AWRI Education

Instructor's Manual - Using the Research and Education Vessels

Outline of the Cruise

I. Before Coming To The Vessel

  1. Please confirm your reservation with the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute (GVSU-WRI) at (616) 331-3749. If you have to cancel your reservation, it is important to give another group a chance at a booking. Additionally, the crew needs to know the schedule in advance. Custom trips can be arranged with adequate notice.
  2. Be certain you know where and when to meet the vessel as adjustments may need to be made for weather conditions.
  3. Please bring one copy of your list of participants for the vessel records. REMEMBER the MAXIMUM number permitted is 26 on the D.J. Angus and 28 on the W.G. Jackson, including students and adults.
  4. Make sure to go over the rules provided in this manual with your group. Emphasize safety.
  5. Stress with the members of your group that this is an unusual educational opportunity, not just a boat ride. This manual, other references, and a DVD are available on loan from WRI and can be used to familiarize the group with the equipment that will be used and the various tests performed.
  6. Student backpacks must be left onshore. All personnel and items brought on board are subject to search.

II. At Dockside Before Boarding

One of the science instructors will:

  1. Welcome the group and introduce the crewmembers
  2. Give a Safety Lecture covering
    1. Off limit areas
    2. Personal flotation devices
    3. "Hero platform" procedures
    4. Emergency procedures and additional safety rules
    5. Importance of following directions

The other science instructor will take the group leader aboard the vessel to meet with the Captain to confer about the trip logistics. The group leader will provide one copy of the participant list for the instructors and the total passenger count (adults and students) for the Captain.

III. On-board

When the group boards the vessel, the science instructors will assist anyone wishing to wear personal floatation devices (life jackets). Under certain conditions, everyone can be required to put on life jackets.

A science instructor will point out the various areas of the vessel including the:

  1. Aft-Deck - Where sampling takes place
  2. Main Cabin - Location of the science laboratory
  3. Head (bathroom) - Unisex! Knock loudly
  4. Pilot House - Must have permission from the captain to enter
  5. Bow (foredeck) - Off limits
  6. Sidedecks (along the sides of the cabin) - Off limits while the vessel is in motion.
  7. Forward Cabin (below) - Off limits, do not enter!

Note that areas D through G are off limits except with specific permission. Permission must be granted by a crewmember to cross any yellow lines.

IV. Aft-Deck Orientation To Equipment

During the cruise, a science instructor will orient the participants to the equipment used on the aft (rear) deck:

  1. Winch - DON'T TOUCH!
  2. PONAR Grab Sampler
  3. Van Dorn Water Samplers with thermometers
  4. Plankton Sampler
  5. Secchi Disk
  6. Forel-Ule Water Color Scale

Most of the above equipment is for sampling. However, the Secchi Disk is used to measure water transparency and the Forel-Ule Color Scale is used to determine the color of the water.

V. Scientific Equipment Used In The Main Cabin

The equipment for analysis of samples is located in the main cabin. Navigation equipment is found in the Pilot House as well as the main cabin. The group will receive an orientation session on the purpose and use of this equipment.

  1. pH Meter or pen
  2. Conductivity Meter or pen
  3. Turbidity Meter
  4. Dissolved Oxygen Analysis
  5. Microscopes with Video Camera and Monitor
  6. Depth Finders
  7. Global Positioning System
  8. Alkalinity Kit
  9. Advanced Trips: Spectrophotometers

VI. Underway And On Station

Generally two stations are sampled and analyzed on a cruise for the purpose of comparing different bodies of water. The science instructors provide commentary on lake dynamics, river ecology, and shoreline structures/activities as the vessels travel between stations.

While underway, one of the science instructors will divide the participants into groups to accomplish specific tasks at each station. A typical way the science instructor normally assigns jobs is as follows:

  1. Dissolved oxygen - 4 people
  2. pH - 2 people
  3. Turbidity - 2 people
  4. Conductivity - 2 people
  5. Alkalinity - 2 people
  6. Turbidity tube/plankton density - 2 people
  7. Bottom sediments - 3 people
  8. Secchi disk and color scale - 3 people
  9. Temperature and location - 2 people
  10. Plankton identification/food chain - 2 people
  11. Recorders - 2 people
  12. Deckhands ("hero') - 2 people

There is flexibility as to the number of people for each task and new assignments are made at the second station. If participants have already been assigned to tasks, please inform one of the science instructors at the beginning of the trip.

VII. Summary

An important element of the D.J. Angus and W.G. Jackson experience is the summary of what participants have learned on the cruise and an interpretation of the data they collected. The stations sampled are chosen to illustrate differences in water quality.

The science instructors will facilitate the:

  1. Review of data from each station that the recorders have gathered
  2. Comparison of values from the different stations
  3. Discussion of actual versus expected values and trends
  4. Identification of practical applications of physical, chemical, and biological concepts
  5. Question and answer session

The stations are compared using a specially designed scale that rates the lakes as oliotrophic (O), meostrophic (M), or eutrophic (E).

VIII. Disembarking

Follow the instructions from the crew for disembarking. Remind the group to be certain that they have collected everything they brought onto the vessel and come back again!

Extension of the Vessel Experience

Through this "hands-on" science experience, participants will gain a better understanding of our fresh water resources. The knowledge gained can be put to use in a variety of ways through individual, classroom, and community activities. Connections with Great Lakes research and issues flow from this experience. College and university students may work on special research projects related to their vessel experience. Also, college and university instructors have designed specialized sampling cruises for their classes, and integrated the experience into their laboratory sessions.  AWRI researchers can serve as resources for more in-depth studies.

GVSU-AWRI is a partner of the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program and is the Michigan coordinator for Project WET (Water Education for Teachers). GLOBE protocols are used on the vessels to take water quality measurements and for quality assurance.

Educators are invited to visit the vessels prior to their scheduled trip for orientation and assistance and are urged to show the AWRI Exploring the Lakes DVD to their students. Additionally, the AWRI aquatic science staff can make on-site visits to assist educators with pre- or post-vessel activities. Facilities at the Lake Michigan Center are available for aquatic education training including visits by classes. AWRI holds periodic teacher workshops in GLOBE, Project WET and other topics, which are funded by a variety of sources.

AWRI has produced documents that align the vessel experience with the current Michigan education content expectations.  Student assessment questions have also been developed.

The AWRI website has links to numerous water-related sites as well as this online instructor's manual and data. Call (616) 331-3048 or email vailj@gvsu.edu for current program information.

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Page last modified January 31, 2014