Sailing for Science: Educators Learn on Lake Michigan

August 3, 2018

By Marie Zhuikov

NEWS EDITORS: The educators and cruise organizers will be available for interviews during the free deck tours of the S/V Denis Sullivan between 4-6 p.m. on Aug. 12 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, at Harbor Park (13 East St.). Contact: Anne Moser,, (608) 556-1492

Sixteen educators from Wisconsin and Minnesota will immerse themselves in Lake Michigan science next week, and will learn more about the communities along it as well as new technologies they can use in their classrooms.

Departing from the Port of Milwaukee on Aug. 9, the educators will sail aboard the replica three-masted wooden schooner S/V Denis Sullivan through Aug. 13 as part of a unique professional development workshop offered by the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Center for Great Lakes Literacy with financial support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.

The educators will work in teams, with more experienced teachers mentoring those new to Great Lakes science concepts.

“Many of the mentor teachers recommended the mentees, so they’re bringing people they know from their local communities,” said Anne Moser, Wisconsin Sea Grant senior special librarian. “This is a great way to build a community of practice so that teachers can consult with each other once they’re back in their classrooms.”

Moser said the educators will become familiar with issues affecting the three ports they will be visiting along the way, which include Port Washington, Sheboygan and Two Rivers. These issues include degraded water quality, coastal erosion, environmental restoration and commercial fishing history. They will even take part in the dedication of a new park in Two Rivers.

The teachers are excited about this unique experience, with some astute qualifiers.

“This program has always intrigued me,” said Leanne Bronson, a science teacher at Superior Middle School in Superior, Wisconsin. “I love the whole idea of it but am leery of the close quarters and possibility of sea-sickness. After much deliberation, I have decided that the pros outweigh the cons and I am now kinda, sorta ready for this wonderful adventure!”

Bo DeRemee, a physics teacher at Ely Memorial High School in Ely, Minnesota, said, “I love science education, I love sailing, and I love the Great Lakes. Why wouldn’t you want to travel on an uncomfortable three-masted schooner for a week with people you don’t know?”

Aboard the historic schooner, the educators will work with scientists and staff from Sea Grant, the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Denis Sullivan, learning about water science, shipwrecks and sailing.

On land, the educators will take a walking tour of Port Washington to see the impacts of erosion on beaches and bluffs, and how severe weather impacts harbors and marinas. They will use a computerized story map to gain more in-depth information about the issues. In Sheboygan, the educators will tour habitat restoration sites and use photo comparisons and interactive timeline technologies to explore changes associated with restoration projects. In Two Rivers, the educators will use geocaching and its close cousin, letterboxing, to learn about local fishing heritage and the working waterfront as well as study water quality an aquatic life along the shore. They will conclude with a technology workshop at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum where they will learn how to apply the technologies in their own classrooms.

Free public deck tours of the ship are available from 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 9, Port Washington (Coal Dock Park, 190 S. Wisconsin St.); 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 10, Sheboygan (South Pier); and 4 to 6 p.m., Aug. 12, Two Rivers (Harbor Park, 13 East St.). The Two Rivers event will also feature learning stations set up by the teachers as part of the Harbor Park dedication and the Center for Great Lakes Literacy’s Great Lakes Awareness Day celebration.

The Wisconsin educators are: Leanne Bronson and Robin Reckinger (Superior Middle School, Superior), Cindy Byers (Rosholt Middle School, Rosholt), Lori Danz (Superior District School Forest, Superior),Brian Henrickson (L.B. Clarke Middle School, Two Rivers), Jody Henseler (Wilson Junior High School, Manitowoc), Perry Smith (Arbor Vitae-Woodruff Elementary, Arbor Vitae), and Joe Zawacki (Pacelli Catholic Middle School, Stevens Point).

The Minnesota educators are: Bo DeRemee and Mariah Jeske (Ely Memorial High School, Ely), Nikki Crowe (Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Cloquet), Lori Haak (Simley High School, Inver Grove Heights), Kellie Mulliner and Sherry Williams (Lester Park Elementary, Duluth), Josh Tharaldson (Marshall County Central High School, Newfolden), and John Weimholt (Hazel Park Preparatory Academy, St. Paul).

The cruise is organized by staff members from the Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant programs and the Denis Sullivan. To follow the cruise progress, access the “2018 Lake Michigan Tall Ship Denis Sullivan” blog posts on the Center for Great Lakes Literacy site. Posts will be added after the cruise begins on Aug. 9. Click here to watch a video of last year’s cruise.