April 22, 2012 Being a PolarEDUCACTOR
The Montreal PolarEDUCATOR workshop was fantastic! There were 170 teachers and other educators sitting in the lecture hall on Saturday morning, all ready to talk and learn about polar science. We started with a short walk to the metro station, which took us to the Botanical Gardens and the workshop. It was a cloudy and almost rainy day, but it didn’t matter because we were very excited about getting started.
We began in a large lecture hall where everyone came in after having a pastry and something to drink. I met many new teachers from some very far away places, along with several folks that I had met at the last conference two years ago. We listened to the opening speeches mostly given by scientists and the director of an organization called Students on Ice. The Students on Ice program takes high school aged students to the Arctic and the Antarctic on vessels where they get to learn from scientists and many other people. We broke out into different sessions for hands-on activities and discussions focused on specific topics. I attended sessions on Arctic Ocean currents and polar ice. We finished up that day back in the lecture hall and then adjourned to a reception at one of the local museums. It was great, and I even played some native Inuit games.
On Sunday we sort of refocused our efforts and attended two more activity sessions. I did have time to visit the butterfly exhibit in one of the greenhouses. The butterflies were gigantic! There were also the largest moths I have ever seen. At the end of the second day we divided in to smaller groups and started to tackle some larger questions. My group worked on a plan to form a network for teachers interested in including polar lessons and examples in their regular curriculum. There were lots of good ideas and comments but we decided that another meeting would be needed to really get things started.
This afternoon I registered for the main IPY Conference, which begins tomorrow, and attended their reception for just a little while. I am still pretty tired from the fieldwork and all of the flying. It is a wonderful thing for a teacher like me to have the opportunity to meet and make connections with so many motivated teachers. I even have a plan with one of the German teachers for us to get our students talking to each other about where they live and how it is to have your teacher visit a polar region. I think that would be a great opportunity for the kids to learn from each other. By the end of the week I hope to make many similar connections with teachers and researchers from the U.S. and other countries.