Great Lakes Education: Post 6

July 26, 2013

Great Lakes Education Workshop

FT Stone Laboratory
Gibralter Island, Lake Erie, Ohio State University
July 21-27, 2013

One Person Can Make a Difference!


The Laboratory on Gibralter Island Photo credit: Angela Greene

“One person can make a difference,” Dr. Fortner said as she recalled how a group of people wrote to Dr. Seuss about changing a line in The Lorax.  The line read “…I hear that things are just as dreary up in Lake Erie”.  Dr. Fortner and her group of graduate students felt that the line gave Lake Erie a bad name, and didn’t take into account the amazing efforts on the part of people who were making a concerted effort to clean up the lake.  Our teacher found a copy of the letter that Dr. Seuss wrote in response, in which he said he would take the line out of future printings of the book.  It is amazing to know that this popular children’s book has been changed for generations to come because of the efforts of a group of concerned individuals.


One person making a difference… Dr. Rosanne Fortner Photo credit: Min Keung

Next, our class explored the great mystery of the “Great Lakes Triangle”.  The case could be made that there were more wrecks in the Great Lakes than in the Bermuda Triangle!  Our mystery question was “What happened aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald?”  We split into three groups to test three different hypotheses.  The first group investigated whether the boat’s design was to blame.  The second group checked for weather conditions within a six hour time frame of the wreck.  The third group looked at the bathymetry of the water.  When all groups reported back, we decided that there wasn’t just one reason for the wreck, but a multitude of reasons ranging from a change in winds, human error and the change in the bathymetry of the lake where the ship may have run off course.

The rest of the afternoon was “history” day on South Bass Island.  We visited Perry’s monument, where we learned that women dressed as men to battle with the British alongside their American men in the battle of Lake Erie, during the war of 1812.  Our Park Ranger left us with some very wise words:  “Pick and choose your battles and don’t give up the ship.”


Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial Photo credit: Min Keung

We visited glacial grooves at the South Bass Island State Park and measured the angle of the grooves to compare to previous “groove sites” we visited all around the islands in Lake Erie. All the glacial groove sites had a similar cardinal direction with the exception of the grooves on Gibralter Island.  It is believed that a tributary affected the path of least resistance in front of the glacier causing the Gibralter grooves to be orientated differently by about ninety degrees.

This week has been a rewarding challenge to all of us.  Even though the time has been short, it has been valuable.   We are grateful for this opportunity and wish everyone well as we start to pack up for our return trips home. This has been a journey of a lifetime, and one we’ll never forget. Thank you all.  Carrie and Min


Gibralter Island Photo Credit: Angela Greene