Addressing Water Issues in the Great Lakes Basin, Michigan, and our Local Communities
The Great Lakes Learning Initiative (GLLI)
by Jo Codde, PhD
The overall goal for this proposed project is to engage students, communities, and teachers with a real world program using new tools for learning that include computer based learning games, simulations, and social media. In order to solve today’s problems in the future we must better prepare our younger generations to be both better water consumers and leaders in STEM related careers.
In the very near future, young people of today will be called upon to exert a collective awareness and leadership to protect and steward our Great Lakes and our fresh water systems. Their prior engagement in STEM disciplines will be the foundation they will draw upon for their decision-making, as this call will be made from their classrooms, workplaces, and their community. Whether they are engineering a new power plant, assisting farmers with crop generation, or developing monitoring software for water levels and contamination, they will also be living in a community asking for input on infrastructure needs and environmental management. The need for STEM knowledge is paramount to discovering innovative ways for preserving and protecting the dynamic world we live in and our Great Lakes – the largest surface area of freshwater on our planet – for generations to come. And even more urgently, we need to address the issues surrounding safe drinking water. By using today’s technology communities can access information and educational programs that both inform and education a community and particularly our young people as they will become the next generation of water managers, leaders, and consumers.
The Great Lakes Learning Initiative (GLLI) will support a collaborative effort between Michigan State University, state government, local communities, local school districts, donor agencies, and other key stakeholders. Rather than create a single stand-alone program we propose a program that can be delivered through a web portal in collaboration with a number of other water initiatives. The Great Lakes Learning Initiative and The Great Lakes Learning Game will first be developed as a pilot program focused on drinking water, it’s sources, and it’s relation to the Great Lakes. Having a better understanding of the science behind drinking water will go far to address the issues Michigan communities are now facing.
Through the GREAT LAKES LEARNING INITIATIVE (GLLI), students will gather and apply STEM knowledge while developing a sophisticated, challenging and fun, multiplayer educational game. This exercise will integrate learning theories and science education to attract undergraduate students to STEM sciences. Furthermore, the GLLI will bring regional science, engineering, and education faculty, students and community members together to learn from one another, develop a database of information from which to continually build, and apply STEM knowledge in a decision-making, problem-solving framework.
The proposed GLLI is an innovative, collaborative program focused on developing a virtual game learning system that integrates best practices for learning formats with freshwater science, land use management, and conservation considerations for the Great Lakes and fresh water. This multifaceted experiential learning and engagement tool, the Great Lakes Learning Game (GLLG), will expose students and community members to the vastness, the value, and the fragility of the Great Lakes along with decision-making frameworks related to water science, the environment, and bio-diversity.
Once the game is ready to pilot, K12 and undergraduate students will SEE their work in action during a primarily student-led summer camp — the Great Lakes Learning Camp (GLLC) — extending the instructional and learning value of the project. While engaging students in the STEM fields, the summer camp will be a unique opportunity to observe how teams of learners process information, apply it to their game-playing scenarios, and retain it for decision making. As the game further develops, policymakers will be invited to unfold scenarios regarding decisions that impact the Great Lakes and fresh water supplies to see how the options play out in years to come. By applying newly acquired knowledge to an evolving learning tool, the student will not only gain understanding of the STEM fields, but also apply what they know, envision the outcomes, and share it with others.
To win for Michigan and the world in the GLLG, these young leaders of tomorrow will need STEM Education for sophisticated, science-based decision making regarding innovation’s role in preserving the Great Lakes, a precious fresh water resource.
I encourage you to support this new initiative by contacting me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and starting a conversation about how to move this program forward in our schools and communities.
Best regards, Jo Codde