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Adults and kids learn about Great Lakes research, fish food web, marine robotics, more

by Keweenaw Now
Read the entire article online and see numerous photos and video vignettes: CLICK HERE

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Michigan Tech's research vessel Agassiz has been making a round of public appearances this summer, offering kids and adults a chance to learn about ways that scientists study the Great Lakes. Keweenaw Now had a chance to visit the Agassiz on some of these trips and take photos and videos for a series of articles. This is the first article in the series.]

HOUGHTON -- Kayla Golde, 8, and her sister, Madison Golde, 10 -- accompanied by their parents, Tammy and Emmett Golde, of Elo, Mich. -- recently participated in a variety of activities designed to offer families a chance to learn about life forms in the Great Lakes and how scientists study them.

On July 1, 2014, the Portage Lake District Library and Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) partnered for a science program that included a ride on the Agassiz from the Portage Library to the GLRC, a visit to a GLRC laboratory to see what's in the water -- using microscopes -- and to dissect a fish stomach, and a chance to drive and observe the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) designed by Dollar Bay (Mich.) High School students to photograph what's under the water.

Here are some photos and videos from that event:

Before riding on the Agassiz, Kayla and Madison learned about the ROVs from Lance Kangas, a Dollar Bay High School student in science teacher Matt Zimmer's marine robotics class ...

Dollar Bay High School senior Stanley Peterson was on the dock making adjustments to one of the ROVs for a demonstration.

"It's fun," Peterson said -- about working with the ROVs. "I want to go to school for engineering. This has a lot of science and math involved."

Soon it was time for Kayla, Madison and their parents to take the boat ride on the Agassiz, followed by a visit to a fish laboratory in the Great Lakes Research Center.

"How unsinkable is this boat?" asked Peter Rudnicki, age 7 and 3/4.

Agassiz Captain Steve Roblee explained the many safety features of the boat, including, if ever it should be required for rescue, aircraft from Traverse City, Mich. He noted the Agassiz has multiple uses -- research, a lab for Michigan Tech classes, and public education.

Assisting Captain Roblee on this trip was Terrianna Bradley, Michigan Tech environmental engineering student.

Helping visitors observe bloodworms, a type of benthos found in Portage Lake, under a microscope in the lab was Julia Rice, who is studying civil engineering at Michigan Tech. Rice is from Alcoma, Mich., near Lake Huron. She says she has lived near the water all her life and wants to be a "green" civil engineer.

"Right now I'm interested in the water side of civil engineering," Rice explained.

Peter Rudnicki, age 7 and 3/4, said he didn't know what fish ate before the excursion on the Agassiz and the visit to the lab but he learned a lot from the event.

"The boat is like a mini-lab where they take samples and then take them to another lab, where they analyze and study them," Peter noted.

After the lab visit, a Michigan Tech van took the visitors back to the Portage Library for some boat building or more observations of the ROVs.

Chris Alquist, Portage Lake District Library community program director, who helped organize the activities, said she loves this kind of event.

"It was a lot of fun," Alquist said. "What was really nice about this was that there was a variety of events that appeal to many interests."

At least 60 people rode on the Agassiz that day and more visitors came for other activities, she added.

The Great Lakes outreach program aboard the Agassiz is funded by General Motors.