Two Rochester teachers chosen for week-long research sail on Lake Ontario

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Every five years, the Lake Guardian comes to Lake Ontario. The largest research vessel in the great lakes, the roughly 40-person craft spends a year in each Great Lake, bringing researchers, scientists, and local teachers aboard.

“I’m very grateful to have the chance and I’m really excited about working with my students come September to share what I’ve learned,” fourth grade teacher Tucker Ruderman said.

Ruderman teaches at the World of Inquiry School No. 58 in Rochester. While he doesn’t specialize in science, he said he was grateful to have such an amazing opportunity.

He and science teacher Tara Spitzer-List are representing Rochester on this trip. They are joining 13 other teachers from Great Lake states for a week of learning out on the water.

“Rochester is right here on the lake. So many students know the beach or the lake, but they really are not aware of the importance of it or the resource that we have and all the science that’s going on,” Spitzer-List said.

The teachers have been brought aboard thanks to the federal-collegiate partnership — the New York Sea Grant. The Grant funds the experience for all the Great Lakes, allowing local educators to get hands on experience.

The vessel is owned by the Department of Environmental Conservation, and conducts research on water quality, organisms in the lake, and impacts on human health.

“For the next week we’re going to kind of be jumping in to it and learning as we go,” Ruderman said.

Staff with the New York Sea Grant said that the teachers learn to do it all themselves, and can fully participate in each of the three research projects by the end of the five days.

Spitzer-List is a science teacher for the district, and currently works for the virtual academy, providing students in several schools access to science-related courses.

“So much of the science that we study in school and that we teach is so abstract and removed so I’m hoping that this can make it more engaging and relevant,” Spitzer-List said.

The Guardian has been going to each of the Great Lakes and bringing educators aboard since 1991.

“As teachers, what we really want to do is ignite students curiosity and their excitement about what learning looks like in the real world. So to have the chance to learn alongside scientists, and kind of see the way science ideas are actually practiced, is pretty amazing,” Ruderman said.

The ship will dock back in Charlotte on Tuesday afternoon, and the experience will finish with a presentation on Wednesday. After that, the Lake Guardian will pop over to the next pond, returning to Rochester in five more years.