Temperatures are cooling off in New Orleans, a sign that the first grading period is drawing near, and that it's been over a month since my return from the Arctic. It is remarkable how frequently my time in the tundra finds relevant avenues into classroom conversation. Inquiries about warm blooded and cold blooded animals lead to discussing how arctic creatures conserve heat. A lunch-time question regarding fishing in Louisiana grew into an explanation of sustenance hunting on the North Slope. More formal lessons incorporating our expedition's content are slated throughout the semester and beyond: I will visit a local Arctic researcher in Baton Rouge later this month, and am awaiting response from a BP community outreach center in order to organize respective labs and field trips. Next week, as we introduce particle motion and phase changes, students will better understand the principles of heat exchange that lead to active layer thaw.
A teacher's transition from field work to class prep is abrupt in many ways, although it is reassuring to realize the scientific method taught to students is the same process followed by researchers the world over. The past several weeks have been busy writing grants for classroom materials... Of note, we acquired a class set of shark specimens for dissection (we'll compare anatomies not only to fish our students are familiar with, but also to Bowhead Whales of the Arctic) and an LCD projector (with which students will be able to participate in projects similar to the PolarConnect event, which utilized a borrowed projector). I'm in the process of adding a bit of diversity to our typical school day by seeking out residencies for several New Orleans slam poets. Without an art class, our students are craving creative outlets....
Many of the CALM team have returned to their respective posts at their Universities: Dr. Klene has begun teaching again in Montana; Kelsey and Elliot are back in class at George Washington. Dima has kept his travel bug alive by visiting Australia immediately after his return from Nome.
We are anxiously awaiting as winter expeditions are underway and several PolarTREC teachers head south toward Antarctica. Stay posted with their journals as we'll be doing in my classroom. Be on the lookout as well for classroom resources as they become available this semester... 'Til then, all the best from 'nawlins.
The Schwarz flag flown in the Arctic now hangs in Mr. Dugat's science classroom. On either side of the flag are pennants from local universities as well as the University of Montana (far left) and University of Alaska Fairbanks (second from right).