After just about five weeks of being in Antarctica, I'm now home safe and sound. School is back in full swing. There are no flight schedules to check, no humidity sensors to raise, no 70-pound lead-acid batteries to heft, no helicopters to load, no "house mouse" duties, and no "bag-drag" times. I haven't had to think about avoiding a crevasse, the temperature has not gone below 20˚F and I haven't had to wait until midnight to use the internet! I haven't talked to Forbes, Elina, Dave or Lee since I left.
I have slept in my own bed, and taken seven showers longer than two minutes this week alone! I can talk to people any time I want and I don't get information from my wife the day after it happened! Life is back to normal.
Here are a few frequently asked questions that I've been answering since I've been home.
Would I do this again?
In a heartbeat!
Do you miss your AWS teammates?
Absolutely. For slightly longer than five weeks, I spent nearly every minute with the four members of the AWS teams. Together we flew in airplanes and helicopters to very remote locations all over Antarctica, we dug deep into the ice to retrieve the buried batteries. We shared many meals, laughs and shared a Christmas. We became friends and maybe even a family. I miss them and look forward to connecting with them when they get home in March.
Even though I was at least 20 years older than the next oldest (Lee) and thirty years older than Forbes and Elina, with Dave comfortably in the middle, I didn't feel that old and they didn't seem that young.
Was it fun?
YES! There was always something to do, something to prepare for and new skills to employ. Because of that, it was exciting and challenging and interesting. I was not bored...not even for a moment.
Would you recommend PolarTREC to other teachers?
I would recommend PolarTREC to any teacher who wants to expand their horizons and really catch the attention of their students. As teachers, we tell our students to take risks and to become lifelong learners. I was honestly surprised at how this caught the attention of so many students. How else could I get hundreds of students (most of whom I don't have in my own classes) reading long journal articles about a subject that I couldn't have gotten them interested in any other way? Have you ever tried to teach about longitude and latitude? I was able to teach it...by stepping from today into yesterday and from hemisphere to hemisphere!
Are you done with PolarTREC?
While most of my responsibilities end when I get home from my expedition, I'm not completely finished. There are still forms to complete and photos to submit and document. I have enjoyed every moment of my PolarTREC experience.
I hope to contribute in the future in any what that I can be helpful to both PolarTREC and the Automatic Weather Station Project. I know that there were several alumni PolarTREC teachers who were very helpful at our orientation in Alaska as mentors. There is also a select group of previous PolarTREC teachers who participate in the selection process for future cohorts. If I can be helpful in any way at any time, I would be honored!
Thank you PolarTREC! Thank you AWS team, and thank you to my family, coworkers, administration, friends, and students!