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More Than Just A Lake!

By creating a map of the rivers flowing into your Great Lake, learn how rivers form a watershed.

Objectives

  • Students will understand the defining role that rivers have in watershed activity
  • Students will be able to state whether they live inside or outside the drainage basin of their Great Lake
  • Older students will be able to identify the river drainage basin in which they live

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Your Great Lake!

How much water does each Great Lake hold? Use this lesson as a demonstration or a classroom lesson to create visual representations of the Great Lakes, Lake Baikal, and the relationships between surface area, retention time and pollution effects.

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Visualizing Climate Changes in the Great Lakes

In this activity, students examine information about how climate change will likely impact the Great Lakes of North America and assume that they are in a part of the region experiencing a water level decline of over two meters! They listen to [or read] a story in which they imagine that they have spent a lifetime visiting the Great Lakes. With their “memories” and their science information, they describe the changes they have noticed in the Lakes during their lifetime.

Objectives:

After completing this activity, students will be able to:
  • List and explain many potential impacts of climate change
  • Discuss various interpretations of the possible impacts of climate change

Alignment

National Framework for K-12 Science Education:
CC2: Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation
Core Idea ESS2: Earth’s systems
Core Idea ESS3: Earth and human activity

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Hurricane Bingo

Hurricane Bingo is a great game for grades 6 and up. Students will learn hurricane terms in a fun, fast atmosphere. The game can be played independently or in groups.

National Standards:

Grade Level 5-12

  • Science Content Standards 5-8:
    • Physical Science: Content Standard B; Motion and forces, Transfer of energy
    • Earth and Space Science: Content Standard D: Structure of the Earth System, Earth in the Solar System
    • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives: Content Standard F; Natural Hazards
  • Science Content Standards 9-12:
    • Science as Inquiry: Content Standard A; Understandings about scientific inquiry
    • Earth and Space Science: Content Standard D; Energy in the earth system
    • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives: Content Standard F: Natural and human hazards, Science and technology in local and global challenges
    • History and Nature of Science: Content Standard G: Science as a human endeavor, Nature of scientific knowledge

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Water Hyacinth Jeopardy

When learners have completed this activity, they should be able to discuss basic information about the water hyacinth. This information will include the origin, distribution, movement, consequences and solutions dealing with the water hyacinth

Geographic Standards:
Standard 14. How human actions modify the physical environment
Standard 15. How physical systems affect human systems
Standard 16. The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources

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Lake Effect Snow

The Great Lakes create unique weather patterns. One of those weather patterns is lake effect snow. Lake effect snowstorms occur in only three places in the world: the Great Lakes, the east shore of Hudson Bay and along the west coasts of the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. While people in the snow belt regions have learned to adapt, living near the lakes and experiencing lake effect snow still affects the economy and culture in significant ways. For example, winter sports like skiing and snowmobiling are major industries in some snow areas. This lesson explores how the Great Lakes influence lake effect snow, other factors that contribute to it and ways of reading weather conditions to forecast lake effect storms.

Objectives:

  • Describe the factors that create lake effect snow.
  • Describe how differences in lake and air temperature relate to lake effect snow.
  • Describe weather conditions associated with the movement of frontal boundaries across the Great Lakes region.
  • Describe how hills and highlands help form clouds and precipitation.
  • Describe how cities and industrial areas are related to lake effect snow.

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Invasive Species

Many non-native species live in the Great Lakes, and some of them are considered invasive. These species have established populations, multiplied rapidly and caused profound and lasting impacts on the Great Lakes ecosystem. Others (such as Asian carp) have caused serious ecological problems in other parts of the country and threaten to enter the Great Lakes. This lesson explores how invasive species have impacted the Great Lakes and how people can help prevent the spread of these unwanted species.

Objectives:

  • Name and visually recognize the primary aquatic invasive species of the Great Lakes.
  • Understand and analyze the negative impacts that invasive species have on the Great Lakes ecosystem.
  • Explain the ways in which non-native species are introduced into the Great Lakes.

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Habitat Restoration

The Detroit River and the St. Clair River do more than just connect the upper Great Lakes to the lower Great Lakes. While most people know the Detroit River and St. Clair River — referred to collectively as the Huron-Erie Corridor — as major commercial waterways used to support shipping and fishing. But this 32-mile connecting channel has another distinction: until the late 1800s, the corridor was an important spawning ground for lake sturgeon. Its fast-moving waters attracted thousands of the large, primitive fish every spring.

In the following decades, the number of lake sturgeon plummeted due to pollution, over-harvesting and loss of spawning habitat. The current population of lake sturgeon in Michigan is estimated to be about 1 percent of its former abundance. Organizations like Michigan Sea Grant and the U.S. Geological Survey are working to restore lake sturgeon and other native fish habitat in the waters of the Detroit River.

Objectives:

  • Describe the basic needs of fish.
  • Describe how humans have changed fish habitat in the Huron-Erie corridor.
  • Describe the ecosystem factors in the Huron-Erie corridor that can influence fish populations.
  • Design sturgeon habitat in the Huron-Erie corridor.

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Fish Identification

Each family of fishes in the Great Lakes region has physical traits that set it apart from others, called distinguishing characteristics. These characteristics help fish survive in their environment. By observing and comparing these features, students learn that fish, like other living organisms, can be organized and classified into meaningful groups for identification and further study.

Objectives:

  • Describe the physical characteristics (traits) of fish that help them survive in their environment.
  • Name several distinguishing characteristics of Great Lakes fish.
  • Describe how these characteristics help fish survive in their environment.
  • Organize Great Lakes fish (cards) based on similarities and differences.
  • Use a dichotomous key to identify 10 Great Lakes fish families.

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Exploring Watersheds

This lesson and activity focus on watersheds and how they operate. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a river system. As the water moves downward, it forms streams and rivers. The channeling and pooling of water is determined by the shape or topography of the land. Water continues to move downward, and rivers may join with lakes or other rivers as they head toward the ocean.

Objectives:

  • Describe the characteristics of a watershed and explain how water flows through a watershed.
  • Demonstrate scientific concepts using a model.
  • Share ideas about science through purposeful conversation in collaborative groups.
  • Evaluate data, claims and personal knowledge through collaborative science discourse.
  • Communicate and defend findings of observations using evidence.

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