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Explore Lake Michigan aboard a working scientific vessel!

Since 1986, thousands of students and others have experienced hands-on science on Lake Michigan and adjoining waters through the Water Resources Outreach Education Program of Grand Valley State University's Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute. Offered aboard GVSU's research and education vessels D.J. Angus and W.G. Jackson, the program serves school groups as well as other organizations. It can be customized for all ages from fourth grade through adults.

About the Program

Operating season for the vessels is mid-April through mid-October. There are two reservation times: Fall trip reservations are taken in May, and Spring trip reservations for the next year are taken in Fall of the current season. There are a limited number of endowment supported cruises available.


This two and a half hour hands-on, investigative science experience is truly a unique learning experience. In this floating classroom, aquatic science instructors guide participants in the use of sampling equipment and instruments to compile water quality data from Lake Michigan and connecting water bodies.


Sampling and Analysis

Sampling equipment used on a standard cruise includes a plankton net, Van Dorn water bottles, and a PONAR dredge. Equipment for determining water color, transparency (secchi disk), and temperature is also found on the vessels.

The main cabins on the vessels have specially designed laboratories for students. which have various water analysis stations. These include dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and conductivity. Other types of analyses can include nitrates, phosphates, and alkalinity. Microscopes with video cameras are used for examining biological samples. Other instruments on the vessels are a Global Positioning System (GPS) for position and depth finders. For more information on cruises, please see our instructor/student manual.

Correlations with educationsl standards

Data from sampling stations are compared and contrasted to develop an understanding of Lake Michigan and inland lake or river ecology. For school groups, attention is paid to aligning the cruise experience with Michigan science standards. This experience addresses the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations for science and social studies as well as high school standards ( Biology, Earth Science).


The optimal size group for a cruise is twenty students plus two or three teachers/parents. The MAXIMUM group size permitted is a TOTAL of 26 students and adults in any combination on the D. J. Angus docked at Harbor Island in Grand Haven, Michigan and 28 participants on the W. G. Jackson docked at the Lake Michigan Center in Muskegon, Michigan.


Scheduling a Trip

To book vessel trip(s) for the 2015-2016 season, follow the instructions below.
The fall and spring season trips fill up fast. Sign ups for spring/summer 2016 began on the 2nd Monday of September 2015 at 8:00 AM. Sign ups for fall 2016 cruises began at 8:00 AM on the 2nd Monday in May. DO NOT CALL ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHEDULING. Instead, please e-mail Roxana Taylor at starting at 8:00 AM to initiate your request. She will call teachers/coordinators back in the order the e-mails are received. In your e-mail, please give a contact name, school, age of group, phone number, and the number of trips you will need.

Questions on the cost of trips can be directed to Roxana Taylor at

Note: For schools wishing to bring two groups at a time for the whole day, we offer free supplemental classroom programs in the Annis Educational Foundation Classroom at the Lake Michigan Center in Muskegon. The contact for this is Janet Vail at 616-331-3048.