Welcome to our online newsletter for polar enthusiasts! We hope that this short newsletter will help you stay connected with the teachers and researchers that have been in the field as well as provide you with some new tools or ideas that you can use in your work!

This newsletter will always be brief. The idea being that if you like something, you'll contact the person listed in each sphere to find out more. If there are a lot of requests or interest in a particular topic, then we'll see if we can pull together a webinar or find a presenter to go into further depth.

If you have questions about the content, feel free to contact us here at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com. If you'd like to contribute to the newsletter, you can send those requests to Gary Wesche at polargary [at] gmail.com.


Welcome to our online newsletter for polar enthusiasts! We hope that this short newsletter will help you stay connected with the teachers and researchers that have been in the field as well as provide you with some new tools or ideas that you can use in your work!

This newsletter will always be brief. The idea being that if you like something, you'll contact the person listed in each sphere to find out more. If there are a lot of requests or interest in a particular topic, then we'll see if we can pull together a webinar or find a presenter to go into further depth.

As always, if you have questions about the content, feel free to contact us here at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com. If you'd like to contribute to the newsletter, you can send those requests to Gary Wesche at polargary [at] gmail.com.

Educator's Sphere

Betsy Wilkening  PolarTREC educator

PolarTREC teacher and alumni, Betsy Wilkening is known for getting her students engaged in science. So, we asked how she does it!

Betsy, how do you get students engaged in?

  1. Writing
  2. Researching
  3. Creating
  4. Collaborating
  5. Publishing
  6. Behaving responsibly in a digital world

Wikis provide an easy way for students to collaborate and share work with others in their classroom or across the world. I use two programs WikiSpaces and pbworks. Both are free and offer specific educational features. You'll be amazed by your student's work. When one of my students was working late he remarked, 'Normally I wouldn't care about handing in an assignment, but this is going on the Internet for everyone to see!'

For further information about how PolarTREC teacher Betsy Wilkening utilizes wikis contact her at ewilkening99 [at] gmail.com

Scientist's Sphere

Leigh Stearns and Peter Braddock Polar Scientists

Leigh Stearns has been studying the Byrd Glacier in Antarctica for 10 years using NASA satellite imagery. With these images a methodology was developed to derive ice velocities. Her data has shown that over a 6-10 month interval in 2006 Byrd Glacier, one of Antarctica's largest, accelerated more than 10 percent. This speed-up occurred right after two sub-glacial lakes drained; this water likely drained along the ice-bed boundary of Byrd Glacier, lubricating it and causing acceleration.

For more about Leigh's work contact PolarTREC teacher Brandon Gillette bgillette [at] ku.edu

Technological Sphere

Michael League PolarTREC educator

PolarTREC teacher Michael League recommends these Apps for IOS users.

1. StarWalk Less than $5.00 A must see! This stargazing app allows you and your students to easily identify constellations, planetary bodies, and to look up lots of information about them. Using the digital compass and gyroscopes, your device knows which way you're looking and adjusts the map to reflect what's in your sight line.

2. NASA App Free If you teach the solar system, check out the NASA App. It provides interesting ways to interact with high-resolution photos, facts, and a history of NASA's exploration.

3. Google Mobile App Free If you've ever wanted to search Google using your voice or a camera, this is the app for you! Use your devices camera or speak a search term, and the app does the rest. This is perfect for special education students or those who dislike writing or typing.

For more about these apps contact Michael michael.league [at] gmail.com

Expedition Sphere

There are several teachers out in the field with scientists this month! Be sure to check out these PolarTREC teachers on PolarTREC:

Check the website for the dates and times of their live from the field PolarConnect events.

Important Events Sphere

  • It's that time of year again! Yes, the application period for BOTH teachers and researchers to apply to the PolarTREC program is open.

    Applications from teachers applying to go out on an expedition are due 30 September 2011. Applications from researchers wanting to host a teacher on a polar expedition are also due 30 September 2011.

    For all the details check out the website. You can also register for one of our upcoming informational webinars in August!

  • Be sure to send in an abstract for the IPY Conference in Montreal! Abstracts are due 30 September 2011. Find out at http://www.ipy2012montreal.ca.

Educator's Sphere

Lindsay Knippenberg

PolarTREC (2009-2010) teacher, Lindsay Knippenberg, is currently an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Washington, DC. Through her fellowship Lindsay has had the opportunity to assist NOAA in meeting the needs of teachers and educators across the nation. Some of her highlights from the past year are attending and presenting at the NSTA's regional and national conferences, flying on the NOAA hurricane hunter airplane, meeting and writing a speech for former astronaut and NOAA Assistant Secretary Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, attending several education hearings and briefings on Capitol Hill, and helping to create a portal for teachers to access NOAA materials at www.education.noaa.gov. To learn more about the Einstein Fellowship and how to apply go to www.trianglecoalition.org/einstein-fellows. The online application for the 2012-2013 cohort will be available after October 1st. For more information contact Lindsay Knippenberg at Lindsay.Knippenberg [at] noaa.gov.

