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Clear Lake Education Center connects people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to the natural world. 


There is a great deal of diversity in the programs Clear Lake Education Center offers. The majority of our spring and fall residential school groups are comprised of 5th to 7th grade students. However, we have hosted groups ranging from pre-K to college age and older. While much of our educational programming is tailored to meet late elementary and middle school science standards, it is adaptable to suit the needs of younger, older, or differently-abled students. Generally, the Director schedules programs for visiting schools based on available staff, but if there is something specific you would like, we can accommodate most requests.

Most of what we offer can be brought to the classroom - see our Travel Programs page.  For more information or to schedule your visit, contact us.

Progam Descriptions

  • Aquatic Ecology: Students will learn about the importance of water quality to the overall health of an ecosystem, explore watersheds and aquifers, and learn about bioindicator species by capturing and identifying aquatic inhabitants, including invertebrates, amphibians, and fish.

  • Archaeology: Students will learn the importance of investigating the past through the careful examination and piecing together of evidence found at a dig site. They will learn about the tools and techniques used in this process and have the opportunity to practice piecing together a puzzle to represent a story.

  • Bats: A study of Michigan bats with an emphasis of U.P. species, the importance of and threats to bats, and how we can help them. Students will identify model bats captured in a mist net. They will also experience how White Nose Syndrome affects bat populations.

  • Bears: Students will learn about North American bear species and their ecological importance. Students will explore adaptations, behavior, and diet of our local black bears, and interactions with humans.

  • Bird Life: Clear Lake is host to an assortment of resident and migratory birds. Students will learn about bird adaptations and characteristics, and discuss birds' vital role in ecosystems. Students will also cover survival issues and learn the proper use of binoculars while spending time in the field locating and identifying birds.

  • Climate Change & the Carbon Cycle (4C): Students will learn the components of the carbon cycle, carbon sources and sinks, system functions, what climate is, and how changes affects humans and nature. They will be able to describe how a system works and how changes to the system create imbalances that may not be reversible.

  • Compass: Basic, practical use of a compass is important in wilderness navigation. Students will become familiar with a typical compass and its function while also discovering the importance of map use.

  • COPS (CLEC Observations Patrol Squad):  Students use many senses in scientific observation of natural phenomena and report their findings to the rest of the group. They also learn that accuracy and completeness are important in scientific reporting. Students will examine a site, collect evidence, and explain their conclusions.

  • Fire Ecology: Students will learn about the ingredients of fire, weather and environmental conditions which make a location susceptible to fire, positive and negative effects of fire, and reasons and methods for prescribed burns. They will learn about native species that have adapted to coexist with and even depend upon wildland fire.

  • Forest Ecology: Students are guided along one of Clear Lake's nature trails to learn about the inner workings of a forest ecosystem. Emphasis is placed on the interrelationships between plants and animals as students investigate for signs of habitats and take part in activities that illustrate ecological concepts.

  • Forestry: Students will learn about Michigan forests and the trees that compose them, how a tree works, characteristics of specific trees, aging and identification, forest types, and what constitutes a healthy forest. Students will also learn forest management practices, use of forestry tools, and effects of people on forests.

  • GPS (Global Positioning System)/Geocaching: GPS units are becoming very common in many different professions and hobbies. Students will learn navigational skills, the use of technology, practice mathematical reasoning and learn the basic principles and hands-on use of a GPS. Topics covered will include satellite positioning, triangulation, and basic techniques.

  • Michigan Rocks: Geology and mining have shaped Michigan's history in a huge way - both ecologically and economically. In this class students take a look at the state's topography, mineral and rock distributions, and some of the ore deposits and mining practices that have figured so importantly in the lives of its residents - human, plant, and animal. Emphasis is placed on the dynamism of the different components of ecosystems.

  • Raptors: Students will learn what classifies a raptor, which raptors are found in the Upper Peninsula's ecosystems, how raptors hunt, what they eat, and why raptors are an important part of the food chain. Students will study what dangers raptors face and learn about current management strategies.

  • Voyageur Life: In this class students will learn about the local history of the Voyageurs, discuss the importance of the Voyageur's travel and trade (especially that of furs) to the region, experience paddling a voyageur canoe, and learn how to use flint and steel and make cordage.

  • Wildlife Ecology: Students will learn about the animals that inhabit Michigan's great outdoors and the behavioral and physiological adaptations that help them survive in our northern climate.

  • Student using chemical testing to determine water quality

  • Two students examining bat features in the resin-cast models.

  • Nature journaling engages students on a different level from our typical science based programs.

  • Hands-on, minds-on make our programs particularly engaging.

For help in enriching your own class or program, see our Teacher Resources page.

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