and down by the creek to explore and collect data, they indeed see and experience many things which leads them to grow in curiosity, connection, and care for this place and ecosystem of which they are part. Pulling invasive buckthorn, seeing a red bellied snake or marsh marigold for the first time, or recognizing a quantitative change in creek turbidity can each lead students to understand and care more about this place. When they learn to collect data and interpret and understand the stories that the data tell, they can also help guide decisions to steward this important watershed.

Contact Sally Goodman: [email protected]