Aaron Putnam was on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea icebreaker with teacher Tim Buckley studying the chemistry and biology of the ice pack of the Arctic Ocean with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). They sampled sea ice for chemical analyses and for algae and invertebrate animals that live in the ice. The project used a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) to observe organisms found on the bottom of the ice and on the sea floor.
Aaron was no stranger to the Arctic when he spent 28 days on board the U.S. Coast Guard ice-breaker Polar Sea as a part of TEA 1998. Aaron's family lived in Barrow for a year prior to his arctic research experience and has since returned to Mapleton, Maine. Barrow impressed Aaron because of features like community spirit, the beauty of the ice, polar bears, aurora borealis, and the extremes of summer light, winter dark, and cold. During his year in Barrow, Aaron appeared weekly as a solo guitarist at the local Mexican restaurant, designed the teacher education web site for Iḷisaġvik College, and won the 5k Barrow Road Race. A fascination with carnivorous plants led Aaron to join the International Carnivorous Plant Society, which published an article he wrote about some unusual specimens he observed while driving with his family up the Alaska-Canadian Highway. For Aaron, the evolution of carnivorous plants inspires questions about the controversial aspects of evolutionary processes, which have led to Aaron's interest in Chaos Theory. His project on Chaos won grand prize in the Barrow High School Science Fair. For two consecutive years, Aaron won first place in his division of the Alaska State Science Fair while his family lived in Anchorage from 1992 to 1994. Aaron's talent and interest in computer technology led him to be the first high school student in the University of Maine's ASAP Media Services Group, where he helped design the University of Maine web site. He became involved in 3-dimensional computer imaging technology and one of his 3-D models of carnivorous plants was published. Aaron is a member of the National Honor Society, and is beginning his junior year of high school in Presque Isle, Maine. He will continue his involvement in cross-country track, the school jazz band, and his private band, while pursuing his interest in science, which includes studying the function and global influence of Arctic ecosystems.