Stories from the Blue: A Teacher's Perspective
Through his "Shipwreck Alley" class, high school teacher John Caplis has been connecting Alpena High School students directly to the nearby Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and through it, to Great Lakes history, ecology, geology, meteorology and more. "The idea that we're exposing two-thirds of every kid who graduates from Alpena High School to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its mission and the positive effect it has on the community -- I think that's a powerful thing," he says. Watch our video to experience John's Story from the Blue and to learn about the amazing educational collaboration his class has fostered.
Run through your list of archaeology observations one more time. Make sure that you have as much information on each wreck as possible.
My name is John Caplis. We're at Alpena High School. Shipwreck Alley is a class that was designed to cover all aspects of marine sanctuary operations. So what makes Shipwreck Alley exciting is that I can create some pretty powerful learning opportunities for the students.
The class is really built around earth science. This is an earth science classroom.
Shipwrecks run aground so we can talk about some of the unique geology. Then we move on to meteorology. Storms. Fog. Wind. Waves.
They all cause shipwrecks.
Imagine yourselves out on the Great Lakes in November.
We talk about resources natural resources in the region and we do some archaeology which really opens up opportunities to work with the sanctuary and in the end we tie it all back into lake ecology and how the lakes are changing and how we keep the ecosystem thriving.
We're looking for propulsion type right so if you want to identify the ship we have to figure out if there's any machinery that indicates a sailing vessel or a steamer...
I couldn't wait to connect the sanctuary with my students because I knew they could create opportunities for my students that I couldn't do alone.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is like a museum under the sea.
Everything we do that's really cool in this class has marine sanctuary hands on it.
They feed us a lot of the the real world information that brings that learning alive and they create the field work opportunities or they help me find field work opportunities.
Check out one more wreck? We have time for one more?
This particular class, Shipwreck Alley, doesn't exist anywhere else in the world.
We started with a pilot program of 30.
One class, 30 students. The next year we went to three classes, about 90 students and then we went over 200 students the third year of the program.
The idea that we're exposing two-thirds of every kid who graduates from Alpena High School to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its mission and the positive effect it has on the community I think that's a powerful thing.
I love the fact that I get to partner with the sanctuary. Every person on that staff is positive and has a can-do attitude.
Things get done around there.
It's been an amazing thing for our community.