Rivers2Lake: Exploring Port Wing

Brigid J. Ripley


Brigid J. Ripley

Deanna Erickson, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, coaches third graders Natalia Greene & McKenna Coy on how to rename a GPS point.

Our South Shore School District is located in the middle of many fascinating land-forms!  Jamie and Deanna, two educators from the Rivers2Lake program, helped our 3rd grade class discover some of them on Tuesday, March 29th.  To begin the adventure, Deanna gave each student a printed Google Earth map of the Port Wing area.  The students worked in pairs to choose local land-forms to visit.  The class and instructors then hopped in a school van to search for the land-form locations.  The first stop was to explore the forest behind the Bear Paw Cafe.  In the forest, the students found a lot of water that was trying to make its way to Lake Superior.  They also found a lot of deer droppings and rotten apples on the ground, which made us suspect that a small apple orchard may have been planted in that location many years ago.  

The next stop for the group was down to Quarry Point Beach.  There, the students learned about land-forms called “headlands” which are rocky points that stick out into Lake Superior.  The students have visited Quarry Point many times this school year and were happy to see that the snow and ice have melted to uncover their beloved sandy, rocky beach.  

The third stop on the trip was along the Tamarack Bog on Quarry Point Road.  The students were introduced to sphagnum moss, a brightly green colored moss that can hold an enormous amount of water, and grows in a layer inside the bog.  The students will be researching how the plant life in the bog acts like a filter for our water and many more interesting facts that can be discovered about the bog.

The last stop on the trip was to the Flagg River Estuary.  The students have learned that an estuary is a place where the waters in a river and lake meet to “mix and mingle.”  The estuary will be another place the students will conduct research and observations.  

When we returned to the school, Deanna used the GPS device that the students used to track our adventure to upload the locations on the Google Earth map of Port Wing.  It was fun to see our points of interest pop up on the map.

Our local land-forms are a great places for authentic learning opportunities for our students.

For more information about the Rivers2Lake program, visit Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.