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Tech, local community celebrate Lake Superior

April 24, 2013 by STEPHEN ANDERSON ( for the The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - More than 250 students, teachers, parents and community members packed Michigan Technological University's Great Lakes Research Center Tuesday night for a celebration of Lake Superior.

The event, sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative and Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, offered a wide array of informative displays, hands-on kids' activities, showcases featuring locally grown and produced products, and even a birthday cake in recognition of the Initiative's five-year anniversary.

"We are extremely pleased with the event and the terrific turnout by the community," said Joan Chadde, education/outreach program coordinator for the Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education.

Isle Royale National Park Ranger Valerie Martin worked through a physics demonstration with 12-year-old Hancock resident Elliot Majlessi, showing some of the factors influencing underwater exploration. About 75 percent of the park is underwater, including many shipwrecks. It was one of many hands-on activities featured at Tuesday’s Lake Superior Celebration event, which welcomed more than 250 people to the Great Lakes Research Center.

Lake Superior Day is actually the third Sunday in July, but with Tech's academic year winding down and LSSI's five-year anniversary, the 6-8 p.m. Tuesday event was well-received by the community.

"I think the whole community enjoyed this event immensely," read one evaluation filled out by a participant at the end of the night. "Do it every year."

In addition to the displays and activities, GLRC Director Guy Meadows led tours throughout of Tech's newest building, which was dedicated Aug. 2. The three stories above ground and the basement were all open to the public, and tours were also offered of the neighboring aquaponics lab.

The research center features public areas on the east side of each of the floors to encourage collaboration between researchers within the building and the local community, too. Labs, which are all reconfigurable - no single department or college within the university oversees the center - are in the middle of the building, with offices and classrooms around the edges. Offices are intentionally small to encourage collaboration among the diverse range of building occupants.

In the basement's boathouse, still home to winter storage of the research vessel Agassiz, students from Dollar Bay High School's Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics were on hand with a tank holding two remotely operated vehicle prototypes, which could be controlled by passersby, with help from students.

The first and second floors were buzzing with activity. First-floor displays included the Copper Country Audubon Club, G&A Farmers Market and Garden Center, Gierke Blueberry Farm, Hidden Acres Farm, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior's Huron River Restoration, Organic Heirloom Plants and the Society of Environmental Engineers.
The second-floor displays, in addition to the birthday cake and other refreshments, included Algomah Acres Honey Farm, Caf Rosetta, C-L-K Heritage Garden, Good Bread, Keweenaw Land Trust, Tech's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences, Native Plants and Their Uses and Wood n' Spoon.

Also on the second floor, Ann Arbor-based singer/songwriter/educator Joe Reilly ( put on a pair of concerts featuring several nature-related songs. He will also be touring locals schools this week.
For more information on the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, which serves 14 schools, 2,250 students, 75 teachers and 40 community partners in Houghton, Baraga and Keweenaw counties, visit For more information on the Great Lakes Research Center, visit

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