Professional Development

Teachers are students too! Great Lakes Aquarium is a classroom, a laboratory, a thinking space, and a portal to the natural world.

Check out the Teacher Resource Center for activities and resources from past workshops and events.

Science Institute for Educators

We offer workshops and field experiences that can connect directly to your work. From Lake Superior Food Webs 101 to using inquiry in the classroom to taking students into the field, our staff and network of collaborators provide educators from both formal and non-formal settings the opportunity to dig in and enhance their understanding.

Program descriptions and details follow; for a quick reference guide, download the full season professional development calendar. Help spread the word! Share the calendar with friends and coworkers (B&W printer-friendly version).

View workshop payment FAQs here.

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Science Institute: Tuesday Series

Join us for a monthly, 2.5-hour weekday edition of professional development focused on Next Generation Science Standards to bring active learning to your students. Each month we will dive into a different topic, demonstrate a full lesson, and explore the science behind it:

  • Participate in the inquiry-based standards-aligned lesson
  • Learn from local science researchers and experts about their current work in the Lake Superior region
  • Access free teaching kits, equipment, and materials that can be checked out from our Teacher Resource Center.
  • Network with local educators
  • Earn up to 2.5 CEUs per session

Time: 4:30-7:00 pm


October 25: Impervious Situations and Human Impacts on our Watershed with Chris Kleist – Stormwater Coordinator from City of Duluth

November 29: Fish CSI – Analyzing and Communicating Data with Dr. Joel Hoffman – Senior Biologist from the Environmental Protection Agency

December 20: Becoming a Scientist – Understanding Moose Health in Minnesota with EJ Isaac from Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Natural Resources Management Department

January 31: CANCELED – Content will be available at the Feb. 11th Teaching with Lake Superior Conference.   

February 28: Wild Rice Detectives – Manoomin Restoration with Tom Howes from Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Natural Resource Program

Cost: Free! (Includes coffee, light dinner, Aquarium admission and parking)

Register Online

Let’s talk payment options.
Contact Samantha Smingler at (218) 740-2027 or with any questions.



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Winter Field Day

January 21 – CANCELED.

If you were looking forward to learning about forestry management and using GPS with students, we hope you will join us Feb. 11th for the Teaching with Lake Superior Conference: Nature as a Resource.  Conference sessions will now include ways to use GPS units with students and mapping a forest to calculate carbon sequestration with John Geissler from Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center.

Contact Samantha Smingler at (218) 740.2027 or ssmingler for more information.


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Teaching with Lake Superior Conference: Nature as a Resource

February 11, 9am – 4pm

This full day conference is designed to offer sessions for pre-K – 12th grade educators in formal and non-formal settings.  During our February conference we want to help you make the most of natural phenomena and draw resources of the North Woods into meaningful teaching moments. Sessions will include:

  • Will we Have a Snow Day? Join a meteorologist from the National Weather Service to understand the science behind lake effect and snow.
  • How Does Solar Power Work? Join experts from MN Power to discover what’s new in the world of renewable energy and how it works.
  • What Kind of Rock is This? Meet a geologist from the University of Wisconsin – Superior to uncover the unique geology of the Lake Superior region.
  • Why do Forest Fires Happen? What Happens to the Animals that Live There? Experts from the US Forest Service will help you answer these questions and many more.
  • How does a forest help people? Explore ways to use GPS units with students and get them mapping to calculate carbon sequestration with an expert from Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center.
  • What Will Climate Change Mean for Me? Join speakers from Lake Superior National Estuary Research Reserve to investigate impacts on Lake Superior and the people in its watershed.

7 CEUs available

Cost: $20 (includes Aquarium admission, parking, coffee, snacks and lunch).

Register Online

Let’s talk payment options.

Contact Samantha Smingler at (218) 740.2027 or ssmingler for more information.


NOAA: Deep Sea Discoveries – Why Do We Explore? and How Do We Explore?

March 18, 8am – 4pm

Great Lakes Aquarium will host the NOAA Professional Development team to share their curriculum collection developed to engage students in the voyages and discoveries of the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer. Intended for educators of grades 5-12, participants will learn how to use their standards-based lessons and online resources that guide classroom inquiry into important reasons for ocean exploration including Climate Change, Energy, Ocean Health and Human Health. The second curriculum will dive underwater with technology and include lessons on selecting sites for exploration in a largely unknown ocean, underwater mapping, and exploring the water column. The workshop will also address deep ocean exploration with remotely operated vehicles and telepresence technology, which enable participation during ocean exploration missions from shore in real time.

The workshop will conclude with demonstrations of equipment and current research projects from the EPA and Large Lakes Observatory while ON BOARD a research vessel – see how the same equipment and questions asked of the oceans are being studied in the Great Lakes.

7 CEUs available

Cost: Free (includes Aquarium admission, parking, coffee, breakfast, lunch and print materials).

Register Online

Let’s talk payment options.

Contact Samantha Smingler at (218) 740.2027 or ssmingler for more information.