Science March: 500 walk bridge in support

Vanessa Dietz/Daily Mining Gazette photos Participants in Saturday’s March for Science flooded across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge during a peaceful demonstration Saturday in Houghton and Hancock.

HOUGHTON — About 500 people marched the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on Earth Day, joining others in hundreds of cities around the world Saturday in support of science and evidence-based research.

Young and old, alone or with family and friends, the throng set off, having gathered near the Aspirus Keweenaw Medical Arts building on the Houghton waterfront before walking along bridge sidewalks into Hancock and back to Houghton.

Tim Scarlett and Amlan Mukherjee spoke before the event, after which people met to learn how to keep the momentum going.

“Their messages were brief and emphasized the need for data-driven policy and science as a cohesive force,” said Emily Shaw, an environmental engineering science major at Michigan Tech, who organized the march with fellow student, Nicole Elise Wehner, a civil engineering water resources major. “The intention is to direct those people to the organizations that already exist. One of the goals for the march for science in Houghton was to channel the energy from the march into existing groups in the community that will continue to support science education and evidence-based policy.”

Shaw suggested those interested in promoting sound science get in touch with groups like Forward Action Michigan, Keweenaw Climate Community and Friends of the Land of the Keweenaw.

Many demonstrators carried signs or wore shirts in Houghton’s peaceful protest with slogans like “Science is Real,” “Stand Up for Facts,” “Science Can,” “Science Doesn’t Care What You Believe” and “Science for the Common Good.”

Dozens of passing motorists honked in support as they drove by the masses.

While not a focus of Saturday’s rallies, some people bore signs opposing President Donald Trump, whose weakening of environmental protections fueled the many Earth Day marches.

The sentiment was captured in signs like “Make America Scientific Again.”

Billed as a nonpartisan event that recognizes diverse communities, Shaw and Wehner set up the Facebook site, March for Science-Houghton/Hancock.

Vanessa Dietz/Daily Mining Gazette Pelkie’s Noah and Taylor Chase, and Lillian Griffis of Hancock test their pasta and marshmallow structures to see how they hold up in the “wind” generated from a fan.

“The Copper Country’s residents grow our roots in our natural resources, and we are enriched by Lake Superior,” according to the site. “Our watershed’s lands, rivers and lakes bring us together, for sustenance, recreation and spirituality. The Great Lakes are our home. Our strong connection unites the protection of the lakes to ensure the health and well-being of both residents and ecosystems.”

Before the march, families enjoyed hands-on science activities at the Portage Lake District Library, where some marchers gathered afterward to discuss how to channel the energy into community action.

“I think the post-march meeting went well,” Shaw said. “Its purpose was to connect people with groups in the area doing work in areas such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, climate change and energy policy.”

Tech students and educators like Joan Chadde helped children study a Lake Superior map and plan a cooperative clean-up, design a tower that will withstand a hurricane, build a penny bridge, make something loud, find out why glue is the clue, discover what is the best insulator and make paper gliders.

“It’s really great to have this,” she said about the activities funded by a National Science Foundation grant and based on ideas from www.familyengineering.org.

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