Curriculum Development January, 2021

Curriculum Dissemination Summer and Fall, 2022

Classroom Implementation, 2023-

The Lake Erie Volunteer Science Network (formerly known as the Smart Citizen Science Initiative) is coordinated by the Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA) and brings together volunteer-driven environmental monitoring programs, new technology, and strategic communications to create a highly coordinated community water data network across the Lake Erie basin. This program engages volunteer monitoring programs to roll out low-cost nutrient monitoring equipment, a user friendly data platform, and a regional community of practice across Lake Erie and its watersheds.

The Leonard Gelfand STEM Center, in collaboration with CWA, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), and teachers from across Lake Erie, developed three curriculum units to build connections between the work of the volunteer network and local schools.  Adaptable for students in grades 7-12, each unit links the science and engineering principles that underlay the low-cost nutrient monitoring strategy with Next Generation Science Standards and authentic project-based learning.

Teams worked throughout late 2020 and early 2021 to build three curriculum units: Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms, Ecosystem Assessment, and Digital Fabrication. Each unit was reviewed by a cross section of teachers and community partners and were then piloted by 10 teachers during the 2021-2022 academic year. Feedback from these teachers was used to revise the units which were rolled out starting in June 2023.

Thanks to funding from the NOAA B-WET program, we were able make the curriculum modules available to teachers in Buffalo, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, and Southeast Michigan. Professional development trainings took place throughout the summer and fall of 2023 and classroom implementation began in fall 2023.  The 2023 academic year concluded with a basin-wide virtual symposium in May 2023.

The external summative evaluation conducted by Improved Insights can be found here.

Although the NOAA funding is winding up, we continue to revise the curriculum modules and are happy to make those available and/or provide training to anyone interested in a healthy Lake Erie.

For more information, contact Jim Bader at (216) 368-5289 or by email at