Scientist's Sphere

National Ice Core Laboratory

Peter Neff and other young scientists have spent the last 10 weeks at the National Ice Core Laboratory sampling the WAIS Divide ice core, drilled in West Antarctica. This 3330 meter-long ice core will provide the highest-resolution record of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane) ever obtained. The ice dates back perhaps 60,000 years, and may allow climate scientists valuable insight into the relationship between global temperatures and concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. PolarTREC researcher Heidi Roop, in her journals from the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 Antarctic summers, documented the drilling of much of this ice core. For more about the WAIS Divide Ice Core Project, including updates from this summer's work, visit www.waisdivide.unh.edu. For further information contact Heidi Roop at roop.heidi [at] gmail.com.

Technological Sphere

Tim Martin

Tim Martin, Polartrec 2009-2010, has continued his association with his polar expedition team and now you can take your class on a virtual tour.
The German side of the 2009 Lake El'gygytgyn Drilling Project (See Polar TREC Geologic Climate Research in Siberia) created an interactive museum display for students. Part of this display includes a virtual re-creation of the expedition in Google Earth. Through 3-D renderings, images, and virtual fly-through videos, you and your students can go to Lake El'gygytgyn (without the 9 hour flight from Moscow to Pevek on KMV avia!) and explore the drill rig, camp office and laboratory.

Access to this Google Earth download has not yet been translated for the English mirror of the web site, but if you visit this page and find the link in the first paragraph that says "Google Earth" and the next page the link that indicates "download" your students may begin the virtual expedition. (The Google Earth files are all in English.)


Beyond use with Polar TREC resources, this virtual expedition may be used with the DFG TV(German Science TV) documentary (in English) found here:


Expedition Sphere

Michael League

The Antarctic field season is just beginning. Currently, you can follow Michael League in McMurdo Station, on the Antarctica Adaptations of Marine Worms in Antarctica expedition. Michael's team will be going underwater. Since Michael is a trained diver, you won't want to miss his journals, pictures and live events. Check the website for the dates and times of his live from the field PolarConnect events. Follow Michael and the team!

Important Events Sphere

  1. It's that time of year again! Yes, the application period for BOTH teachers and researchers to apply to the PolarTREC program is open. Applications from teachers applying to go out on an expedition are due 30 September 2011. Applications from researchers wanting to host a teacher on a polar expedition are also due 30 September 2011. Apply Now Teachers! Apply Now Researchers!

  2. The excitement of the International Polar Year still continues! Be sure to submit an abstract to the IPY Montreal Conference in 2012. It would be great to have presentations from both teacher and researcher teams! Abstracts are accepted through 30 September 2011. For more information about the conference and abstract submission, check out the website.

  3. September is Sea Ice Month! September marks the Arctic sea ice minimum and the Antarctic sea ice maximum. To celebrate, the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) is featuring sea ice on their website. They will be holding a virtual poster session on 22 September about sea ice, so be sure to check out their resources.

  4. The next Cyber-based Interdisciplinary Science Education (C-ISE) course for teachers will focus on life sciences. This is a 1-credit, 500 level course, hosted through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The fall course will focus on the marine science projects being conducted out of McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Registration will be available by mid-September through the website. If you are interested in presenting for the course, please contact us at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com.

Questions, Comments, Feedback

Let us know what you think about PolarSphere! If you have suggestions, comments, and/or want to contribute something, please email Gary Wesche polargary [at] gmail.com or any of us at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com. We'd love to hear from you!

Educator's Sphere

Join the Passport to Antarctica program!

Catching up on a little reading

Attention PolarTREC teachers and the Polar community – you are invited to participate in these fun and educational activities created by PolarTREC teacher Alex Eilers, who will be leaving for Antarctica in January 2012. Alex works for the Pink Palace Mesuem in Memphis, TN. Her outreach activities are designed for students, classrooms, and the general public.

Here's how it will work.

Each month from now through mid-December, 2011, PolarTREC teacher, Alex Eilers, will be journaling about her upcoming Antarctic adventure. Join her Passport to Antarctica program on her expedition page. During these journals, there will be a variety of things for you and your students to do and she's planned some pretty interesting activities.

'Polar Point' challenges – these are sure to be a favorite!

These journals will include a number of challenges and opportunities for you and your students to participate in and earn 'Polar Points'. Points will be awarded for each of these challenges and the point system will be announced with each journal. Prizes will be awarded and everyone is welcome to participate!

  • Antarctica R.A.W – She doesn't mean raw as in 'uncooked' or 'painful' – what she means is R as in reading, A as in art, and W as in writing. She will encourage your students to READ a book, create an ART project or WRITE about the selected 'topic of the month'.

