The Parks Climate Challenge program uses national parks as classrooms to educate students about climate change. A Parks Climate Challenge grant will fund the second annual “Changing Climate…Changing Cultures” teacher workshop at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center July 15-18, 2013. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore worked with the University of Wisconsin – Extension, the Friends of the Center Alliance, Ltd., and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, to develop a curriculum and teacher training that highlights the effects of climate change on Great Lakes’ natural and cultural resources through exploring the inter-relationship between the Ojibwe culture and the Lake Superior environment. Twenty-five teachers participated in last summer’s inaugural workshop that included trips to the Kakagon Slough on the Bad River Reservation and Stockton Island in the national lakeshore. By providing teachers the platform, information and tools to develop hands-on service projects, they in turn create dynamic lessons for their students incorporating national park experiences both within and outside the boundaries of the national lakeshore.
A Park Stewards grant from the National Park Foundation in 2011 led to establishment of the Apostle Islands Experiential Learning Partnership (APISELP) between Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the Bayfield (Wisconsin) Public School. The grant was renewed to fund the third year of the APISELP in 2013. During the first two years of the APISELP, students of Bayfield High School completed three successful independent research projects, developed a science demonstration program which teaches about the physics of lighthouses, and initiated a project in which students learn about and participate in trail development and maintenance in the park.
In the research component of APISELP, three Bayfield High School students conducted independent research projects within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The students wrote research papers, prepared presentations, and participated in regional and national science competitions. The research projects included a study of organic and inorganic contaminants found in eaglet blood, a measurement of the geophysical behavior of Lake Superior waters within the Apostle Islands, and an analysis of stable isotopes in fish within the waters of the Apostle Islands. Bayfield teacher Rick Erickson and his physics students developed a successful cross-age mentoring program to teach about the physics of lighthouses. The students developed a traveling trunk with the equipment necessary to present the program to more than 250 elementary students in February 2012. In April 2013, Mr. Erickson conducted a teacher workshop to show other teachers how to use the hands-on activities in the kit to teach students about the physics of lighthouse lenses. The workshop also trained teachers in the use of Lake Superior place-based lessons designed through student research.
In May 2012 and 2013, Mr. Erickson coordinated a variety of service learning projects in the park. Funds from the National Park Foundation grant were used to purchase materials, and more than 40 students built boardwalk on the park’s Lakeshore Trail, cleared debris from other trails in the park, and built a shelter for the fee station at Meyers Beach. In September 2011 and 2012, Mr. Erickson brought a total of more than 60 students and teachers to the Raspberry Island lighthouse to tour the light, clean out the vegetable garden, and install storm windows on the lighthouse keepers’ quarters.
“We are excited about these programs because they allow us to enhance our partnership with the Bayfield School as well as other schools across the state,” said Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “As a result of the personal engagement and service learning projects facilitated by these National Park Foundation grants, students are developing a deeper connection and sense of stewardship for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.”
This article appears in the 2013 Apostle Islands National Lakeshore newspaper: Around the Archipelago