My teacher colleagues from Denmark and Greenland headed home this morning, and I was disappointed to see them go. It’s been interesting learning about schools here in Greenland as well as those in Denmark. Here in Greenland for example many students live in remote parts of the country. The total population of Greenland is less than 60,000 people. There are very few roads and no roads between the major towns. In the winter you can travel by snow machine or sled dog, and in the summer by boat if the community is accessible via water. Other than that you need to fly, and flying in Greenland isn’t cheap. For example Tom’s 45-minute flight round trip cost about $550 US dollars.

    From left to right Sine Madsen - biology teacher with an emphasis on Arctic climate change at the Building and Construction School in Sisimiut, Greenland, Peter Gross - mathematics, physics and statistics at Roskilde Tekniske Gymnasium in Roskilde, Denmark, and Erik Winther Jakobsen - human environmental impacts teacher at Aalborg Gymnasium and the University of Aalborg in Aalborg, Denmark.

    From left to right Kirsty Tinto – geophysicist research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory - Columbia University and Tom Koch Svennesen - chemistry and religion teacher at Aasiaat GU in Aasiaat, Greenland.

    Because of the remoteness many of the students live at the schools they attend and travel home three or four times a year. They take similar courses to students in the US but things are in the process of changing. Sciences for example are starting to be taught in a collaborative way. For example biology, physical science, and earth/environmental science teachers will be working together to plan integrated science instruction. In addition final exams will be taking a new twist this year. Rather than taking a written test students will be given a comprehensive oral exam. Each student will be given 15 minutes to respond orally to a series of questions asked by a panel of teachers. I think that’s an interesting idea because oral exams provide the opportunity for follow-up questions in an effort to determine what someone truly knows.

    As far as flying … I didn’t fly today. Although the four international teachers departed this morning, we had five additional guests arrive. Four news reporters from Denmark and Greenland and a NASA science writer came into town, and I was asked to stay on the ground to pick up the science writer at the airport, help folks get settled into the KISS building, and show them around the area. Since I was on the ground anyway I also decided to fix dinner for the team. Cooking for a group of 20+ people can be a challenge, but that’s where growing up I a big family comes in handy. In those situations, spaghetti is always a sure thing. Just go to the store, get sauce and pasta, and heat it all up and you’re ready to go. There was a problem of course … no spaghetti sauce in the store and they were not getting resupplied until early June. Definitely a different land up here. So I did what any good Italian would do … I bought cans of stewed and chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, ground meat (I think it was beef … may have been musk ox), and made the sauce myself with a bit of help from others on the IceBridge team. So when the team arrived at the KISS building we had a spaghetti dinner with homemade sauce and garlic bread.

    It’s getting late here. I fly again tomorrow, and it looks like the weather in southwest Greenland is clearing which means we may finally get a glacier run on the west coast!

    A stop in the action over the Greenland Ice Sheet. Believe me, the propellers were turning :-) ... It's a bit of a camera trick.