New Resources Added (August 2013 Workshop Resources)

Title: UMD- Natural Resources Research Institute

Description: Marketable products from industrial waste materials… Restoring harvested peatlands to their nutrient-rich, soggy glory… Studying the effects of non-native earthworms on hardwood forests… These are just a few of the wide variety of projects that helps NRRI meet its mission of fostering economic development of Minnesota’s natural resources in an environmentally sound manner to promote private sector employment.


Contact Person:


Title: Great Lakes Worm Watch

Description: Since the 1990’s, there has been an increase in earthworm awareness and research across the nation. Studies have been conducted by citizens as well as universities and agencies. Please click on the links above for more information on specific efforts in citizen science and university and agency research.

Many of the studies focus on specific aspects of earthworm impact on forest ecology including:

Effects on Plants
Effects on Animals
Effects on Forest Floor, Soils, and Nutrients
Effects on Mycorrhizal Fungi
Distribution & Invasion patterns


Contact Person:


Title: Large Lakes Observatory-Blue Heron

Description: The Large Lakes Observatory operates the largest university-owned research vessel in the Great Lakes, the R/V Blue Heron. Built in 1985 for fishing on the Grand Banks, the Blue Heron was purchased by the University of Minnesota in 1997, sailed from Portland, Maine, up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Duluth, and converted into a limnological research vessel during the winter of 1997-98. She is outfitted with state-of-the-art research equipment that is described below. The Blue Heron has berthing for 11 crew and scientists, and can operate 24 hours per day for up to 21 days in between port calls. The Blue Heron is part of the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), and is available for charter by research scientists on any of the Great Lakes.


Contact Person:


Title: Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

Description: Come to Wolf Ridge, a nationally respected and accredited K-12 school and residential learning center. Our educational activities immerse participants in nature exploration, cultural history, outdoor skills, team-building, and personal growth. In addition to K-12 school programs, we offer summer campsfamily vacationsgrandparent/grandchild Road Scholarwilderness tripsgraduate naturalist training, and live education animal programs.


Contact Person:


Title: Minnesota Sea Grant

Description: With nearly 12,000 lakes and a coast on the world’s largest body of fresh water, Minnesota possesses a bounty of aquatic and coastal resources. Through scientific research and public education programs, Minnesota Sea Grant works to enhance Minnesota’s coastal environment and economy.


Contact Person: –

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Teacher Video Designs

Untitled from Karhan Karhan on Vimeo.

Invation of the worms from Karhan Karhan on Vimeo.

Arctic Permafrost from Karhan Karhan on Vimeo.

AlbedoEffect from Karhan Karhan on Vimeo.

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Getting to the Core: Understanding Lakes through Sediment Coring

This curriculum was developed through a collaboration between members of the STEM Education Center and the Limnology Research Center LacCore Facility at the University of Minnesota. The lessons and activities are based on our experiences working with middle school, high school, and college students and teachers to learn how scientists study lakes and what we can learn from these studies.


The curriculum consists of 5 activities that explore features of lakes, lakes as systems, mapping of lakes, engineering tools to study lakes, and examining lake core sediments to learn about the history of a lake.  The activities address national and state science standards related to lakes, water cycles, and natural systems and resources. It


This curriculum has been reviewed and recommended by the NASA Earth & Space Science Education Product Review. If you have questions, comments, or would like to request additional professional development on using these materials, please contact Gillian Roehrig (


Target Audience/Grade Level:

Formal and informal Earth science, environmental science, and biology classes

Grades 7-10 (primary audience); Grades 11-14 (with modifications)


Class Time:

2-3 weeks, depending on class length



Curriculum Guide-Getting to the Core (PDF)

Appendices (Powerpoint, Word, PDF)


Download Files:

Curriculum Guide-Getting to the Core

Appendix A – Lake Information Search Handout

Appendix B – Types of Lakes

Appendix C – State of Flux Lake Images

Appendix D – Bathymetry Maps of Lakes

Appendix E – Lake McCarrons Sediment Core Image

Appendix F – Lake McCarrons Activity Handout

Appendix G – Lake McCarrons Historical Data

Appendix H – Lake Stratification and Chemistry

Appendix I – Lake Coring Devices

Appendix J – PrePost Assessment

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New resources added

Title: Cool the Earth

Description: Cool The Earth is a free, ready-to-run climate change assembly program that educates K-8 students and their families about climate change and inspires them to take simple actions to reduce their carbon emissions. The program is successful because it’s fun and empowering for the kids, and their enthusiasm is contagious!


