Harpoons and life in the water

    Today was the last day of the BARC Science Fair, students learned about the importance of harpoons and how life is affected by temperature, sunlight, and carbon.

    A little piece of tundra
    Ruth Rodriguez and Jeff Olimpo (not shown) collecting tundra samples for the BARC Science Fair.
    Kaare Erickson, the science outreach liaison, lead the harpoon making workshop. Assisted by some of the bear guards, who are also whalers and hunters, the kids were able to learn about the importance and the cultural significance of harpoons. One aspect of harpoons were the toggle heads.
    Whale and seal harpoons
    Kaare Erickson gives a brief history on the making whale and seal harpoons.
    So the toggle head, which is the end of the harpoon is designed to get lodged into the blubber of the either the seal, and the hunter will pull in the animal. The design of the toggle will vary depending on the hunter. The kids made harpoons with ivory heads that were hand carved by Erickson. Interestingly, the weight the toggle is able to hold is amazing. Kaare demonstrated with the head lodged in a banana – it was able to hold almost 20 pounds of weight. The mini-harpoons consisted of a wooden dowel, a float, and the toggle head.

    The second part of the day consisted of the activities by the UTEP AEL lab. In the morning, different types of tundra were collected for the activities. The UTEP team also collected different types of water and some daphnia for the experiments. Daphnia are indicators of good water quality – the daphnia collected were huge! Kids got to test different pieces of tundra and measure the amount of carbon that was being produced. The part that kids loved the most was testing how much carbon they produced. We gave prizes for the kids who were producing the most CO2 in 15 seconds. Next students measured the oxygen in different tanks.

    Oxygen is great!
    UTEP researcher, Rocio Ronquillo, demonstrates how much oxygen is produced in the Arctic.
    The only difference was what was in them, one had daphnia, another copepods, and the other had some moss. Kids were excited to use carbon and oxygen sensors, but they also got to get a closer view with a microscope.

    The night wrapped up with an introduction of the UTEP crew to the community. It was a time where we could say thanks to the community for allowing us be on their land and showing our gratitude.

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    Warm, sunny, with clouds rolling in.
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