Before Your Cruise – Lesson Plan

    Before you take your students on a cruise be sure that they are familiar with the geography of the lake or river that they will be visiting.  If you are taking your class on one of Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) vessels, the D.J. ANGUS (berthed in Grand Haven, Michigan) or the W.G. JACKSON, (berthed in Muskegon, Michigan) you might wish to use maps given in Figure 1 or Figure 2, respectively.  (See to learn how to use one of GVSU’s vessels.)  Aside from stations in Lake Michigan, the stations you are most likely to make aboard these vessels are indicated on the maps.  Most cruises in Spring Lake stop at Viet’s Landing or Deep Hole.  In the Grand River, Turning Basin and the tannery are the most common stops.  And in Muskegon Lake, most classes stop at Car Ferry Dock.  Besides discussing the geography of your cruise destination with your students, you might print the appropriate map and distribute copies to your students to take along on the cruise.  Then at each station they can locate themselves on the map.

    You should also discuss the types of data that you will be collecting and what the data tells you about water quality (see Manual).  To get your students thinking about the analyses they will be making, you might ask them to hypothesize as to which body of water that they will be visiting will have the highest value for the various tests planned and why.  For example, they might predict that the turbidity of the Grand River will be higher than that of Lake Michigan.  However, the results of some analyses, pH for example, are probably harder to predict.  After returning from the cruise, the students can examine their data and determine which of their hypotheses were correct.  In cases in which they were incorrect, the students can come up with explanations as to why the results were different than what they had predicted.

    Before holding such a class discussion or making an assignment you might wish to review data collected during recent cruises on the lake or river you will be visiting.  If you are going on an ANGUS or JACKSON cruise, you can do that by going to GVSU’s Annis Water Resources web page (Water Data) and analyze the data online.

   Before the cruise you might explain to your students that scientists not only make observations and collect data, they also record those observations and data. So while on the cruise you might ask your students to take notes as the science instructor discusses the geography, geology, and ecology of the water system. Ask your students to make observations, draw sketches, and record data in their notebooks. Immediately following the cruise, asking your students to record their reflections in their notebooks will provide insight into their thinking about their experience. Try asking them leading questions such as, "Was the cruise what you expected? How did the cruise compare to what you expected?" For some examples of notes taken by students during an ANGUS cruise and post-cruise reflections see Boat Trip.

Back to Main Page