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One of the most popular exhibits at Great Lakes Aquarium is the Great Lakes Water Table.

Children piloting toy boats at the Water Table exhibit, one of the most popular educational activities at the Great Lakes Aquarium.

UMD students can learn at the aquarium

From eNews, May 27, 2004

In the past, preeducation students at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) would earn their required 60 hours of volunteer teaching by either tutoring high school students in math or reading to preschoolers. Today, thanks to a partnership between the U and the Great Lakes Aquarium, these students can rack up 30 of those hours at the nation's only freshwater aquarium. Students who participate in Partners in Education--the agreement uniting UMD, the aquarium, and the University's Sea Grant program--apprentice for a semester with professional aquarium educators. They learn almost everything there is to know about Lake Superior and its aquatic life, and then serve as aquarium educators themselves, speaking to students of all ages in area schools. "I see this as a chance for preeducation students to make their mandatory volunteer time amazing and for school kids to benefit from the incredible natural and educational resources we have in this area," says UMD graduate student Sarah Donahue of her brainchild. Donahue, who graduated this spring with a master's degree in environmental education, coordinated the program while serving as an intern with the Minnesota Sea Grant office. Eric Ellefson, a sophomore who aspires to teach elementary school, chose to participate in the Partners in Education program because he likes the way the aquarium catches its visitors' attention. This winter, he was among the six UMD student-aquarium educators who captured the attention of second graders in 15 classrooms. "From the first time I visited, I thought the aquarium put a lot of effort into making itself a cool place for learning," he says. "[This program allows me to get] a behind-the-scenes look at how their educational program operates." For more information about Partners in Education, call the Great Lakes Aquarium's Education Program at 218-740-2007 or e-mail

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