A great way to study the Great Lakes: onboard a floating classroom

These fourth-graders went right to the source to study Lake Michigan waters aboard the W.G. Jackson research vessel in Muskegon (courtesy photo)

If you’re going to study Great Lakes water quality and aquatic life forms, what better way than onboard a ship on Lake Michigan? No better way as far as a class of Lakes Elementary fourth-graders are concerned. They took a trip to the W.G. Jackson research vessel in Muskegon, a floating classroom and research lab maintained by the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University.

Teacher Amanda Glass’ fourth-graders spent half a day studying pH levels in the water, identifying creatures in sediment, and learning about invasive species, Michigan watersheds and background pollution. They peered at water samples through a microscope to identify zooplankton and other organisms.

“The students were able to fully immerse themselves into being a scientist for our Great Lakes,” Glass said. “They were engaged in completing hands-on experiments through the scientific process.”

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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