  • Photo Contests –'What is it?' pictures, 'What's wrong with this picture?' or 'Explain this picture' challenges will have your students scratching their heads and coming up with a variety of creative responses.

  • Decoration Challenges – This is 'top secret' for now – but these challenges will happen in October and December. Got any ideas as to what this might be?

You can find more information in her expedition journal.

Alex will be linking more activities in the next 2 weeks with the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis.
Check out this website page for more fun opportunities:

Scientist's Sphere

A Froglogger deployed in Calvert County, Maryland

2009 PolarTREC alum Tom Harten's middle school students in Calvert County Maryland are participants in the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas project, a statewide program with the goal of documenting the distribution of these species in every county in the state.

Since frogs and toads are most active at night, we are using a technological tool that will allow us to monitor these animals around the clock. The tool is called an Automated Recording Unit (ARU) more commonly known as a "Froglogger". The device can be programmed to record nighttime sounds at desired intervals and then go to "sleep" until you want it to record again. The sounds that are collected are compressed .wav files that can be loaded onto a computer and shared with students in the classroom or emailed anywhere. The units could have polar applications if one was interested in other vocalizations such as nesting birds or really anything that makes sounds. A marine recording device is available through the same manufacturer, Wildlife Acoustics, which will allow for underwater recordings as well. Pretty neat!

For more information visit the company website at http://www.wildlifeacoustics.com

Technological Sphere

PolarTREC teacher, Nell Herrmann, uses the following web sites to better enable her high school student to teach polar lessons about ocean acidification to middle school students. PolarTREC teacher, Nell Herrmann



Nell shares, "I found all of these in the resources list for a little book by Mel Friedman. Antarctica: A True Book published by Scholastic."

Expedition Sphere

PolarTREC begins populating Antarctica!!!

Soft-shelled clams (Laternula elliptica) are members of the phylum Mollusca.

Mike League is still under the Ross Sea checking out the worms. Follow him here.

Michelle Brown will be studying the human impact in Antarctica beginning in November.
Check out her upcoming expedition here.

Let's not leave out the Arctic!!

Chantelle Rose will be traveling North in November doing some winter sampling in the Arctic.
Learn more about this unique expedition here.

Get your students to check out these expeditions!!


Sarah Crowley Welcome! Sarah Crowley joined the ARCUS staff in Fairbanks, AK. Sarah accepted the position of Education Project Manager this fall as Kristin Timm moves on to graduate school. Through her years teaching, Sarah developed a passion for polar science and facilitating meaningful education experiences for her students and other teachers. Her M.Ed and Graduate Certificate in Education, Environment, and Community are from the University of Washington- Seattle. Alaska is now home and she is thrilled to be part of the PolarTREC community. Feel free to contact Sarah anytime at crowley [at] arcus.org.

Important Events Sphere

  1. Upcoming Event! Join Michael League and the research team for a PolarConnect live event from McMurdo Station, Antarctica on Friday, 14 October, 2011 at 10AM Alaska Daylight Time [11AM PDT, 12PM MDT, 1PM CDT, 2PM EDT]. Participation is simple and free! Register Now!

  2. As part of the IPY 2012 From Knowledge to Action Conference, a PolarEDUCATORS Workshop (April 20-22, 2012) is being organized to bring together 150 international educators to attend a two-day professional development workshop. To learn more visit PolarEducators Workshop website.

  3. NOAA Teacher at Sea program is currently accepting applications for the 2012 field season. The application deadline is Wednesday, November 2011. For more information visit: http://teacheratsea.noaa.gov/
    Applications are available at: http://teacheratsea.noaa.gov/apply/index.html

  4. The next Cyber-based Interdisciplinary Science Education (C-ISE) course for teachers will focus on life sciences. This is a 1-credit, 500 level course, hosted through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The fall course will focus on the marine science projects being conducted out of McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Registration will be available by mid-September through the website. If you are interested in presenting for the course, please contact us at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com.

Questions, Comments, Feedback

Let us know what you think about PolarSphere! If you have suggestions, comments, and/or want to contribute something, please email Gary Wesche polargary [at] gmail.com or any of us at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com. We'd love to hear from you!

Special Addition ANTARCTICA

December 1 is Antarctica Day! This young tradition, inaugurated in 2010, celebrates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed Dec. 1, 1959. This edition of PolarSphere focuses on this remarkable continent.

Antarctica Day was initiated by the Foundation for the Good Governance of International Spaces as an annual event to build global awareness of this important institution, celebrating this milestone of peace in our civilization with hope and inspiration for future generations. The Antarctic Treaty was adopted "with the interests of science and the progress of all mankind" so that today there is a variety of activities around Antarctica Day such as the Virtual 'Peace' Balloon Launch, classroom activities, life events and much more Download Informational PDF.

