Coming to the PolarTREC orientation 8 years after my PolarTREC field experience gives me a chance to reflect on how the experience has changed my life.
How Science is Done
Through my field experience and subsequent activities, I have developed a much deeper understanding of how science is done. As someone whose experience with science prior to this had been mostly in the laboratory, the whole world of field science was new to me. I now have a much greater understanding of how scientists gather their data - the painstaking, time-consuming, and often frustrating experiences of collecting information.
Feeling excited about my research experience in the Arctic! And happy at this particular moment to have helped solve a technical problem with a winch mechanism.
Confidence in my teaching
I am also a much more confident teacher now. The science I’ve learned has given me enormous confidence when discussing issues like climate science. Having the firsthand experiences gives me something I can often ground my lessons into. I have a lot more confidence bringing students out into the field to do their own authentic research. Hopefully the excitement I have about my research experience is something that has rubbed off on my students.
Mark’s students collecting sediment as part of a class project investigating the environmental history of a local pond
The PolarTREC Community
Through the PolarTREC community I have developed connections with teachers and scientists that I can draw upon to strengthen my teaching. I am part of a community of teacher-leaders who have had similar experiences. This has given me professional opportunities, like collaborating on sediment coring or presenting at national conferences, and connections I can use directly in the classroom. I am also well connected with scientists like Julie and Ross who can provide resources.
The adventure continues!
Finally, my PolarTREC experience has led to other research and travel opportunities. I was able to join a Canadian Wildlife Federation trip to Nunavut, and an Alaska Geographic Field Institute to Denali. Because of the connections I’ve maintained with Julie and Ross, I am hopeful that I will be able to return to Svalbard this July.
Mark near Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada during a Canadian Wildlife Federation trip in 2013.