As I look back on the past year since I returned from my PolarTREC expedition, I am amazed at the turns my life has taken and at where I am now, both literally and figuratively... What do I mean? Well, check out my PolarTREC reflection, written about a year ago, and then I'll catch you up on new events related to my Antarctic experience.
How does one reflect on a once-in-a-lifetime experience? An expedition to the bottom of the Earth, working side-by-side with eminent Polar scientists to explore areas never seen by humans before... Well, let me start at the beginning.
My involvement with this project began in April, 2010 when I was interviewed and selected to join the Oden's Sea Ice study team led by Dr. Stephen Ackley, and headed in the field by Blake Weissling. At the PolarTREC orientation meeting in May, I received training and professional development in the areas of polar research, PolarTREC protocols, outreach strategies, journaling, use of technology, lesson planning, and polar resources. In late June, I traveled to Texas to participate in a teacher professional development course, Polar and Planetary ScienceThe area of science of or pertaining to the planets; as, planetary inhabitants; planetary motions; planetary year, or a particulat planet, such as Earth., held at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Through this course, I received content based instruction in atmospheric science, climate change, remote sensing, snow, ice, and planetary science, as well as hands-on experience using several remote sensing instruments and related computer programs. I also met with other participating educators to plan curriculum to support these sciences. Additional expedition-related training was completed in October when I successfully completed the HUET (Helicopter Underwater Egress Training) as required for helicopter usage during the expedition.
Beginning in May, I began writing an on-line science journal, maintaining an on-line photo gallery, and an “Ask the Team” forum, all on the PolartTREC website, www.polartrec.com. Before the Oden Expedition, I developed and presented an informational slide show and discussion to 3 community groups, the Parent Teacher Association at my school, and several classrooms. I also developed a classroom and community flag project, in which 61 classrooms and groups decorated flags, which I took on the expedition, flew them in various places, and posted pictures in my online journal, thus developing an audience of regular readers. In November, my class participated in a live Webinar, during which they spoke to scientists and another PolarTREC teacher working at McMurdo Station. My class also joined a “Penguin Postcard” project, combining writing skills, art, and science as they researched Antarctica’s penguins, then designed and wrote postcards to their families, which were sent to a teacher working with a penguin research group out of McMurdo, who then sent them back to the students, postmarked from Antarctica. I also began designing a classroom unit of study on Antarctica, and shared lessons and resources with other teachers. Before the expedition, I was featured in a front-page article in the Los Angeles Daily News Newspaper, as well as articles in United Teacher, and the California Science Teacher Association newsletters.
During the Sea Ice System in Antarctic Summer project, while onboard the Oden, I conducted several types of outreach activities. I continued to maintain the online journal and photo gallery, posting more than 25 journal entries and over 150 photographs related to all aspects of the project. Early in the cruise, on December 15 and 16, I spoke live, via satellite phone, to classrooms in Texas, California, and Veracuz, Mexico, reaching approximately 160 students. With schools closed for winter vacation, I focused my outreach on answering student and teacher questions in the “Ask the Team” forum of the PolarTREC website, presenting to the scientists and crew on board the Oden about the PolarTREC program, and planning the PolarConnect Live Events. On January 6, 2011, Blake and I held webinar #1 from the bridge of the Oden, with 17 schools and 3 individuals registered as participants. Then, on January 12, we held another webinar, this time with 25 schools and 1 individual registered. I also worked on Antarctica and Sea Ice related lessons and student activities during the expedition, often sharing ideas and collaborating with the scientists on board. I planned for future collaboration with Blake Weissling, and with Escuela Simon Bolivar, in Veracruz, Mexico, a school that will become a “sister’ school with my school, Monlux Magnet, to share pen pal letters, research, and lessons.
Throughout the Oden Antarctic Expedition, I was an integral member of the Sea Ice Team. I was trained in the AsPect Sea Ice Observation Protocals and participated in on-going hourly sea ice observations. I assisted with staging and transporting equipment to the study sites on the ice floes. I recorded data, assisted with the installation of 4 ice mass balance buoys, collected snow samples from snow pits, and collected and labeled ice cores. On the ice floes, I helped set up and position the LiDAR reflectors when the Sea Ice Team conducted LiDAR scanning activities. I also helped measure snow depth and ice thickness along measured transects.
Finally, I met with the other scientists on board the Oden to learn about the other science research projects. I attended science seminars and visited the shipboard labs. I assisted with plankton net deployment, snow collection, and spent a day with the seal research team out in the field. I toured the bridge and the engine room, and discussed navigation and ice-breaking with the captain and officers. I then made this science accessible to students, teachers, and the public by sharing it in my on-line journal.
So , now, a year later. I remain very close to the Oden and her scientists and crew. How?? In August I moved to Sweden to take a position as the Academic Coordinator at the International English School in Jonkoping, Sweden. I work with students from grades 4-9and with teachers from Sweden, England, Canada, the US, and several other countries. Our students are Swedish children who chose to study at a school where 50% of the curriculum is taught in English, with the rest taught in Swedish. We follow the Swedish curriculum in all subject areas. I have some second cousins who live here and I have been able to meet them and visit family I had only heard about. Now that I am settled in, I am resuming some activities related to my PolarTREC expedition. I am very excited to share my experience with a new audience, and help my new Swedish students and friends learn about the wonders and magic of polar science!