Collecting Kids’ Questions

One week from today, I will board a plane for Fairbanks, Alaska. The next day, I will ride in a truck for 8-12 hours on the Dalton highway (yes, the Ice Road Truckers road) with part of the research team until we reach Toolik Field Station!

I can’t believe how fast the time has gone since I first learned that I was accepted for this expedition (November 2012), but I feel prepared. I have been working to prepare my students for the expedition, too!

Alicia teaches class
Alicia Gillean shares a book about the Arctic with 5th graders at Jenks West Intermediate School

About 250 of my students had the opportunity to chat with researchers Jeanette Moore and Cory Williams via Skype a few weeks ago. The kids got to see an Arctic ground squirrel in the lab and had the opportunity to ask lots of questions. I think Cory and Jeanette were a little surprised by the size of their audience, but they did a great job answering the kids’ questions in kid-friendly terms!

Skype with scientist
Jenks West Intermediate students Skype with researchers Cory Williams and Jeanette Moore

Recently, a group of 5th grade students brainstormed more than 160 questions that they want me to answer in my blog! In the word cloud below, the words that were repeated the most often in their questions are the largest. (I removed the words “Arctic” and “Squirrel” from the word cloud because they were so large that you couldn't read any of the other words)

Word cloud
Word cloud of more than 150 questions students want me to answer in my blog posts from the Arctic. The larger the word, the more often it was repeated.

Student questions
A few of the questions students have about my future work in the Arctic

You can see that they are very curious and that my work is cut out for me!

Ways you can get involved

  • You are invited to get involved in this expedition by asking questions in the “Ask the Team” section of this blog.
  • Be sure to check this blog often for updates. Better yet, sign up to receive an e-mail every time a new journal is posted.
  • Don’t forget to take a picture with Sammy the Squirrel!
  • Contact me (agillean [at] if you would like to discuss arranging a Polar Connect event for your class, camp, VBS, or other group.