In January 2009, elementary education majors in the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service participated in a three day workshop at the Clear Lake Education Center.  This is NMU's third such workshop at Clear Lake in the past two years.  Despite really deep snow, lack of running water, and creaky bunk beds, students had a great time as they learned about outdoor science education. These workshops are offered every semester as a cornerstone of ED 312 and focus on internationally renowned programs such as Project Learning Tree, Project Wild, and Project WET (Water Education for Teachers). Students receive professional development in one or more of these programs which are planned and taught by Dr. Greg Coverdale and Ms. Libby Dorn. Libby is nationally recognized for her work as the director of the Fallen Timbers Environmental Center in Black Creek, WI

This workshop was the first ever held in the winter at Clear Lake and was supported by partners from MARESA, the National Forest Service, the Clear Lake staff, not to mention great support from my faculty and staff colleagues in the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service.

In learning about winter ecology, students learned how to track wild animals and record their tracks in plaster of paris, start emergency survival fires, build emergency shelters in the great north woods, and examine the white and snowy natural environment from the comfort of snowshoes.  Food was cooked over the open fire, lots of educational games were learned, and much social bonding took place.  Lots of storytelling took place including the one about "One Paw," a 3-footed bear who reportedly roams around the Clear Lake neighborhood.

Students were given Flip video cameras and told to document their experience and we all look forward to seeing those documentaries. It is safe to say that we all had a great time and learned that science learning and teaching can be great fun!

Written by Greg Coverdale