I love maps! And I love teaching others to use maps. Check out this Google Earth Project to see just where we're headed in early April. It'll work best on a desktop computer (not your smartphone) I've also put the proposed summer trip locations in the project as well. Have fun with this!
In addition to posting to this blog about my Arctic expedition experiences, I'm also posting to all of these social media channels. Please click on the black and white platform icons below (bottom of email) that you use and be sure to 'like' or 'follow' my pages. You'll find more short updates, photos, quips, and maybe even a map or two.
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February 12, 2020
For Immediate Release
Colorado Educator Embarks on Polar Research Experience
Educator research experiences improve and enliven science education by connecting educators, researchers, students, and the public around the globe.
Going Polar! Sarah Johnson, civic watershed education specialist and founder of Wild Rose Education in Carbondale, Colorado is always looking to explore new landscapes and learn from cutting edge scientists. She will be doing just this by joining the Utqiaġvik Buoy Exercise 2020 led by the University of Washington and the United States Office of Naval Research in the furthest north town in the United States, Utqiaġvik, Alaska for 10 days. The expedition team will be deploying arctic buoys in coordination with the International Arctic Buoy Programme, that maintains a network of drifting buoys in the Arctic Ocean providing meteorological and oceanographic data for real-time operational requirements and research purposes including support to the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the World Weather Watch (WWW) Programme.
Beginning in early April, Sarah will participate as a research team member (research assistant and public relations officer) during an authentic scientific expedition in the Arctic, joining other educators who will be working in research locations from the Arctic Ocean to Antarctica, as part of a program that allows educators to experience first-hand what it is like to conduct scientific research in some of the most remote locations on earth.
A significant part of the Utqiaġvik Buoy Exercise 2020 is a STEM education experience for the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps that includes STEM training while building buoys for the International Arctic Buoy Program. They are engaging in three training Saturdays before the April expedition. Then they will send two representatives from their group to join the Arctic expedition to deploy the buoys they build. Read one of the Cadet's reflections from the training day here.
So, their first training class was this past Saturday and I was fortunate to be able to 'zoom in' via video conferencing and be the fly on the wall during their entire class (8am-noon EST). Below are some screen shots from the training that helped me understand what the buoys look like and the instrumentation inside. These instruments measure surface temperature, atmospheric temperature, and barometric pressure as well as date and position.
It was also great to get an Arctic introduction from Dr. Ignatius Rigor, our expedition's lead PI (Primary Investigator).
The buoys remind me of gigantic fishing bobbers that open like an easter egg. The creative juices are flowing on how to create effective education and outreach experiences about buoy data.... stay tuned.
Also, enjoy the video below.
I love learning places. It's important to me to learn about places from a broad scope and on many scales; one way to think about this is 'from from the rocks to the politics'. To learn a place requires giving a bit of yourself to a place so you can become part of it and it can become part of you.
One way to begin to learn a place is to explore its culture And for me, music is a rich inroad to learning about culture. Music celebrates nearly every experience of the human condition and it occurs in a place or is influenced by a place. So I began to think about some songs and even a poem or two I already knew. Then with a bit of further pondering I realized these songs written by men of European descent, did not even begin to represent the music of the Arctic. So with the help of google, an entire evening was spent diving in to the native peoples' music of their homeland.
What I have learned thus far, is the traditional throat-singing of the Inuit people is still alive today in some millennial musicians. Throat singing mimics the natural sounds of the Arctic landscape: wind, ice, sea birds and more. Listen to a few songs and watch one of the videos below.
I'm getting more and more excited about this upcoming trip to Alaska in early April. And I'm really looking forward to meeting the entire team and learning a bit about their experiences, interests, and why they too are excited about this adventure. I'm also interested in the same from the students (Sea Cadets and Naval Academy) who are joining this expedition as student perspectives never fail to impress me or open my mind to think about things differently.
Meeting with two PolarTREC alumni teachers last night, Andre Wille and Susy Ellison, my excitement increased. Listening to their stories of travelling to the Arctic and Antarctic, working with research teams, studying unique pieces of these places, adventures in camping in tents (in the Antarctic summer), and sharing their experience with learners in various contexts was inspiring and fun to hear about. Susy still visits schools on Antarctica Day to teach about polar topics. She also has figured out to get Antarctica cruise ship naturalist gigs. I think she has figured how to make the most of being a retired teacher.
I have never been to Alaska, let alone the Arctic. I have traveled all over the lower 48, but not much internationally. Being landlocked in the center of the country (Missouri as a kid, and Colorado as an adult), oceans are not my expertise. Yet every chance I have ever had to go to the ocean (I can count on 2 hands), I have taken the opportunity. This expedition is an opportunity to go to another ocean; now I’ll be able to say I’ve been to three oceans – that’s pretty cool!
Today I got word from John Woods, the logistics lead, that we have a solid diverse team and dates set for our April expedition; the Utqiaġvik Buoy Exercise 2020 for The International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP)
December 23 – “Hello…, yes I’m sitting on a plane in Dallas. Just landed. Turned on my smartphone and it immediately began ringing. I’m excited to talk to you...”
Although I was sitting on a completely full plane of Christmas travelers, I chose to answer as it was a number from Alaska I had seen a couple weeks prior and was excited to hear from them. Yet it was curious if Santa was calling me from the North Pole?
It was a call to invite me to participate in a 2020 PolarTREC expedition in the coming months. I was selected from over 200 applicants through a rigorous application and interview process to join Arctic researchers from the U.S. Navy and University of Washington who work on the International Arctic Buoy Programme. An opportunity of a lifetime, to go to the Arctic with a science research team. They even mentioned during the interview the possibility of going to the North Pole! I accepted even though it means missing my grandmother’s 100th birthday during the same week of April.