By CAROL SOUTH
Special to the Record-Eagle
TRAVERSE CITY — Connecting young people with the Great Lakes promotes in them a fascination and sense of ownership, and could help create lifelong stewards of our freshwater lakes.
Inland Seas Education Association is reaching out to kids ages 5-12 with a series of Family Science Days. Each monthly excursion at the association's Suttons Bay office features fun-learning and hands-on activities. The Science Days also fill the gap during winter when the association's schoolship schooner, Inland Seas, is docked for the season.
Twenty attendees at the recent inaugural gathering learned about the fish in the lakes while they explored the association's Education Center displays. They then selected a small paper fish and colored it. Inland Seas staff members laminated the resulting artwork and helped affix it to a jar lid.
Filling the jar with water and sparkles created a unique Great Lakes snow globe, both a keepsake and a reminder of the lakes' beauty.
Sue and Don Bogue, of Northport, brought their two grandsons to the Science Day. They hope to instill the Iowa residents with a love of the Great Lakes.
"We're teaching them all about Michigan and we're trying to indoctrinate them about the lakes," said Sue Bogue of Andrew, 6, and Luke, 4.
Science Days target an age group not yet able to sail on the Inland Seas schoolship, but the events are intended to build excitement about the Great Lakes and teach basic science lessons.
"They're not able to go on the schoolship but they can still do science activities," said Taryn Carew, an Inland Seas management intern.
Hands flew into the air when the children were asked the names of the five Great Lakes. They responded perfectly: Michigan, Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario.
"We find some of the greatest enthusiasm comes from younger ages," Carew said. "They are the ones that shoot their hands up."
Science Day organizers were happy with the number of attendees for the first class.
"We are really pleased that parents are bringing in their kids to do science over break," said Stephanie Crick, an administrator at Inland Seas. "If families are looking for something to do on a Saturday, it's a couple of hours and kids participate on their own levels."