Professional Development

Teachers on the Blue Heron

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.

Teaching with Lake Superior WorkshopTeaching With Lake Superior FEbruary Workshop Poster

February 6, 2016 – 9am to 2pm

Join Great Lakes Aquarium Education Staff and other local environmental agencies to connect with resources for field trips and facilitating place-based learning opportunities with a Lake Superior focus.  This half-day conference will allow participants to choose the sessions that best meet their professional development and planning goals.  5 CEUs available to prek-12 formal and non-formal educators who attend five sessions.  Light refreshments provided by Whole Foods Co-Op; please plan to bring your own lunch.

Session Descriptions:

  • Boulder Lake ELC – Engage with outdoor watershed activities related to geology, glacial geology, soils, trees, and early people of the region and their relationship to the St. Louis River watershed.
  • Duluth Children’s Museum – Books Alive! A focus on literacy and Great Lakes.
  • DNR School Forest Specialist – Learn how to step outside and use trees to enhance lessons in your classroom in math, science, social studies, and more.
  • Hands-on Anatomy – Work with GLA’s animal care staff to learn the external and internal anatomy of a fish through dissection.
  • Snow Study – Experiment with tools and tips for planning outdoor learning experiences in the winter – sessions for both pre-K and elementary learners.
  • Teacher Resource Center Kit Demonstration – Explore the Aquarium’s offerings of free teaching kits, equipment, and curriculum while participating in a hands-on lesson from the collection.
  • Lake Superior Under the Scope –  Join a research biologist and explore the use of microscopes and nature journaling in secondary classrooms. Dive in deeper to the world of macroinvertebrates and plankton in an investigation of the ways invasive species disrupt food chains.
  • Whole Foods Co-Op – Where does food come from?  How does it grow? What nutrients do we need to be healthy?
  • Western Lake Superior Sanitation District – Hands-on recycling activities for the classroom, and engineering for environmental safety — the landfill legacy!
  • 1854 Treaty Authority – Discover the natural and cultural significance of wild rice and investigate current research into threats to this native plant.

Location: Great Lakes Aquarium

Cost: Free!

Register online

or contact Samantha Smingler at (218) 740-2027 or with any questions.

Other Opportunities

To connect local educators with a wide variety of curriculum, research, and inspiration in a range of topics, Great Lakes Aquarium also hosts a number of other training and workshop opportunities every year. Upcoming events include:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Presents:

FULL – Why Do We Explore? and How Do We Explore?

NOAAworkshopflyerphotos2016March 12, 2016 – 8am to 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.

Breakfast and lunch are provided and 7 CEUs are available!  Registration is full – we are still accepting educators for the wait list.  

Location: Great Lakes Aquarium

Cost: Free!

Register online –

Registration is closed; this session is full.

or contact Samantha Smingler at (218) 740-2027 or with any questions.



Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center Presents:

Renewable Energy Teacher Workshop

RenewableEnergyFlyer2016Two offerings: June 20-21, 2016 and June 23-24, 2016

Workshop topics include:

  • The science of energy and electric connections
  • Hands-on energy-related activities
  • Behind the scenes tours of Taconite Ridge Wind Energy, Hibbard Biomass Facility, Thomson Hydroelectric, and local solar installation!

15 CEUs available!  Registration is required – space is limited.  

Location: Great Lakes Aquarium; transportation provided to off-site tours.

Cost: Free!

Register online through Boulder Lake ELC

or contact John Geissler at (218) 721-3731 or with any questions.