Four teachers have returned from the Arctic, and ten moreare preparing to go to the Antarctic as part of the TeachersExperiencing the Arctic/Antarctic (TEA) program funded by theNational Science Foundation (NSF). Through the program,elementary and secondary school teachers participate in ongoingfield research with NSF-funded scientists, and then bring backwhat they have learned to share with students and other teachers.
"What better way is there to teach through life experiencethan with the experience of a lifetime," said Tim Conner, ateacher from Chenango Forks Central School, Chenango Forks, NewYork, and TEArctic program participant.
"TEA enriches the classroom for both teachers and studentsalike," said Wayne Sukow, program manager for the NSF's educationand human resources directorate. "We show our students thatscience is not just a school subject, but something that is aliveand resonates with relevance for their lives and theircommunity."
This past summer, four teachers from around the countryworked with researchers in the Arctic. Conner assistedarchaeologists in Deering, Alaska as they excavated the remainsof a 1,000-year-old Ipuitak village. Myrtle Brijbasi, fromSuitland High School in Forestville, Maryland, studied theeffects of oil contamination on river otters. Tim Buckley ofBarrow High School in Barrow, Alaska, spent time aboard the U.S.Coast Guard Cutter, Polar Sea, as he worked with scientistsstudying chemical and biological propertiesof the Arctic pack ice. Donald Rogers, from Rogers High Schoolin Spokane, Washington, helped study the influence of Arctictundra on the atmosphere.
While working in the field, each teacher posted updates oftheir journals to the TEA website so their students could followalong.
As the summer season ends in the Arctic, things are gettingunderway for the beginning of the austral summer research seasonin the Antarctic. This year, ten teachers will participate inscientific efforts at research stations across the continent,including the South Pole and aboard the research vessel NathanielB. Palmer. From the ice, teachers can share stories of theirAntarctic adventures, both scientific and personal, with theirstudents through the Internet.
Sue Bowman, a new TEAntarctic participant from Lebanon HighSchool in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, is busy getting ready for hertrip to the South Pole this January. As she teaches her ownstudents about polar astronomy, she works with other teachers inthe Lebanon School District so that their students can also takepart in the experience.
"Our older students are learning computer programs toconduct studies that will mirror my work at the Pole, while theyounger groups are learning all about the Antarctic environmentand life on the ice," said Bowman.
With consultation from past participants, and the willingsupport of the school's administration, Lebanon High School istooling up their curriculum and their computers to keep track ofBowman's expedition to Antarctica.
"I can't believe the opportunities that TEA has brought tothe kids in our school district as a result of this trip," saidBowman, "and I haven't even left yet."
Editors: For a complete list of all the participants, past andpresent, in the TEA program, see: http://www.glacier.rice.edu/
Materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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