Check out the activities, sites and opportunities we have gathered for you from some of our friends in polar science. Hope you will select a polar activity this month to mark this celebration.

Educational Sphere

Adelie penguin

Below is an invitation from Jean Pennycook to take your students on a virtual trip to the Adélie penguin rookery in Antarctica:

Dear Educators,

Take your students on a virtual field trip to the Adélie Penguin breeding colony at Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica. Penguin Science is an NSF funded project engaging and educating classrooms and the public with Antarctic penguins as they raise their chicks and cope with global climate change.

Here are a few things you can do with your students:

  • Students adopt a penguin family, keep a field notebook recording foraging trips, egg hatching and chick rearing data. Follow daily pictures as they raise their chicks. Live pictures start Nov 10, 2011. View Website

  • Combine science, art and geography as students track their postcards mailed to them from Antarctica. View Website

  • Design and make a flag to fly at our research station. View Website

  • Classroom ready activities, teaching powerpoints, short videos and movie clips on the biology and behavior of Adélie Penguins. View Website

Scientist Sphere

Our science friends at ANDRILL share the following links:

Meter with ash

Antarctica's Climate Secrets

View Climate Secrets Website

Environmental Literacy Framework activity book--finished activities

View ELF Website

The twin otter plane

Core images and Data Sets

View Core Images and Data Sets Website

Ice Shelf Animation

View Ice Shelf Animation Website

Antarctica: A Journey of Discovery

View the book

Our Science friends from CRESIS share the following link to classroom activities:
View CRESIS Activities Website

Current Expeditions Sphere

PolarTREC teacher, Michelle Brown, is in McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Trekking to the camp site

Humans have occupied the McMurdo Sound for over a hundred years. Early visitors had little impact on the region, but starting in the late 1950's year-round, permanent buildings were established at McMurdo Station. Over the years thousands of humans have visited this area and have changed the landscape. Under its obligations to the Antarctic Treaty, the United States maintains a long-term monitoring program designed to track the environmental conditions in and around the station.

Each year, this research team conducts environmental monitoring and chemical, physical, and biological sampling in and around McMurdo Station. They will collect samples from both marine and terrestrial habitats as measures of human impact. The results of this research will help document and minimize the impacts of future science and support operations in Antarctica

PolarTREC teacher, Chantelle Rose, on the sea in the Arctic

Ms. Rose in the HCO

Chantelle's team is living and working from the United States Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy. The team plans to collect some of the first winter information ever collected on the biology, chemistry, and physical oceanography of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. In particular, they will be studying a very small crustacean called a copepod. Copepods make up the base of the ocean food chain. In addition to studying the ecology, scientists will be onboard looking at chlorophyll, marine mammals, and birds. Data collected during the cruise will be used to predict the future impacts of climate change on the oceans.

Important Events Sphere

There are several upcoming PolarConnect (real-time) events in December. For more information and to register, check out the PolarTREC website at http://www.polartrec.com/polar-connect/register.

DATE: Thursday, 1 December 2011
Celebrate Antarctica Day!
This event will start at 9AM Alaska Standard Time [10AM PST, 11AM MST, 12AM CST, 13PM EST].

This special PolarConnect event celebrates Antarctica and specifically, the Antarctica Treaty! Join us and learn more about this special part of our world. Speakers include Dr. M. Kennicutt and PolarTREC teacher, Michelle Brown.

DATE: Wednesday, 7 December 2011
PolarConnect event with PolarTREC teacher Chantelle Rose and the Winter Sampling in the Arctic expedition
This event starts at 9AM Alaska Standard Time [10AM PST, 11AM MST, 12PM CST, 1PM EST].

This event is open to the public online and will be broadcasted from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting in San Francisco.

Questions, Comments, Feedback

Let us know what you think about PolarSphere! If you have suggestions, comments, and/or want to contribute something, please email Gary Wesche polargary [at] gmail.com or any of us at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com. We'd love to hear from you!

Scientist's Sphere

An 11,000 year old camping trip!

The PI for PolarTREC educator Susy Ellison expedition was Dr. Jeff Rasic who specializes in prehistoric stone tool technology and the archaeology of northern hunter-gatherers. He is particularly interested in how the earliest people of the North made a living at the end of the last ice age. He is currently the acting curator of Archaeology at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, and an archaeologist at the National Park Service in Fairbanks.

Susy writes of her experience following her expeditions as she worked with her students.

