See Teachers’ Lake Ontario Learning Exploration Experiences on Blog

Rice Creek Field Station Director Lucina Hernandez tells the Lake Ontario Exploration teachers' tour about the local natural resources.
Rice Creek Field Station Director Lucina Hernandez tells the Lake Ontario Exploration teachers' tour about the local natural resources.

Lake Ontario/NY — To see 4th-10th grade educators from New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania enjoying fabulous hands-on “teach the teachers” opportunities on the week-long Lake Ontario Exploration tour organized by New York Sea Grant and the Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence Great Lakes with sponsorship by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, go online to the blog at

New York Sea Grant Web Content Manager and Northeast Sea Grant Communications Representative Paul Focazio created the lively showcase of photographs and activities experienced by the fifteen (15) teachers visiting sites in Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Rochester, and Oswego, including universities, field stations, an aquarium, a bathysphere biological lab, the Eastern Lake Ontario dunes system, a fish hatchery, and a maritime museum.

Award-winning New York Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialist Helen Domske introduced the teachers to geologists, researchers, US Fish and Wildlife biologists, representatives of the Tuscarora Nation Haudenosaunee Environmental Management Council, and New York Sea Grant educators teaching on geospatial mapping and aquatic invasive species. The teachers also had time to create classroom lesson plans based on their experiences.

The teachers heard from three New York Sea Grant (NYSG)-funded researchers:

· Buffalo State College Biologist Dr. Randal J. Snyder is the project leader for a two-year, $139K New York Sea Grant “Understanding alewives lives improves salmon fishery management” project designed to improve understanding and accurate forecasting of the condition and growth of alewives, an important component of the Great Lakes food web. Dr. Snyder is evaluating how lake temperature, ration size and prey composition influence alewife growth and condition. Given the dramatic changes occurring in the Great Lakes food webs, development of accurate measures of alewife condition and growth will improve fisheries managers’ ability to optimize salmonine stocking rates, forecast how changes in food webs or abiotic factors will affect alewife populations, and better predict the impact of alewives on their prey populations.

· SUNY College at Buffalo Biologist Dr. Christopher M. Pennuto is the project leader for “Assessing Barriers to Round Goby Invasion of Great Lake Tributary Streams,” the two-year, $101K New York Sea Grant project that wrapped up late last year. The exotic round goby has had a significant impact in the Great Lakes and is expanding its range. There is concern over its ecological impact to tributary streams and how readily the goby will expand upstream. “Our assessment of round goby swimming performance should enable us to collaborate with engineers in developing fish passage designs,” says Pennuto.

· University at Buffalo investigator Joseph F. Atkinson’s project on the Development of Resource Sheds in the Great Lakes, other Aquatic Ecosystems was a two-year, $136K New York Sea Grant project completed late last year. Atkinson and his team created a web-based tool that allows users to plot a resource shed for Lake Ontario or Lake Erie at any location of interest. After undergoing testing off-and-on for about a year, Atkinson says, “this tool will be able to plot resource sheds not only for the long-term average hydrodynamic conditions originally proposed but also for a set of historic conditions, for years since about 2000.” His team’s findings were published earlier this year in an Environmental Science and Technology journal article. He adds, “Our goal was to develop the concept of resource sheds to help scientists and managers better understand the large scale physical processes that are the forcing factors that underlie many important Great Lakes issues, such as hypoxic zones, contamination spread, population declines and disease outbreaks.

Teacher Kristin Sheehan of Pulaski, NY, summed up the experience by saying, “It solidifies the idea that the best kinds of learning are hands-on.”

For more information, contact New York Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialist Helen Domske at 631-632-6956.