Title: Center for Essential Science

Description: The Center for Essential Science (CES) is a research center committed to developing and evaluating educational materials for K-12 students that focus on some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Directed by Dr. Nancy Butler Songer, the center develops age appropriate visualization and modeling tools, curricular units and assessment instruments that serve as foundational, empirically based information on teaching and learning about the impacts of global climate change.


Title: Carbon Connections

DescriptionCarbon Connections is a three-unit, online curriculum for grades 9-12 that was designed to improve your understanding of the carbon cycle and the science of Earth’s climate. Each of the three units includes five lessons. Each lesson includes focus questions, hands-on activities, virtual field trips, and interactive models. The concepts covered in the lessons span all science disciplines.


Title: Nature’s Notebook and Extension: Engaging Citizen-Scientists and 4-H Youth to Observe a Changing Environment

Description: Extension, with its access to long-term volunteers, has the unique ability to teach citizen scientists about the connection between climate variability and the resulting effects on plants, animals, and thus, humans. The USA National Phenology Network’s Nature’s Notebook on-line program provides a science learning tool for Extension’s Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, and Master Water Steward training programs, engaging volunteers to contribute to a scientifically rigorous data resource. We give examples of how Extension programs in Arizona, Florida, and Maine are currently incorporating Nature’s Notebook, and encourage use of the program in other Extension locations.


Title: Crash course on climate change

Description: Before the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million (ppm). This means that for every million molecules in the atmosphere, about 280 of them were CO2.

However, shows that we’ve burned so much coal and oil that atmospheric CO2 is now approaching 400 ppm. It hasn’t been this high for millions of years. The last time Earth’s atmosphere had this much CO2, our species (and many others) hadn’t yet evolved.

Scientists performed experiments in the 1800s which showed that CO2 absorbs heat better than it absorbs visible light, and concluded that increasing CO2 would warm the planet. More recently, scientists have studied the ancient climate by analyzing rocks, fossils, and gas bubbles trapped in ancient ice. They repeatedly got the same answer: increasing CO2 has amplified the ice age cycle, caused temperatures to spike during the end-Permian extinction and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, and even thawed Snowball Earth.

If the Sun got brighter, that would also warm the planet. However, satellites haven’t seen a significant change in the Sun’s brightness since 1950. In fact, scientific studies accounting for many natural factors tend to suggest that the Earth would have cooled slightly since 1950 if we hadn’t burned so much coal and oil.


Title: Climate Kids: NASA’s eye on the Earth

Description: Climate Kids is produced by the Earth Science Communications Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory / California Institute of Technology


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2nd Follow-up Workshop: Will Steger Curriculum

CYCLES_12-1-12_DSC_0368CYCLES 2nd follow up workshop was facilitated in partnership with the Will Steger Foundation located in Minneapolis, MN. Ms. Kristen Poppleton, Director of Education presented the workshop to the CYCLES cohort through an environmental education perspective. The Will Steger institute emphasizes on education, interdisciplinary approach and cultivating an environmental responsible citizenship among learners. Staying true to their commitment, Ms. Poppleton guided the teachers for teaching various middle and high school activities about climate science using an interdisciplinary, place-based and experiential approach.  Her activities were focused on building awareness, attitudes and skills toward adaptation and mitigation of global climate change. The workshop also provided climate change interdisciplinary curricula and books for grades 3-12 free of cost to teachers. Aligned with national standards, the state standards and the climate literacy principles, each curriculum has been reviewed by educational organizations and partners. More information about Will Steger institute and their educational programs can be found on their website


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First Follow Up: The Project WET Curriculum Training

The STEM Education Center at the University of Minnesota in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources facilitated the Project Wet workshop for the CYCLES teachers. This workshop was the first of the five follow-ups after the annual summer workshop at Itasca Biological Research Station, for the teachers enrolled in the CYCLES project. This workshop was held at the American Indian Resource Center at the Bemidji State University, Bemidji and was led by April Rust, the Minnesota coordinator for Project Wet who provided hands-on, interactive lessons focused on water resources and their management.

The Project WET activities addressed water’s chemical and physical properties, quantity and quality issues, aquatic wildlife, ecosystems, cultural issues, and management strategies. Along with promoting the understanding of water resources in Minnesota, this workshop was a showcase of variety of inquiry –based formats, such as large and small group learning, whole-body activities, laboratory investigations and discussion of local and global topics, which not only improved the understanding of water resources but also modeled inquiry-based teaching in the classroom.