How does archaeology fit into my science curriculum? I'm fortunate (I think) to work at an alternative public high school where I have a fair amount of flexibility in designing and teaching my science classes. I'm currently teaching a class called 'Tools and Technology—from Neanderthals to Newton". Prior to my PolarTREC experience I would probably have focused the class on more current technologies and inventions. Now, with my new knowledge and contacts I was able to email 'my' PI Jeff Rasic (NPS Archeologist and curator at the Museum of the North in Fairbanks) for advice and inspiration. With his input on the most important inventions (stone tools, fire, ceramics, and cordage) this class took a whole new direction. Students started out focusing on using fire as a tool, including a challenge to build a fire without 'modern' technology and have moved on from there. We've been examining the evolution of tools, how tools and technology intersect, and whether fire is man's greatest invention or will be our biggest downfall. I've shared slides and stories from the summer and given my students a bit of insight into our ties with the past and the science that attempts to establish those ties. We've explored a bit of the world of 'Garbology', analyzing the trash our culture might leave behind and what stories the mounds of plastic, microwaveable dinner containers, and buried iPods might tell. Although it's a physical science class, I have focused on that zone where physical science meets the metaphysical as we discuss tools, technology, and cultures. Armed with my 'Junior Archaeologist' merit badge, I have a whole new perspective on the topic and it has been exciting to combine the science of archaeology with physical science and philosophy.

Best of all, now I have added a new conversation-starter to my repertoire. Instead of only being able to say, " You know, when I was in Antarctica wrestling seals….", I can shift the focus and say "When I was coring the northernmost trees in North America…" or "This wet weather reminds me of the time I was standing in a mud pit in Alaska searching for Clovis-style points…".

Educator's Sphere

A PolarTREC- Inspired high school archaeology/history project

By Michael Wing

An archeological mystery

In 2009 I went to northern Finland to work on a prehistoric archaeology expedition with a team headed by Professor Ezra Zubrow of the State University of New York at Buffalo. Archaeology presents a unique challenge for a teacher trying to bring his field experience into the classroom. Archaeological sites are the ultimate non-renewable resource. Without close supervision from professionals, it is neither appropriate nor legal for school groups to excavate archeological sites. How, then, would I bring back what I had learned?

Fortunately one of the first things I learned is how much information can be obtained without digging. A lot of what I did with Zubrow's team was surveying and making maps of visible features on the Earth's surface. These activities can be done by anyone without the need for special permits.

On my return to California I learned of an enigmatic line of stones on public land near my home in Marin County. The first Anglo-American rancher in the area may have built it, or it may be from the Mexican period or be prehistoric. Nobody knows. The line is 800 feet long, and many of the stones are far too big for one person to move. They are encrusted with lichens, and many are buried deeply in the soil.

Standing Sentinel?

My students and I have begun to survey and map the line and make a database of the size, shape, location, orientation, lichen encrustation and degree of burial of each stone in the line. Simultaneously, we are interviewing historians, archeologists, government officials and stone wall experts from as far away as New England. We don't yet have the answers to who built the line, when, or why. But we believe that when our survey is complete we will be able to rule out some of the possible candidates based on the features of the line. More information on our project can be seen on line at:


Technological Sphere

Tablet/ipad type devices are making it into more and more classrooms. PolarSphere is looking to share ways you successfully use these devices in your classrooms. Please send Gary an email on what you're doing to augment your science classrooms or programs. REALLY a short email to Gary at polargary [at] gmail.com is the way to start.

Current Expeditions Sphere

PolarTREC teacher, Nell Herrmann, at Palmer Station, Antarctica

Nell Herrmann

From Palmer station, Antarctica Nell's research team will study the effects of rising ocean acidification and temperatures on seafloor dwelling animals in the shallow waters of Antarctica. Several marine animals, such as mussels, snails, and sea urchins use the naturally occurring calcium (Ca) and carbonate (CO3) in seawater to construct their shells or skeletons.

As increasing amounts of Carbon Dioxide are absorbed, the pH of the water is decreasing or becoming more acidic. This is called ocean acidification In Antarctica, it is predicted that water temperatures will increase due to rising carbon levels and the calcium carbonate needed by these organisms will decrease. Being sensitive to small changes in water temperatures and unable to form adequate shells and skeletons, many of these animals may have declines in health. Understanding how these small animals will react to changing ocean conditions is important, as several larger animals rely on them as a food source.

PolarTREC teacher, Amber Lancaster due to board ship in the Waddell Sea, Antarctica

Amber Lancaster

Amber's 40 day expedition aboard ship will be studying environmental changes occurring in the Antarctic Peninsula region as a consequence of the abrupt collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in the fall of 2002. As a result of this collapse, a profound transformation in ecosystem structure and function has been seen in the coastal waters of the western Weddell Sea. This transformation appears to be redistributing the flow of energy between organisms, and to be causing a rapid change in the ecosystem beneath the ice shelf.

The overarching goal of the LARISSA (LARsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica) project is to describe and understand the basic physical, geological and biological processes active in the Larsen embayment that contributed to the present phase of massive, rapid environmental change.

This Summer follow PolarTREC teacher, Wendy Gorton, archeological expedition in NW Alaska

Wendy Gorton

This team will be continuing their work excavating portions of the Raven Bluff archaeological site, the remains of a prehistoric camp that date to the very end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. The site in Northwestern Alaska is important because it contains the oldest well-preserved collection of archaeological animal bone in the American Arctic. The goal of the team is to gather information at the site that can teach us about what the people who occupied the Raven Bluff site ate; how they obtained, processed and stored their food; and how they manufactured their tools, clothing and housing.

PolarTREC teacher, Susy Ellison worked with this research team in 2011 visit her archived journals at:


Important Events Sphere

Watch for information regarding Polar Week March 18-24 sponsored by the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). Plans are being made now and announcements will be forth coming from many sources. PolarSphere will forward details your way, as they are made available.

Thanks to Susy and Michael this issue has had two great articles on archeology in Polar Regions. Wendy Gordon's expedition this summer will also be focused on archeology. Plan with your students now so they can follow her archeological expedition during their summer break.

Questions, Comments, Feedback

Let us know what you think about PolarSphere! If you have suggestions, comments, and/or want to contribute something, please email Gary Wesche polargary [at] gmail.com or any of us at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com. We'd love to hear from you!

Educator's Sphere

Jillian Worssam

Jillian Worssam, PolarTREC teacher 2008

Transforming the traditional science classroom into the world of real time science and discovery. Welcome to "Scientists in the Classroom," a yearlong collaboration project between scientists in the field and students in the classroom. With a vigorous communication schedule and project plan students spend ten months learning from their mentors about a specific field of science and how that science has possible global implications. From California to Rhode Island, Connecticut to Alaska scientists and individuals in scientific careers have dedicated their time to mentor an Arizona eighth grader on the "who, what where, why and how " to become a scientist. Our students have learned about robotics in Antarctica and climate change in Greenland, the Mayan Calendar and floating sediment traps in the Bering Sea.

Check out our web page at:


and see some of the amazing work we have accomplished.

The year started with interviews and MP3 recordings, moved through power point presentations, research papers, movies and now our culminating projects. Students are making models of DART buoys to improve the Tsunami warning system, writing songs about climate change and making a music video, even making a mooring that will not get crushed by ice in the arctic ocean so that it's instruments can record data year round. Science is a hands on discipline where knowledge and hard work bring us to new worlds of discovery. Join our class in learning about some amazing careers in science, we are waiting for you!

Contact Jillian about her project. JWorssam [at] gmail.com and look at her archived journals at:


Scientists' Sphere

In this Sphere this month we are featuring three early career polar scientists. They were each asked what was the moment that led them to enter into a science field. All three of these young scientists participated in the APECS Polar Week in March. To view the two archived webinars go to:


Meagan Grabowski

Meagan Grabowski

Meagan writes I became interested in the outdoors in a very general way from a young age, but it wasn't until halfway through ny undergrad that I decided to enter arctic ecology. When I was 20 I worked at Pika Camp (near Kluane National Park in southwest Yukon) under the supervision of Isla Myers-Smith, a PhD Candidate at University of Alberta at the time. It was this specific experience, in alpine ecology and later in low arctic ecology on a trip to Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park, paired with the amazing crew I met and keep in touch with to this day, that convinced me to continue in arctic/alpine field research. Isla has been a friend and a mentor since that summer, and to many of us who were at Pika Camp.

Here is Isla's frostbyte from the IPY conference in Montreal:


It has some nice graphics explaining the work being done on shrubs in the circumpolar.

Each experience I've had since in field research has somehow spun off that one summer so it is my defining science moment.

Meagan's email is meagangrabowski [at] gmail.com.

Jennifer Provencher

Jennifer Provencher

Jennifer writes, "As for one moment, it was actually in Grade 11 Biology that a teacher gave us an assignment to find some article in a science magazine like National Geographic and I found one on marine biology that I got hooked. Since then I wanted to be a marine biologist, and that is want I am."

Jennifer is a PhD student at Carleton University. She has been working in the Arctic since the 2007 when she first traveled to the Canadian Arcitc as part of a Canadian International Polar Year. She is interested in how marine birds can be used as indicators of the marine environment and ecosystem health.

During the recent IPY Jennifer had the privilege of working on two very different, but complimentary projects. On the science side her MSc research at the University of Victoria focused on using two Arctic seabird species as indicators of change in marine ecosystems, specifically how marine plastic debris has increased, and how prey species utilized by seabirds in the eastern Canadian Arctic is changing as summer sea ice decreases. This research was an extension of an Environment Canada long term seabird monitoring program with historical data collected in the 1970s and 80s compared with recent collections in 2007/08/09 in the low, mid and high Arctic zones.

