Education News

Wisconsin Teachers Trade Whiteboards for Whitecaps

Five Wisconsin teachers spent six days on Lake Superior this summer in the name of Great Lakes science literacy. The teachers joined 10 others as part of a Shipboard Science Workshop aboard the R/V Lake Guardian that departed from Duluth, Minn., in July.

The workshop, hosted by the Center for Great Lakes Literacy, was for fourth- through tenth-grade teachers and nonformal educators from the Great Lakes. The teachers worked with research scientists on projects; explored lake ecology, geology, geography, weather and water quality; and learned about resources they can use in their classrooms.

The teachers were Quan Banh, a high school teacher from Prentice, Wis.; Kathy Biernat, a middle school teacher from Elm Grove, Wis.; Lori Danz, a high school teacher from Superior, Wis.; Deanna Erickson, education coordinator for the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve in Superior; and Jacob Peterson, an elementary school teacher from Boyceville, Wis.

The teachers will be bringing their new knowledge back to their classrooms and school districts this fall. Here are two testimonials from some of the workshop applications:

“I grew up near the Atlantic Ocean and had little to no experience with lakes as a child,” said Biernat. “But I married a man from the Milwaukee area, spent my honeymoon on a lake in northern Wisconsin, and became a lake-lover. As a general science teacher for fifth- through eighth-grade students who live half an hour away from Lake Michigan, it is crucial for me to help students appreciate the Great Lakes.”

Biernat also plans to help other teachers through presentations at professional conferences.

Danz was looking forward to learning more about her “backyard.”

“Living on the shores of Lake Superior, I like to think I have a strong knowledge of our Great Lakes, especially Lake Superior. But every time I attend a professional development class related to the lakes, I discover there is much I do not know.”

She will be applying what she learns to the School District of Superior’s outdoor education curriculum to share her knowledge with other teachers.

The Shipboard Science Workshop is coordinated by the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great lakes National Program Office. Funding comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. For more information, visit:

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents