Houghton — The Great Lakes Research Center in Houghton has introduced local students to sciences in a hands-on, enjoyable way since the facility opened in 2012.

“I think it at least enriches the children and relates to the world, and it’s things that they experience, and it’s done in a very hands-on way. They’re not having quizzes and tests,” said Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

The after-school classes are split into three grade levels — one through two, three through five and six through eight — covering different topics every few months. There is a participation cost for the classes.

The January and February classes are wrapping up, ending with investigating amazing animals, rockets and geographic information systems.

The youngest kids ended their amazing animals class by getting an up-close look at fish housed at the center. Students were shown how the fish are fed, tracked for research and identified.

The fish were met with excited shrieks, and a few students conspiring to eat the research specimens.

“I love to eat perch,” commented one student.

Instructor Denise Landsberg has taught this grade level many times on and off, often teaching the same students.

Though this set of six-session classes is ending, more are coming following spring break.

At this point, a class on the chemistry of food is planned for grades 6-8, focusing on the science of food rather than a traditional home-economics course.

For grades three through five, the next topic will be geology and earth sciences. The topic for the first- and second-grade class has yet to be determined.

Chadde hopes the classes will help kids develop an interest in STEM and sciences.

“I think parents definitely see the value of their kids having enrichment and being able to do things they can’t normally do in a class of 25 or 30 students,” Chadde said.

She sees high levels of enthusiasm from students that keep them coming back. Chadde wants to use the center to benefit the community, building on the Michigan Tech resources, experts and facilities.

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