On the education side of IPY 2008-2009 she has been involved in the development of the Sea Ice Education package, a teacher's guide for middle and high school aged students examining sea ice and its importance to northern communities and ecosystems. One of the goals of Sea Ice Education package is to take data and science that has been produced during the recent IPY and create active science lessons plans based on current and relevant science for northern communities. Her research group's seabird work in the eastern Canadian Arctic forms the basis of the sea ice and marine bird section, with data collected during the recent IPY the focus of several activities investigating sea ice and its importance to marine birds.

Jennifer can be reached at jennifpro [at] gmail.com

Piotr Angiel

Piotr Angiel

Piotr got an early start in science. He explains, "My both parents are geographers (PhD's), so I was exposed to science from the very beginning. As a child I travelled a lot with my parents to many places in Poland, being close to the nature and trying to understand it in my own way. When I was 6 my father went for half a year to Polish Station on Svalbard. After his research trip he showed me some pictures I still remember: glaciers, icebergs and polar bears. This was the time when I first got fascinated with the Polar Regions. Some years later, when I was making decision what I would like to study, geography was my natural choice.

I am a young geographer/geologists (I am 33 years old) from Poland, currently completing my PhD at University of Western Ontario in Canada. I was involved in several projects in the Maritime Antarctica (based on King George Island) where I spent 2 years (including overwinter) doing a variety of fieldwork, often including camping in a tent. I worked on numerous projects about glaciers retreat due to climate warming and its influence on ecosystems including:

  • Geomorphological mapping of landforms and mapping plant communities on recently deglaciated areas
  • Dating moraines using lichenometry (to reconstruct glaciers extent at the end of the Little Ice Age on King George Island)
  • In addition I was involved in penguins and sea mammals monitoring - studying their populations and annual distribution changes due to climate change

In addition to my "southern" experience I was working on Iceland studying braided river dynamics and glaciers response to global warming since the Little Ice Age (lichenometry and geomorphological study on Esjufjoll nunataks - Vatnajokull Glacier)

I am a professional photographer as well. I have huge collections of various pictures to illustrate the topics I indicated above. I use these pictures often during my outreach presentations. Please have a look to my galleries. Here are some samples of my Antarctic photos:



And here photos from Iceland:


Piotr's email is pangiel [at] o2.pl

Technical Sphere

Polar Educators International: "As a legacy of IPY and as a direct action of this conference in Montreal, we announce the establishment of Polar Educators International - a global professional network for those that educate in, for, and about the Polar Regions." The team has hit the ground running and arrangements are quickly moving forward! For more information or to get involved email polareducators [at] gmail.com or join the Polar Educators International Facebook page.

Upcoming Expeditions

The summer is almost here.

10 educators will be going into the field with PolarTREC this summer season in the North. Use your PolarTREC creativity to get your students to follow these expeditions for they are sure to be amazing!!!!!

  1. How about offering extra credit to students who follow and expedition and keep a journal.

  2. Give bonus time or opportunities for students who join a live event during the summer.

  3. During the last weeks of school have your class follow one of the two expeditions that are in the field. It is a great way to show them how they can continue the exploration at home throughout the summer!!!!!

Go to www.polartrec.com, I am sure it is your home page, to check them out.

Educational Sphere

The Unique Voice of an Educator from the Equator

H.E. Ronnie Jumeau

The IPY conference in Montreal, Canada was entitled 'From Knowledge to Action'. One of the speakers during the week was His Excellency Ronnie Jumeau, Ambassador to the United Nations and United States for the nation of Seychelles. His new job was to become Seychelles Roving Ambassador on Climate Change. Upon request he gave Gary Wesche a copy of his speech with permission to share, especially with educators. His impassioned speech speaks to the question why should we be concerned with what is happening in the Polar Regions.

Here is also a link to him delivering the speech at the conference http://webcasts.welcome2theshow.com/ipy2012/mondaypanel (You register your name and email and you then are forwarded to this panel session. To reach H.E. Jumeau's speech forward to 44:00 of this meeting.

If you would like an email copy of this speech email Gary at polargary [at] gmail.com

Seeing, Understanding, and Teaching Climate Change (Training Course Topic)

John Wood

During July, ARCUS partnered with Alaska Geographic to host a 4-day teacher training in Denali National Park and Preserve. Six teachers participated in the training taught by PolarTREC Staff and ecosystem ecologist Terry Chapin of University of Alaska-Fairbanks. While in the backcountry, teachers participated in citizen science projects, conducted investigations, and learned first hand about climate change in the polar regions and climate education nationwide. PolarTREC teacher John Wood co-taught the seminar as a model for peer-to-peer professional development. He showcased the work done by his team in Healy, Alaska while guiding examinations into permafrost change, CO2 measurements, and vegetation point framing. Additionally, he shared his success in bringing polar science into his classroom in Huntington Beach, California.

