Stone Lab’s Lake Erie Science Field Trips have been a staple of the lab’s school-year programming for over thirty years, giving students in grades 5-12 the chance to become Lake Erie scientists for a day, participate in ongoing research, and become more familiar with Ohio’s Great Lakes coast. But sometimes, traveling to Gibraltar Island isn’t an option, whether that’s because of distance, cost, or other reasons.
To help address this concern, Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab have released the first two in a series of virtual field trip experiences for students in grades 5-12. Information is available at go.osu.edu/SLvirtual, along with links to purchase lesson sets through The Ohio State University’s ScarletCanvas platform. Individual field trips are priced at $50 and coach teachers through providing a virtual Stone Lab experience for their students.
Each field trip includes a video from the field, along with teacher materials, student worksheets and presentation slides, making it easy to integrate the materials into the classroom. Teachers can also schedule a Chat with A Biologist session after they complete the field trip, giving their students the chance to meet real-life working scientists who study the topics covered in the lesson.
“We wanted to offer teachers and students a chance to still have a version of the Stone Lab field trip experience when travel to the lab isn’t possible for them,” said Dr. Brian Alford, Stone Lab assistant director. “We also hope the lessons will help enhance learning for our field trip groups, either to prepare them for their visit or to review what they learned once they’re back in the classroom.”
The Fish Identification lesson introduces students to information about Lake Erie fish and how to identify them. The set includes video from a Stone Lab fish trawl along with teacher materials, student worksheets and classroom presentations. The accompanying Chat with A Biologist session can be scheduled with Alford, fisheries Extension educator Tory Gabriel, or Stone Lab manager Kevin Hart.
The Benthic Macroinvertebrates field trip focuses on collecting common benthic macroinvertebrates and using them to determine the health of aquatic ecosystems. The set includes video showing collection techniques in a stream, along with teacher materials and worksheets that allow students to estimate the health of an ecosystem. The accompanying Chat with A Biologist session can be scheduled with Alford, Hart, or Ohio Sea Grant Assistant Director Dr. Kristen Fussell.
In addition to connecting directly to Stone Lab’s Field Trip Experiences, each lesson has been carefully aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, the Ohio Learning Standards for Science and the Model Science Curriculum, and the Great Lakes Literacy Principles, according to education specialist Angela Greene, who co-wrote the lessons.
Teachers who complete each module with their students will also receive a certificate for five professional development contact hours.
Other planned topics for virtual field trip lessons include herpetology and limnology. Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians such as snakes and frogs, and limnology covers topics like water chemistry and the biology of lakes, including plankton communities.
Stay tuned to social media and the Ohio Sea Grant email newsletter for announcements as additional virtual field trips are completed. Newsletter sign-up and links to social media channels are available at go.osu.edu/subscribe.