What is the Great Lakes Education Program?

The program introduces students to the unique features of the Great Lakes through a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experience. It is designed to stimulate interest in the Great Lakes and help students understand their role in protecting these vital freshwater resources.

Three Components

  • Classroom introduction to Great Lakes. Students learn about concepts such as the aquatic food web, the water cycle, the roles of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the effects of invasive species.
  • Field trip on the water. Cruises provide an opportunity for hands-on experience: students examine plankton samples, test water clarity, practice marine knot tying, take temperature readings, and more. Classes leave from one of two locations.
    • Macomb County: 2.5-hour educational cruise on the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.
    • Wayne County: 2-hour educational cruise on Lake Erie and the Detroit River.
  • Follow-up classroom experiments and discussion. Using data they’ve collected on the field trip, students conduct experiments and discuss what they’ve learned.

Benefits of Participating

Educational Relevance: The Great Lakes Education Program is part of an approved science curriculum for students and addresses an important need. Studies have shown that fourth grade students in Michigan generally have little understanding of the Great Lakes and local water resources. GLEP helps bridge this gap and prepare students for their roles as future decision-makers responsible for the state’s natural resources.

Multidisciplinary Learning: By combining natural and human elements of Michigan’s coastal resources, GLEP touches on aspects of social science, physical and biological science, mathematics, literature, and the arts—all in the context of a common theme.

Proven Effectiveness: Recent research by Michigan Sea Grant has shown that GLEP participants significantly increased their knowledge of the Great Lakes and water resources. Anecdotal comments suggest that GLEP’s hands-on activities play an important role in stimulating students’ enthusiasm and interest in learning about the Great Lakes.

Easy to Participate: As a teacher, it’s easy for your class to participate in GLEP. You need not be a Great Lakes or water resources expert. GLEP program leaders provide teachers with all necessary learning materials, a training workshop, support contacts, and volunteer assistance.