Strawberry Festival to feature free Agassiz rides

CHASSELL?- The public is invited to see first-hand how scientists assess the health of Lake Superior, during free half-hour rides on Michigan Tech’s research vessel Agassiz Saturday afternoon during the Copper Country Strawberry Festival in Chassell.

During each ride, a Great Lakes scientist will demonstrate the use of sampling equipment to collect plankton, sediment and other water quality information that provide data about the health of the lake, or in this case, Chassell Bay.

Microscopes aboard will enable participants to view the organisms collected.

The scientific excursions will depart from the Chassell Marina dock approximately every half hour from 1 to 4 p.m. There is room on the Agassiz for 18 people, who must be at least 7 years old. Life jackets are available for all passengers.

Remotely-Operated-Vehicle (ROV) demonstrations also will be conducted at the Chassell Marina dock throughout the afternoon by scientists from Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC).

“Copper Country residents and visitors are encouraged to learn how scientists study the Great Lakes and what factors contribute to a healthy lake,” said Joan Chadde, education program director of the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, a sponsor of the event along with the GLRC. “These scientific excursions for the public have been offered at the Strawberry Festival since 2006 and have been extremely popular. Young people and adults alike enjoy the opportunity to interact with Great Lakes scientists and ask questions.”

This year the event is funded by GM’s “Ride the Waves” program, along with support from the Michigan Tech Center for Water & Society and the Chassell Lions Club. “Ride the Waves” is enabling more than 500 Copper Country young people and adults to ride on the Agassiz this summer to learn first hand about the Great Lakes.

Spaces on the boat go fast, said Chadde. She suggested that people call 487-3341 to reserve a space. Half of the spaces will be saved for on-site sign-up, which begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 13, with the first excursion at 1 p.m.