You can read all about what John did while in Alaska in his expedition journal page on Carbon Balance in Warming and Drying Tundra.

Scientist Sphere - Why we need scientists who can communicate.

Courtesy Sprattiart

Twice in the last year when asked to give presentations in two different school districts in the state of Kansas the educators warned me that they would be called into the administrator's office to discuss parent complaints if I discussed climate change. The urban high school teacher, not feeling supported by her administration, asked if I could use alternative phrasing. The rural elementary school teacher, feeling supported by the administration, told me to go full force, and he looked forward to the parental inquiries. Both teachers said they had never had an issue teaching the concepts of evolution in the 20+ careers, but that climate change was the first time they had seen such complaints.

Here listed are some resources to help bolster your knowledge on the subject of climate change and on understanding skepticism.

EARTH: The Operators' Manual, a PBS documentary hosted by Richard Alley and an online community found on Facebook, is living proof of a consensus that the Earth's climate is changing because of our actions and the time to move toward a sustainable energy future is upon us. ETOM showcases how, in fact, people across America and around the globe are already mobilizing to make a difference for themselves and their communities. If you're expecting a collection of lefty tree-huggers, you're in for a shock.

Article by Ro Randal, a psychoanalytically trained psychotherapist researching, writing and blogging on climate change. 'Climate Scepticism – Why information doesn't work':


Louise Huffman of Andrill offered this helpful link that can help you address questions about climate change:


NOAA links extreme weather to climate change:


Technology Sphere

The world of Apps is ballooning. Have you found a particularly helpful app? Please share it with us by sending it to polargary [at] gmail.com

Current Expeditions Sphere

Now is the time to start planning to follow PolarTREC expeditions with your classrooms and audiences. Don't let them miss out on the active world of Polar Science.

Deanna Wheeler

Deanna Wheeler and her team is aboard the United States Coast Guard Icebreaker, Healy, a research vessel designed to conduct a wide range of research activities and can break through 4 ½ feet of ice continuously. On August 5th the team started travel to the Hanna Shoal, northwest of Barrow, Alaska in the Chukchi Sea, which may be a sensitive ecological system close to areas designated for future oil and gas exploration. Check out Deanna's adventure and videos in her expedition page on the Ecosystem Study of the Chukchi Shoal.

Lisa Seff

Beginning August 20th Lisa Seff and her research team will be working out of Barrow AK, at the juxtaposition of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. It is a region frequently traveled by the endangered bowhead whale. This project had its genesis in understanding why the region near Barrow AK is a feeding hotspot for migrating bowhead whales and the whales and their prey will continue to be a focus of the team's interpretations. At the end of her expedition, Lisa will be venturing over to Point Hope to meet with the community and school. Be sure to follow Lisa and join her PolarConnect. Her expedition page is Oceanographic Conditions of Bowhead Whale Habitat.

Other Expeditions Starting on 27 August, PolarTREC will be hosting retired teacher, Betty Carvellas, as she travels north on a Russian research vessel. Communications will be spotty but she'll be posting on Russian-American Long-Term Census of the Arctic.

This autumn there will be 5 expeditions to Antarctica where the teams will be studying: Tectonic History, Buried Ice, Sub Glacial Lakes and Streams, and at the South Pole with the IceCube Telescope project. Watch for these unique expeditions!

Remember to use the archived expeditions that occurred during the summer months as well.

Special Request: We are looking for stories on how you utilize archived expeditions in your classrooms. Drop Gary (polargary [at] gmail.com) a note on what you do to include these in your curriculum.


PolarConnect Event: Lisa Seff will host an event on 7 September, 2012 at 7:15am Alaska Daylight Time [8:15am PDT, 9:15am MDT, 10:15am CDT, 11:15am EDT] PolarTREC teacher Lisa Seff will be presenting from Barrow, Alaska with her team studying Bowhead Whale Habitat. Register your classrooms: http://www.polartrec.com/polar-connect/register

International Polar Week: Our friends at APECS (The Association of Early Career Scientists) and PEI (Polar Educators International) are joining forces to provide activities and events for you to participate in during POLAR WEEK, which is September 16th – 22nd. Watch for announcements or go to http://apecs.is/outreach/polar-week . Information will become available in August with details of live events, international activities, and opportunities to interact with scientists.

Accepting Applications: PolarTREC is accepting applications from teachers & researchers for 2013/1014 beginning August 1- September 3, 2012

PolarSphere Back Issues: PolaSphere is now available online! You can check out the current issue as well as all the prior issues, here: www.polartrec.com/newsroom/polarsphere. PolarSphere is also accessible through the Newsroom.

Questions, Comments, Feedback

Let us know what you think about PolarSphere! If you have suggestions, comments, and/or want to contribute something, please email Gary Wesche polargary [at] gmail.com or any of us at PolarTREC info [at] polartrec.com. We'd love to hear from you!