“There is no delight in owning anything unshared.” — Seneca
Figuring out what to do with the knowledge gained from the hands-on field research with the Greenland Subglacial Tremor Project has taken some time. The sheer amount of information alone is a lot to process. The second and third components of the PolarTREC Program include broad dissemination of the teacher experience to students, professionals, and the public and developing a sustainable learning community. This is how we are doing it.
The first step was to start in the classroom by asking students themselves to take part in the process of sharing what was learned being a part of the expedition. Students completed the Arctic Studies course with the IcebergsA floating body of ice that has broken away from a glacier. In Maine exhibition assignment. The photographs reflected things they learned about Greenland and impacts of the melting Western Greenland Ice Sheet on politics, economics, and society in Maine. With curriculum help from The Climate Initiatve, a solutions based organization in Maine, students were able to gain knowledge about sea level rise to use in artist statements accompanying photos. We brainstormed how to display them and types of audiences we wanted to reach. They decided on the Maine State House lobby, which will take some time to clear if ever, (we are trying), and we looked at polar and climate change conferences where the exhibit itself or the project idea could be shared. The photos were taken to a professional printer named Jim Nickleson and matted in simple frames.
There are numerous conferences and opportunities for educators and teachers throughout the summer and fall months, all of them with application deadlines typically during mid to late spring.
The first conference opportunity came with the University of Maine Climate ChangeA statistically significant variation in either the mean state of the climate or the mean variability of the climate that persists for an extended period (typically 10 years or more). Climate change may result from such factors as changes in solar activity, long-period changes in the Earth's orbital elements, natural internal processes of the climate system, or anthropogenic forcing (for example, increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases). Workshop. The virtual event included keynotes from Dr. David Reidmiller, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Dr. Seth Campbell, University of Maine School of Earth and Climate Science PolarTREC 2013, and Dr. Ivan J. Fernandez, University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture. Although not a presenter, attending conferences like this are great because there are many small group activities and breakout sessions that pair participants together to talk about what they are doing in the classroom and exchange ideas for strategies, lessons, and projects. The Greenland Subglacial Tremor Project and PolarTREC experience were shared a number of times and also given some attention during Dr. Seth Campbell’s presentation. For those who know Seth, he goes above and beyond to assist and promote the work of PolarTREC teachers and expeditions.
The next sharing opportunity came from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Global Teaching Dialogue Conference. I was paired with another polar educator for our presentation, Teaching Science From A Global Perspective. Although we submitted separate applications, Megan McCall, Ph.D. and I were paired and created the presentation together. Megan is from the south and works with a program called WeatherBlur, a project of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, whose office come to find out is only 100 meters from my door here in Augusta Maine. Small world. The cool thing is that working with her introduced hands on coastal projects that are going on right here in Maine that we can get our kids involved with. Again, the Greenland Subglacial Tremor Project and related student and teacher experiences were highlighted during the presentation.
Last year I joined Polar Educators International. Part of the work this international group of polar educators and researchers do is in the area of outreach and professional development for teachers. One of the members, Anne Farley Schoeffler, PolarTREC 2016, and I presented Arctic Engagement - Interdisciplinary Opportunities and Strategies at The National Science Teaching Association Conference in Chicago. Anne is a super talented middle school science teacher who shared a number of different topics, subjects, and resources she uses to teach and I showed how they could be integrated into social studies curriculum. The presentation flowed really well between our skill sets, and again, both Anne’s and my PolarTREC experiences and science in Greenland were highlighted throughout. Student projects for the Greenland Subglacial Tremor Projectt were exhibited at a Share A Thon that was part of the conference and gave me the opportunity to talk with a number of educators from all over the country about what we did in Greenland and how it translated into the classroom.
Straight from Chicago I boarded a plane for Juneau Alaska to attend and present at the University of Maine and Juneau Icefield Research Program’s PolarSTEM Conference. This conference brought together people working in a number of different capacities related to polar education. Teachers, scientists, graduate students, organizational leadership, non-profit organizations that fund grants for educators and scientists, and policy makers were part of the crew that found themselves traveling around Juneau, hiking, learning about glaciers, and landing for an afternoon on Juneau Icefield Research Program site in the mountains. The conference itself had numerous sessions that introduced resources and highlighted programs and ideas for teachers and educators to advance knowledge and experiences related to the Arctic. IcebergsA floating body of ice that has broken away from a glacier. In Maine was one of the sessions. The driving goal of this conference was “to develop strategies that engage under-represented students in Polar STEM and provide them with a better understanding of potential Polar STEM career field and non-field pathways.” A number of participants are now working on developing a plan that will hopefully acquire funding from Battelle that will benefit students and help advance knowledge and engage students in PolarSTEM topics. More to come on that process as it develops.
Citizen Science & Visual Science Communication
The process of communicating technical information about science-related topics into understandable messages and stories for students and the public is not without struggle. Lessons were learned along the way this summer and I was able to identify goals and aspirations in a clearer way thanks to interactions with professionals across the country. What I am clear about is wanting to create more opportunities for students to participate in citizen science projects and bridge the communication gap between scientists and people who are not scientists. The immediate future is geared towards gaining more education in the polar field and creating projects in which students are doing and sharing science in engaging and hands on ways.