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CYCLES 2nd summer workshop, August 2012

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks…..”        John Muir
Summer 2012 was an outdoor experience for the CYCLES group. Teachers, researchers and facilitators spent a significant time amongst the various elements of nature, enjoying and learning from it every possible way. The adventure began on August 5, 2012 when the 2nd annual workshop began at Itasca Biological Research Station. Located at the convergence of coniferous, eastern deciduous and tall grass prairie ecosystems, Itasca Biological Research Station provided an excellent opportunity for understanding habitats in their pristine forms. Workshop participants stayed on-site at the research station and engaged in hands-on activities, excursions and field trips about this year’s theme of the impact of Global Climate Change on Water Resources in US. Itasca being the headwaters of the Mississippi river turned out to be the most optimal location for having scientific and culturally relevant conversations around water.

We started off with a Native water blessing ceremony and then proceeded this culturally congruent experience towards discussions involving western science. Using limnological techniques to study various physico-chemical parameters like lake depth, turbidity, water temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), salinity, and density, the participants examined Lake Itasca’s water quality. Then through extensive data-based discussions, the group was able to generate an understanding about how seasonal variations in lakes are experiencing long-term impacts due to the changing climate. By focusing on some key concepts like dissolved oxygen, salinity and pressure, the participants were able to understand the importance of watershed drainage and anthropogenic nutrient pollution in the water bodies of Minnesota.

As if canoeing on the lake and nature walks were not enough fun, we were also able to participate in a high altitude ballooning experience. High-altitude ballooning involves using helium-filled (or hydrogen-filled) weather balloons to lift payloads (boxes containing data collection instruments) into the upper atmosphere (up to about 90,000 feet). Balloons grow in the upper atmosphere until they spontaneously burst, after which the payload returns to the ground by parachute. On-board GPS receivers and ham radios send out location information using APRS format so the balloon can be tracked from the ground and recovered.

Through out the week, we were fortunate enough to have Native researchers and teachers on the team who guided our efforts and experiences and kept the knowledge flow culturally relevant. This cohort plans to meet for five follow up workshops where these conversations will be carried on in greater details and even more focused on specific issues related to water quality and global climate change.

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Lake Core Analysis in LacCore Laboratory at the University of Minnesota

The first group of the CYCLES teachers for lake core analysis visited LacCore laboratory at the University of Minnesota at Feb 11th to analyze the Lake Itasca’s lake sediment cores. The second group of the teachers will visit to do same analysis at Feb 25th.  The lake core analysis workshop was started by Dr Amy Mybro’s presentation of the importance of studying lake cores for constructing past climate and description of the process of the lake core sampling at different geological locations as well as different seasons (on water or ice). After the presentation, the real analysis of the sediment core from Lake Itasca started by cutting the core’s plastic tube using a safe cutting machine. After cutting the core by half, the core were analyzed under different high tech machines to describe it’s color, chemical composition, magnetic minerals, density, etc. Teachers described the lake cores using a worksheet developed by the LacCore, made the smear slides using a part of the sediment they picked, analyzed the slide under high resolution microscope.

Please find detailed process of analyzing the lake core from the Initial Core Description website of the LacCore:

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February Workshop was held in Lake Itasca

The first 2012 CYCLES workshop was held at Lake Itasca, University of Minnesota’s
Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories at Jan 21st. The workshop was for collecting the lake’s sediment core samples at five different locations. The lake core team from University of Minnesota’s Limnology Research Center, LacCore leading by Dr. Amy Mybro helped the CYCLES teachers to collect lake sediment samples over the ice.

The five different locations were chose because of the lake unique topology to understand geological and biological interactions and events that have happened during last 10000 years. It will reveal the long ecological history of the lake when we do the analysis at the next workshop, which will be held in two weeks at the LacCore laboratory at the University of Minnesota at TwinCities.

The following information was found at Wikipedia

Lake Itasca is a small glacial lakein the Headwaters area of north central Minnesota. The lake is home to the University of Minnesota’s Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories campus, which offers summer courses and field research work year round. When it was founded the Lake Itasca region was able to boast that it was the juncture of the three great habitats of North America. The Great Plains, the Deciduous Forest of the south, and the Coniferous Forest of the north. To this day, remnants of all three may be observed in the park.The Ojibwe name for “Lake Itasca” was Omashkoozo-zaaga’igan (Elk Lake); this was changed by Henry Schoolcraft to “Itasca”, coined from a combination of the Latin words veritas (“truth”) and caput (“head”).

Find more information about Lake Itasca from Wikipedia

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USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps – a new resource is added

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps

Description: The US Department of Agriculture recently updated their plant hardiness zone maps, which are “the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive in a certain location.” They calculate this map based on average minimum winter temperature.


Note: The Washington Post has a cool visualization that allows you to compare 1990 and 2012 plant hardiness maps here ( Think about ways your students could use these maps to explore ideas about climate.

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